The Fountain of Youth by Filtering


As you walk through the halls, all you can see is teens’ eyes glued to their essential cell phones, taking selfies or looking at what’s trending; makeup looks inspired by celebrities, fashion, and even random funny videos. A flicker of light catches your eyes as you see them trying out filters that celebrities have used, eventually comparing themselves with the clear skin picture they took with their natural face. With that unrealistic look, it makes them less confident and even downhearted to why they don’t look like that. With the use of technology and social media on a daily basis, teens are very influenced by what they see online.

Part of the experience of using social media is utilizing filters that create an idealistic feature that teens aspire to achieve. People have been given the ability to change and morph themselves into an illusion that exists on the internet to please themselves and manipulate others through the use of online filters. 

“It is a personal choice,” Ms. Tu-yeh said. “Filters can make a picture clean and clear, getting rid of wrinkles and making people look younger. Making yourself look more presentable and elegant, but making yourself into another person I don’t think is appropriate.”

Over time, face filters grew in popularity.  Face filters can be dated back to 2015, when it was first released on Snapchat, and soon Facebook and Instagram followed. 

“It’s a personal preference, nothing wrong with it,” guidance counselor Ms. Tu-yeh said. “But it’s not honest in social media, and meeting in person, it may seem like a totally different person.”

A mental health condition called dysmorphia is when a person cannot stop worrying about his/her physical appearance, often fixating on physical flaws or perceived defects.  This can lead to insecurities that foster unhealthy diets, beauty hacks, and even surgeries.  The term Snapchat dysmorphia refers to when a person compares filtered selfies to one’s actual appearance. 

“Well, in some ways I think the filters make some other people uncomfortable because you look at pictures of people and you think they all look perfect,” health teacher Mr. Schildkraut said. “Similar to celebrities and movies and tv shows, we always think that celebrities are perfect looking but they are really not. Now when students are doing it, it makes them more comfortable, but then when they are in person they might not want to show what they really look like anymore.” 

When lenses first became available, users were predominantly using them comedically and for entertainment purposes. Facebook and Instagram jumped on the face filter trend and released their versions in  2017.

“It depends on the filter because some filters are funny and some are cute,” freshman Katelynn Liu said . “But some filters make your face a whole new person leading to your ideal person, but the reality is not.”

Junior Tiffany Tsui believes that interactions between teenagers is different for this generation compared to previous generations, with or without the use of filters.

“I’m not sure if it changes interactions,” Tsui said. “I think in general interactions are different, whether they’re filters or not. I think people interact by showing pictures of themselves and instead of having conversations and doing things. I’m not sure if I know enough about filters to know about the changes of interaction, other than maybe if somebody doesn’t know each other well then they could really change it because then you’re presenting yourself differently than you are.”

Tsui also sees the negative and positive effects of filters in her generation. 

“It can be a positive and negative mindset toward teenagers because some people may use filters as a way to express themselves,” Tsui added, “as a joke to friends or even to teachers or families around the world. It could be a negative way of using filters because you’re hiding your own natural appearance.” 

“I use fewer filters now, which in a way made me feel more confident about how I really look,” Tsui said. “The use of filters will question the real you, making yourself want to look like that, which is unrealistic.” 

On social media, there is a wide spread of “perfect” people, thus gaining attraction in using filters to look like those idols. This poses as an online inspiration for younger generations. 

“There might be some positives, it might give them confidence because they can make themselves look really good in a picture, but then it’s not a reality,” Mr. Schildkraut said. “In some ways hiding behind filters is like hiding behind a mask, making yourself look like somebody you’re not. We all do have flaws and nobody is perfect looking, but filters make us look perfect.”

“Seeking for approval,” Ms. Tu-yeh said. “They want to look nice and desire more recognition, but changing into another person is unnecessary.”