If you follow me on Instagram (if not, why not?!) you will have seen a recent conversation about face filters and their damaging effect on our self-esteem.

This isn’t about editing a photo to enhance them. It’s not about bunging a filter over the top to keep with your style. This is about editing to the point of it no longer being you.

Face filters have been around for ages now, for a while every other Facebook profile picture was adorned with a flower crown or dog ears. And I think we can all agree that those photos look absolutely nothing like the person they’re supposedly of. They slim the face, they enlarge the eyes, they give you cheek bones, they remove any pores, they delete every line, you have a perfect glow, a perfect highlight. They make you the ultimate, enhanced, perfect version of you.

That’s a tempting offer, most of us spend hours or our lives and unfathomable amounts of money throughout our lives trying to enhance and improve how we look. Make up, skin care, facials, surgery. We primp and preen and pluck and polish and perfect. And you could easily argue why is make up ok if filters aren’t? I had messages asking me that very question.

For me it comes down to one thing – make up cannot change the physical structure of your face. Your face is still there, as it always was.

Make up is amazing, and the magic some people can do with some bronzer and an eyebrow pencil is nothing short of incredible. It can hide so many flaws, it can make you look ‘perfect’. But you still know it’s make up. You still take it off at the end of the day (hopefully) and underneath is still the same.

Using a filter every day can warp the way we see ourselves. When I posted a story with the new ‘perfecting’ filter on I winced when I then saw myself without it immediately after. I felt awkward at sharing the real me. That was after 15 seconds of seeing myself with the filter on. What if we see it every single day? What if we use them over and over? What if we start only sharing the version of ourselves that filter gives us?

I had messages from loads of women who admitted to not feeling able to share their faces without them being massively filtered anymore. And this is grown women, this is women who have been through the awkward, self-hatred years. This is women who grew up without the pressures of social media. Who wore Dream Matte Mousse three shades too orange and concealer on their lips. Imagine growing up with this.

There’s also a very important, yet less spoken about, issue with these face-altering features. They are inherently racist. To a lot of people that will sound mental, how can a filter be racist? The answer to that question it written about much more eloquently than I could manage here (I really recommend giving it a read). The filters lighten the skin in the search for so-called perfection, many of them make your eyes blue. Shandukani Mulaudzi – the author of the article – discusses how Snapchat filters have been described as the ‘new bleach’. WOC have been told for centuries that perfection is to be found with lighter skin, apparently we haven’t moved past that like we’d all wish.

We all edit and alter what version of ourselves we show the world. We will always present a highlight reel. That’s how social media works. Even when we share the ‘real’ and ‘relatable’ side, it’s still slightly enhanced. But what scares me about filters that proclaim to ‘perfect’ us is that we will never be able to live up to the image we put out there. If we can’t compete with ourselves where the fuck will that leave us?!

Yes, for years we’ve been faced with an image of perfection thanks to Photoshop and celebrities who have a team of 82 and three days to get ready for a red carpet appearance. But there was always a real sense of ‘other’ with that. They lived in glossy magazines, far away from our lives. Now it’s women we know, women we relate to, women we think of as just like us. The pressure to be perfect has been enhanced massively with the rise of social media, and it scares me. What is the future going to look like for women? We’re not Stepford wives. We’re not perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist.

I hope some of us can start a mini revolution. Share your face as it is. Don’t apologise on Instagram if you don’t have make up on (another pet hate STOP APOLOGISING FOR YOUR FACE!!). Step away from FaceTune. Don’t bother opening the filter options.

We are beautiful in our individuality. We are beautiful in our flaws.

A #FilterFreeFace is reality and it’s beautiful. Show me yours. I know which one I prefer.

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