Snapfilters reinforce unrealistic beauty standards
by Colleen Burns
Features & Lists Co-Editor
Since its creation in September 2011, I believed that Snapchat was the most revolutionary form of social media because it does not conform to the like-crazed, follower obsessive, fake happiness performing platforms of many other popular social media sites. For example, Snapchat does not instigate social competition over the number of friends, likes, views, retweets, or shares a user receives because it simply is not designed in the same way as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. As a user of Snapchat, only I know how many friends I have, and only I know how many people have viewed my Snapstory.
Even more groundbreaking than keeping friends and followers private, Snapchat does not have a “like” button that is central to many forms of social media. This dreaded “like” button is simultaneously hated and loved by many social media aficionados, as the number of likes received is deemed an important factor in determining coolness levels. I for one know I spend 100% too much time debating filters and emojis while thinking of the perfect picture, caption, and hashtag combination all for a predetermined “cool” amount of likes. Simply stated, Snapchat relieves all of the pressures of this social competition that most millennials are accustomed to partaking in.
In one sense, Snapchat also reduces the pressure to portray a perfect, happy life on social media the way Facebook and Instagram do. Instead, Snapchat cultivates the idea of sending silly faces and funny captions that disappear in ten seconds or less. Most Snapstories are probably videos of your roommate doing something embarrassing, pictures of Netflix once again beating out homework, or a documentation of the wonders of Aramark food. Meanwhile, most pictures on Facebook and Instagram are most likely you and your friends posing for the camera somewhere that is not nearly as fun as it looks.
To say Snapchat is a revolutionary form of social media because of these features or even lack of certain features is an accurate statement…or so I thought. About a year ago, Snapchat introduced a new component to sending selfies: Snapchat Lenses or more commonly known as Face Filters. Snapchat Lenses allow users to add special effects to their selfies. Some Snapchat Lenses shape a face into a cute animal, some lenses allow users to puke rainbows, and some lenses allow users to face swap with each other.
I am sure we can all agree that these Snapchat Lenses are extremely fun to use and have made Snapchat an even more popular form of social media. However, there are several Snapchat Lenses that transform a user’s face into one that meets society’s beauty standards. Please note that I am not referring to the Snapchat Lenses that give users over-the-top sparkly make-up as a joke. I am talking about the flower crown lens that erases all blemishes and makes eyes slightly bigger. I am talking about the gold butterfly lens that Photoshops jaw lines and makes skin tanner. I am talking about the filter that digitally corrects any flaws regarding facial structure.
Maybe you did not even notice the lens airbrush your skin or Photoshop your jaw line because of how subtle the changes are, but I bet you noticed that you felt prettier when using those specific lenses. Through these lenses, Snapchat is inadvertently dictating our perceptions of beauty, and I am not okay with it. What kind of positive self-image are these Snapchat Lenses promoting when I could be dead tired with a high fever and snot running from my nose and still look amazing when I use the gold butterfly lens? If I allow Snapchat to “fix” my flaws and imperfections in photos, how will I feel about myself when I look in the mirror and remember they still exist? Snapchat may have made revolutionary steps in aspects of social competition, but Snapchat is far from progressive in promoting positive self-image and realistic perceptions of beauty.