Instagram removing cosmetic filters

Kinga Piotrowska

It was all fun and games with dog ear filters, rainbows and love hearts, until cosmetic surgery filters crept in. Instagram has decided to get rid of all their augmented reality filters that can promote cosmetic surgery, as they fear it can impact negatively on people’s mental health. 

Some of these filters include effects that make you look like you have had a facelift, lip injections or a nose job. People often mess around with them, not knowing the consequences, but in a lot of cases you end up saying to yourself, “I wish I actually looked like that”. With Photoshop being widely used on models in magazines, online and billboards, we are already bombarded with unrealistic images of what the “perfect” person should look like. All those images we see every day might not seem so bad, until they start to add up and cause our mental health to suffer. 

A Facebook post by Spark AR, a platform that makes filters for Instagram, mentioned that it will no longer have any filter that is associated with cosmetic surgery as, “We want Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being.” 

Since October 23rd, 2019, the platform banned the filters from appearing on Instagram to help decrease the amount of young people availing of cosmetic surgery. This ban comes soon after Instagram’s decision to ban sponsored diet content. The Irish Mirror published figures from a Freedom of Information Act, that revealed in 2017, 904 patients availed of some of cosmetic surgery, compared to 870 in 2015. Instagram filters might not be the sole reason for the ever-increasing number, but they do contribute. 

Instagram making baby steps to help stop harmful filters appearing on their platform is causing some bit of good, differently to their competitors Snapchat, who have done nothing about the issue. 

Snapchat still has some filters similar to Instagram, but not to the same realistic extent. It airbrushes your face and makes your eyes appear bigger and nose smaller, which still negatively affects young people. 

Instagram however, is a more popular platform having 1 billion users every month, compared to 310.7 million on Snapchat. Both have a responsibility to look out for the well being of young people, as those are the ones who would be easily persuaded to get cosmetic surgery. A psychological study by authors Candice E. Walker and Eva G. Krumhuber, finds that girls and women are more likely to want cosmetic surgery after spending time on social media. 

Women who already have low-self-esteem are also more willing to undergo surgery. This evidence suggests that having things like filters can seem so insignificant for some people, but for those already struggling, it can be a major factor. 

Filters of that kind have become enormously popular and more realistic in the last couple of years. Such popular platforms can easily make plastic surgery a trend, especially with influencers and celebrities who already admitted having surgery using them. Small steps matter. We can only hope that Instagram’s decision will be eye opening to other platforms and put the ones that continue to use such filters to shame.

Kinga Piotrowska

Image Credit: Stock Catalog