Filters on social media proven to damage self-esteem

A recent survey by Parents Together found the more time a teenager spends on social media—the more they dislike their appearance.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok all have at least one thing in common—face filters.

With dog ears and silly faces, these filters can be fun. However, some say the beauty filters take it one step too far.

Mary-Hannah MacCurdy was posting a picture on Facebook when she noticed the filters and started playing around.

“It narrowed my face through here, and it changed my nose. It basically changed my entire eye structure and my lips. It just made me look completely different than how I normally look,” MacCurdy said.

MacCurdy was stunned by what she saw and she posted the picture on Facebook.

“I got a lot of responses. I got a lot of private messages about how just crazy it is that these are even out there and that our kids have access to them,” MacCurdy said.

Monroe County 8th grader Savanna Tallent acknowledges the harm filters could bring.

“I definitely do think it’s something that can be harmful. Because if they’re using those filters every day for pictures and things like that, and they post those and then they go to school, and somebody’s like, well, that’s not actually how she looks. She looks way different in real life than she does on social media,” Talent said.

A recent survey by Parents Together found the more time a teenager spends on social media, the more they dislike their appearance.

61% of teens surveyed say using beauty filters makes them feel worse about how they look in real life and more than half of those surveyed said they use filters to look more beautiful.

Jennifer Russomano from the UT Department of Public Health says it’s damaging.

“It could absolutely contribute to social isolation, decreased self-esteem, decreased self-confidence, not wanting to meet someone in person for fear of not living up to those expectations,” Russomano said.

Some may liken Instagram to fashion magazines from the ’90s. An argument could be made that those supermodel pictures were airbrushed— so what’s the difference with a filter?

“We knew that they were celebrities,” Russomano explained. “And now we’re seeing influencers who are everyday people. People just like us.”

Russomano says while our society is moving more toward accepting all body shapes and sizes, all ethnicities and opening up beauty standards. She explained that these filters are setting us back.

“Someone in their design [team] and their algorithm has now thought that this is what beauty looks like. So essentially by them placing those expectations on you, it is then making the self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem lower,” Russomano said.

MacCurdy is worried about what the future looks like for her young daughter.

“My daughter has really pretty little freckles and she made the comment of, ‘Oh mommy, I like how smooth that makes my skin.’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And she said, ‘Oh, my freckles are gone. My skin is so smooth.’ And I you know, I love her freckles,” MacCurdy said. “It’s unbelievable. And that this is what society is telling us is beautiful now versus how God made us to be.”

Several Botox injectors at medical spas in East Tennessee weighed in.

They said they regularly get requests from people wanting to look like they do with filters and they say these requests are mainly from people in their 20’s.

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