Adele was scared of her photo with filters: how telephone editors can undermine our self-esteem

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At a concert in Las Vegas on November 26, the famous British singer Adele took a selfie with a fan. There was nothing strange about this. Until the star saw what a fan's camera settings did to her face, according to the Independent. alt=”Adele scared of her filtered photo: how telephone editors can undermine our self-esteem” />

Photo: IStock

She's not the only one who encounter filters on the phone, and we all suffer the consequences.

The picture was not Adele as we know her. This Adele, looking at the singer from the phone, had orange skin and a prominent jaw. Her lips were comically large and her eyes bright blue.

“Oh my God, what have you done to my face?” Adele exclaimed.

When Instagram first launched in 2010, its two image editing filters were called “Miami” and “Sepia” – they changed the colors of images that passed through their system, if not the objects themselves. Now, however, filters have taken on a different function, with built-in technology capable of distorting individual facial features at the touch of a button. The popular Multicolored Eyes filter retouches the subject's skin, making lips plumper and rosier. Your eye color can be changed to aquamarine blue or bright purple. The most popular filters lift the cheekbones, as if a filler was injected into your face. What's more, TikTok's “skinny filter” can make your body slimmer.

Instagram's “perfect face” makes facial features abnormally symmetrical.

“Like Adele, my face was also filtered against my will. Last summer, a friend asked me to take a picture together at a house party, – says Ellie Muir, journalist, writer and editor based in London. – In the photo, my cheeks looked like they had been pinched by an elf's tiny hands and pulled vertically upwards. My nose has become narrow and shiny. It was stunning. I felt as if my face had turned into a mixture of Kim Kardashian and Bella Hadid's sexy baby.”

“Comparing yourself to idealistic images has happened throughout history,” says Philippa Diedrichs, a psychologist at the Center for Appearance Research at the University of the West of England. – Over the past century, we have begun to compare ourselves to media images – celebrities, models, movie stars. What has changed now is that we are also comparing ourselves to digitally distorted versions of ourselves.”

Food and drink creator Sabina (@girlvsglobe) received accolades on TikTok in August after she deliberately turned off a filter in her video that changed her complexion. “I’m so tired of these filters,” she admitted to her subscribers. – Looks great, but look what happens when I remove the effect.” In the video, she touches the screen and turns off the filter, revealing her natural complexion. “I look good,” she says. “But my brain is so used to seeing my face turn into this fake, flattened version of myself.”

A study by the City of London University found that 90% of the women surveyed used filters because they felt pressured to look a certain way on social media.

Studies have also shown that filters are most commonly used to brighten and even out skin tone, whiten teeth, and remove excess skin. It is so widespread that it affects the younger generation as well.

According to the annual Girl Guiding survey, 77% of girls aged 11 to 16 consider themselves not beautiful enough.

According to a recent study by Diedrichs from the Dove Self-Esteem Project, 80% of girls will use a filter by the time they are 13 years old. This is wrong, and especially the beauty messages that filters convey. “They meet today's beauty standards, which are inherently Eurocentric and also unattainable for most people without surgery,” Diedrichs says. – There are some experimental filters that are a source of artistic and creative expression. But this becomes problematic when the filters are designed to conform to the narrower standards of beauty that are associated with appearances based on stereotypes and gender norms.”

In addition to changing the overall structure of a person's facial features, many filters are also designed to lighten the skin of those in the picture. Some filters can add a tan to the subject's face and body, but it's usually an orange tint with a white cloud. “These filters support much broader appearance-based biases that are rooted in racism and colorism, as well as biases that feed on gender stereotypes,” Diedrichs says.

Experts warn against using photo-editing apps like FaceApp as well as filters, especially for people with low self-confidence. “When people have a poor body image, they are more likely to be at risk for an eating disorder and are far more likely to consider invasive cosmetic procedures, which come with medical and financial risks,” Diedrichs says. – They are more likely to experience low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.”

This also means that applying a filter to someone else's image isn't as harmless as you might think. Filters are part of a broader beauty culture, helping fuel self-esteem crises. However, we already know this. When Adele told her fan that the women looking at them from the photo on the phone did not look like them in reality, her fan quietly nodded in agreement. “I know,” she replied.

Filters make you think your face needs an immediate change, even though it doesn't.