Beauty filters are one of the trending aspects of social media right now. Popular social media platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook release such filters from time to time, and now TikTok is also in the race by launching TikTok beauty filters, the ‘Glow Look‘. However, this time people are protesting against the Eurocentric beauty standards that these beauty filter uphold.
Himani Jadeja, a TikTok creator whose content centers on Desi lifestyle and culture stated, “Honestly, my first reaction was like, ‘Oh, great, another one of those TikTok beauty filters that change our features to make us cater to the European so-called beauty standards.”
She further said, “It’s so damaging to those who don’t conform to those beauty standards. There are other ethnicities and other cultures that have their own form of beauty. And we just, I guess, don’t match up to those standards.”
Glow Look has been used in over 3 million videos, but the aspect isn’t confined to TikTok. Similar facial beauty filters went viral on Instagram – like ATTRACTION, which has been applied in over 143,000 Reels. They too create what seem to be European-inspired features, usually with lighter-colored eyes, lighter skin, and thinner noses. As far back as 2016, users saw a skin-lightening effect in numerous filters on Snapchat.
So, who’s making these Tiktok beauty filters?
In a LinkedIn blog post from 2018, Lu Wang, TikTok’s head of AR effect design, discussed how the user design team creates filters for the app. “After the developers have completed the background coding and attached it to the design, we will then use an in-house app to test and ensure that the filter’s functionality is optimized,” Wang said. “After this testing, the filter is launched to millions of users to add to their videos.”
In the blog post, Wang doesn’t explain how facial filters are shaped. Most beauty filters use a technology called deep learning, in which a computer is equipped to identify facial features from images of real faces. If TikTok beauty filters use a similar learning process, it is the firm’s duty to guarantee that the system is trained on a diverse set of faces.
It’s not just about feeling left out
While beauty filters are impressive and eye-catching, their regular presence can be psychologically taxing for both active users and irregular viewers. Using and viewing a filter that’s intended to make you appear “prettier” has the potential to be toxic to any user’s self-image. Moreover, for people of color, when something that’s assumed to make them look “better” can’t even work on their faces, it implies that there’s something inherently wrong with their features.