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Face Filters are Trolling Yourself

Updated: Jun 20

Spam Filter For Your Brain - Episode 81

I want to talk a little bit about face filters and Instagram and all of the AI technology that we can use on ourselves and smooth ourselves over, little filters that we can use on our phone for all of our selfies because it's all getting so easy to access. And as a photographer and as someone who coaches a lot of people on body image, and as a fat, disabled person who has a wayward, outlier body, I want to ask you really gently and with huge compassion what the hell you think you're doing?

Because I know what you're doing and you know what you're doing. And that's trying to make yourself look like a probably thinner, at least different shape version of someone that doesn't necessarily look quite like you do. And a lot of these filters also make the skin a lot lighter. They also make the features a lot more caucasian. And I want you to take a moment to think about what it is that you're contributing to, not by clicking a button on your phone, but by teaching yourself, and if you post these things out there in the world, teaching other people, that that is what you consider to be beautiful and what you actually have as a face, isn't enough of a human to be worthy of being seen, isn't lovable enough as it is. It isn't Okay.

I can tell you with all of my heart, as someone who has access to all of the tricks that Photoshop does and all of the lessons that I have learned from photography educators about how to change, manipulate, warp, and re-view people's bodies, I can tell you that when you use these things on photographs of yourself, my love, you are trolling yourself.

It isn't just about looking at the way that you are perceived by other people, you're going to look back at these images in two years, 20 years, two weeks, and go, "man, I've really put on weight", or, "oh, my skin looks really bad today when I look at it in the mirror, because it doesn't look like these pictures". What we see, a lot of our brain considers and trains itself to see as normal. And when it sees something which is different to that, it sees it as a threat or a danger. You're teaching your brain that what you actually have as a face and actually have as a body is not the right version. And this altered, manipulated, digital version of yourself that you are training yourself to see a lot of is actually you.

And you're also denigrating your own history of all of the genetics, of all of the people who got here until you at this point, all of that long, long line, who knows that your little hip indentation, strange little pain that you get in your knee, or slight mark that you have in your face doesn't come from your great, great, great grandmother? When we wipe all of these things out, we're wiping our own stories out. And if you think of the generations to come, what you're going to leave your great, great grandkids with is just a sort of pixelated version of an outline of who you are. They're not going to be able to see the person that actually sits there and laughs with their friends till their belly hurts, or gets really lost in a book sometimes and forgets to turn the pan off when it boils over, or is always late to meetings because they couldn't quite work out how to get out of the shower this morning because it was so warm and cozy.

All those bits of you are all being wiped out when we filter them away. And I wonder if you really want to wipe your stories away if you just want to look like another AI-generated blank canvas because that's what these filters do.

And if you do want to look like that, I 100% support your decisions. But I don't want you not to make a conscious choice here. I want you to see what you're choosing to do to yourself and think about what the impact it might be on other people if they start seeing only these versions of very airbrushed humans out there on the Internet.

I wish that you are able to look into the mirror and see your brilliant humanness as exactly what it should be, exactly what is here now, and that you don't wish to turn yourself into a more clean, pixelated version of an actual human.

I obviously do a whole load of work on this with people for my photo shoots, but if this is something that has really touched nerve, because it's not my average podcast, I feel like it's a bit of tough love this week, because it breaks my heart. If you'd like some help on any of this stuff, or it just feels like I've maybe touched on something you'd like to do some more work on, please do reach out. I'd love to help support you feel all of your humanness. I look forward to speaking to you next week. And yeah, tag me in any pictures that you feel like you're feeling a bit more of your units in them. I'd love to see them.


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