I'm on Instagram a lot now. Way more than I should be if I'm honest. I am posting more often and using the platform to help me discover my "brand identity". I want to invest in some digital real estate. I'm not here to only talk about one thing all the time, like fitness, or Jesus, or motherhood, or whatever. I want to share my interests and ultimately be the type of influencer that I need.
As I analyze the different ways people use the app, I'm noticing the use of filters. You'd be hard-pressed to find a post where a person, usually a woman, doesn't recreate her appearance through the use of the app's arsenal of facial reconstructions. I have a few favorites myself. Filters are fun and faster than putting on makeup, but I wonder if they are doing more harm than good. This question has been asked before. Is the use of filters damaging how we see others? How we see ourselves?
As a Black woman, I notice a particularly interesting theme across the gamut when using a beauty filter. My nose gets smaller. My lips get larger. My skin is lighter, even to the point of removing my natural freckles. It concerns me. Not simply because of the inherent adjacency to whiteness in these presets, but because it sends me the message that the very structure of my face is not flattering. I might use makeup to cover up the fact that I didn't get enough sleep last night, but changing the width of my nose and the size of my lips is never the goal.
Moreover, I stare all day at images of women who I think are beautiful. I'm only human. My natural inclination is to compare myself to them. Then, I find myself remembering that the pictures I see on the internet are not akin to what I'd see in real life, leaving me both humbled and confused.
But isn't that the whole point of social media? To give each of us an opportunity to display a finely-tuned version of reality? Sure, the base of it is authentic, but we can pick and choose how we highlight and recreate ourselves. We can make ourselves more appealing if we choose. Doesn't matter what we look like in real life.
Now imagine if we had filters in real life. The ability to rebrand ourselves at any moment. To erase our character flaws and make ourselves appear righteous and blameless. I'd probably be a completely different person. In fact, I think sometimes I do live real life through a filter. When I am not being vulnerable and walking in the light, hiding behind false pride, I am using a filter. When I give in to Imposter Syndrome, I am using a filter. When I allow the measurements of my enemies to be the standard by which I live, I am using a filter. When I examine my life through my own expectations for where I should be instead of through the Lord's eyes, I'm using a filter.
Jeremiah 12:3 But you, O Lord, know me; you see me, and test my heart toward you.
The constant use of filters, both digitally and in real life, have damaged my view of self and the world. Just as I may not share a photo in which I feel less than attractive, I may withhold information from my accountability partners that would reveal my true brokenness. My filters also block me from seeing others for who they really are. Sometimes the filter causes me to see people who are not good for me through rose-colored glasses. It causes me to ignore the red flags. In other instances, I only see the flaws and sins of my adversaries. I dehumanize them and divorce them from their virtue. No one is all good. No one is all bad. We are all complex. Different. Incredible hypocrites.
I want to use fewer filters in life. I want to practice more authenticity. I'd rather be known and loved for who I am than admired and worshipped for the version of myself I let y'all see. You and I deserve to be our full selves in every moment, in every space. We are each a combination of the most beautiful and the ugliest parts of this world. We all deserve to be fully loved and enjoyed in that.
Start with that today. Post a picture of yourself on IG without a filter with the hashtag #nofilterfaith and #sheunapologetic. Tag me in it @she.unapologeticnand I'll share your picture in my stories, telling you a feature I see that I think is beautiful.
"And I am all the things I have ever loved: scuppernong wine, cool baptisms in silent water, dream books and number playing." Toni Morrison