There’s Now A #FilterFreeFriday Movement But Will You Be Joining It?

Which side of the filter fence do you sit on?

Let's Get Real About Beauty

by Annie Vischer |
Updated on

If you'd asked me what my 2021 resolution was a few months back I would have answered, quite truthfully, lip fillers. 'New year, new you.' That's how the line goes right? The clock strikes midnight, we sing Auld Lang Syne and immediately map out our own personal revamp. Last year I took on Veganuary, the year before I swapped coffee for hot water and lemon, you get the gist. So why, this year, having undergone a grand total of zero cosmetic treatments or even minor tweakments in my lifetime, did I put lip fillers on the agenda? The answer is simple.

A filter made me do it

A filter made me do it. I swiped through the Instagram stories of a reality star (who shall remain nameless) and and everything about her videos looked natural. Her skin didn't look overly blurred, there were no tell-tale fake freckles or gimmicky sparkles, her face looked fresh and enviably flawless and her lips a darned sight plumper than mine. I sat on the sofa fresh from a badly lit Zoom call and resolved that 2021 would be the year I tried lip fillers. That resolution is just one - undeniably basic - example of the impact face altering filters can have upon an entire generation.

2020's series of lockdowns caused our scrolling time to rocket. We engaged with Instagram content like never before, what else was there to do?! This rise in widespread Instagram engagement was mirrored by developments in AR face filters and hey presto, now I (along with a decent chunk of the UK's population I'd imagine) are ever more insecure about the skin we're in. The cause to combat the sometimes damaging effects of AR filters on social media have been picked up by the likes of make-up artist Sasha Louise Pallari, who created the hashtag #filterdrop on Instagram and make-up artist Brooke Simons who created the hashtag #filterfreefriday. Both movements look to redress the balance on social media and to play a part in offering up a more realistic Instagram feed for the social media platform's users worldwide. So which side of the filter fence do you stand on? Are you all for ditching those filters full stop? Or are you keen to cling to a Paris swipe on Instagram stories every now and then?

The Filter Factor

I don't consider myself 'an impressionable young girl'. I'm 32, I'm a well-informed beauty editor and I can detect filters at work from a mile off. Or so I thought. What steered me clear of booking that filler appointment way back when? Well, lockdown for one. Secondly I clicked onto that reality star's stories once more and spotted the small print - a tiny filter credit in the top right hand corner of my phone screen. I clicked 'Try It Out' and wow. That filter altered my face beyond recognition. I didn't look like me. And yet while the eye-popping alterations made by a fancy filter might be all too obvious on our own faces, the faces that stare back at us from the bathroom mirror day in and day out, when it comes to spotting the effects of similar filter son a stranger's face the lines between what's real and what's a deceptive dose of artificial reality become decidedly blurred. Therein lies the danger of a single stealth Instagram filter. But are they all that bad?

As we mentioned earlier one of the breakout social media stars of the last year is Sasha Louise Pallari. Sasha introduced the hashtag #filterdrop to encourage the masses to showcase a bit of reality on Instagram.Read all about how #filterdrop started here. Sasha is keen to point out the effect that 2020 in particular had on our self-confidence: 'Our time online multiplied beyond belief during lockdown. We spent hours on Zoom calls and we put a lot of energy into social media platforms.'

Developments in filters and editing apps has fed an obsession with perfection

'Because of social media many of us already had an unhealthy comparison issue and now our ability to compare and inflict self-doubt is worse than ever. Developments in filters and editing apps has fed an obsession with perfection. That so many of us feel it necessary to apply a digitally enhancing layer over our faces before showing that picture or video to the world is worrying.' Sasha took things step further this year and changed the way that influencers are using face altering filters in a big way. Read exactly how right here:

READ MORE: The Way Influencers Use Filters On Instagram Is About To Change In A BIG Way

Make-up artist Brooke Simon's own Instagram movement #filterfreefriday was born after her 5 year old daughter saw herself with a filter and said 'wow Mummy, I look so pretty'. Brooke writes of that poignant moment, 'even through her beautiful and innocent eyes. that's what she saw, my heart broke.'

My beautiful little girl through her gorgeous and innocent 5 year old eyes got the unwritten message that these face altering filters are meant to make us look better

Brooke continued, 'my beautiful little girl through her gorgeous and innocent 5 year old eyes got the unwritten message that these face altering filters are meant to make us look better. I was dumbfounded and I refuse to let her live in a world where she's hiding herself. We all have imperfections and I want to teach her to embrace them, not hide them. It's not going to be easy but I'm not going to give up.'

There's no denying that 2020 left many of us feeling underconfident in our appearance. Over 3 million Brits admitted that the 'Zoom boom' had left them feeling insecure about their looks and caused them to consider plastic surgery options. According to leading cosmetic surgeon and CMO of cosmetic treatment pioneers Uvence (, Dr. Olivier Amar 'lockdown has driven thousands of people who had never previously undergone a procedure, to take the step and dive into the world of cosmetic treatments.' Combine that with a surge in AR filters on social media and you have a recipe for mass underconfidence.

So what of the future? Sasha knows what she'd like to see happen in the next few years: 'If I could wave a magic wand I would have all face-altering filters removed. In February 2019, Instagram said they were going to ban all filters promoting plastic surgery yet thousands of filters still exist which allow you, in less than five seconds, to see your face morphed into a look that's only achievable through surgery.'

We are all so much more than our image and I really hope that message is more widely communicated throughout our society in the coming years

'I can’t make sense of that. I hope that movements like #filterdrop will encourage others to realise that they don’t need filters, that they don't need to digitally alter the way they look. We are all so much more than our image and I really hope that message is more widely communicated throughout our society in the coming years.'

The Power Of Celebrity

Celebrities, like social media influencers, have a huge part to play promoting honesty in beauty. A number of A-listers are already leading the way. Take Hailey Bieber for example. Whilst arguably a new-gen supermodel, Hailey goes through beauty trials and tribulations just like the rest of us and isn't afraid of showcasing them on Instagram. Just this month Hailey took to her Instagram stories to talk about her experience of perioral dermatitis, a mild skin condition that manifests itself as inflamed areas of skin and occasionally spots (read the full story here). Hailey's filter-free transparency when it comes to her skin struggles normalises bad skin days for the rest of us and we need more of the same.

We're applauding Cardi B right now too who took to Instagram this week to showcase her makeup-free face, blemishes and all.

5 Times Celebrities Got Real About Beauty


Celebrities Getting Real About Beauty 2021

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CREDIT: @haileybieber Instagram

Hailey Bieber

In December 2020 Hailey Bieber took to her Instagram stories to explain her struggle with perioral dermatitis, which is a minor skin condition that involves areas of inflammation and breakouts.

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CREDIT: @evalongoria

Eva Longoria

Remember when Eva Longoria showcased her roots on Instagram this year? Eva pointed to a neat regrowth of greys along her parting and normalised that everyday hair concern in the process. Eva used the video to demonstrate the effectiveness of L'Oreal's Magic Retouch root spray, and it struck a chord with a nation collectively deprived of their hairdressers in lockdown.

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CREDIT: @matildadeangelis

Matilda de Angelis

Matilda de Angelis shot to fame in this year's hit TV series The Undoing, but she really won our hearts when she posted a selfie and drew attention to her acne. In the picture's caption she wrote 'There are much bigger problems in life, I am aware of that, but I wanted to share this little truth perhaps to feel stronger, perhaps to accept myself better. Our fears can paralyze us or they can become a great force, it is up to us to choose the path.'

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CREDIT: @lilireinhart

Lili Reinhart

Riverdale star Lili Reinhart took to her Instagram stories to share an evening spent tackling cystic acne, and we love her for it.

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CREDIT: @iamcardib

Cardi B

Cardi B took to Instagram in February 2021 to showcase her makeup free face, blemishes and all, and we're here for it.

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CREDIT: @maurahiggins

Maura Higgins

Maura Higgins took to Instagram in February 2021 with the caption 'RAW ... like many of us, there are so many times I stop to read the nasty comments in my DM's or online & every single time I can't help but think of the younger generation stepping on the social media bandwagon! Us women especially get criticised day in and day out about our body's, hair, makeup, skin...I could go on forever. I am very lucky to be confident inside & out and I want to empower woman to do the same. We don't need to use filters or apps, being yourself is more than enough although a minority of the online community sometimes try and convince us otherwise. Everyone preaches to be kind to others when really we need to also preach how important it is to be kind to ourselves; be comfortable and proud in your own skin.'

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CREDIT: @mollymae

Molly-Mae Hague

When Molly-Mae Hague took to her Instagram stories to talk about getting her composite bonds removed from her teeth she touched on the wider journey she'd been on too: 'I want to finish by saying that I think I've taken all the steps I want to take now to reverse all the mistakes I made with fillers, getting things done that I didn't necessarily need to get done, that I didn't really think through at the time.'. Molly-Mae captioned that post with the sentence 'Please don't make the same mistakes I did' before continuing, 'I got the composite bonds put on two days before I went on Love Island and I don't regret it but it wasn't a necessary thing to do. I was just young. I think when you get older you want to look younger and when you're younger you want to look older. If you're a slightly younger follower of mine just take my advice and wait. Wait a good few years until your face matures, wait to get older to make decisions about cosmetic work.' While we're of the opinion that nobody should feel under pressure to detail their procedures or procedure reversals publicly Molly-Mae's decision to do so is admirable.

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