Filter Dysmorphia: How Snapchat Has Affected Users’ Self Esteem

Despite Snapchat’s recent woes, it’s popularity among users is still solid, mainly because of their “beautifying filters” like fan favorites “flower crown,” butterfly wreath,” and “beauty” filter. These dynamic filters alter the user’s face, smoothing and whitening skin, changing eye shape, nose size, and jaw profile.

While these filters have been faring extremely well due to their almost universally flattering effects, especially among young women, they have also caused some concern among users who feel that the filters promote an unrealistic — and Eurocentric — standards of beauty.

“Here’s the really insidious problem with photo filters, they are programmed to Western beauty ideals,” wrote Nicole Williams in a viral Medium post. “They tell Polynesian and African American girls that their noses are too wide. They tell Asian women their eyes are too small. And it tells every woman, that their face should be skinnier.”

In an interview with USA Today, Williams said “These filters are designed to be beautiful, and they all fall in the same genre in a subtle and engaging way. Light eyes, skin tone, eye shape — these things can be subtle and have long-term effects and alter your view of yourself.” She also said that many people have Snapchat-filtered profile pictures on Facebook and Twitter and in the early days of Snapchat, she didn’t realize the photos had been altered, but that the people just looked great.

While experts have said that excessively taking and sharing selfies is indicative of traits like