FYI, Real Life Faces Don't Look Like Social Media Filters

by Holly Garcia
Artur Debat/Getty

I’ve been using a line serum on my forehead for a week or so now. It’s meant to target those pesky little buggers that have landed there because I permanently walk around with a what in the AF look on my face, brows raised. I blame the excess of seeing myself on screen for meetings and interviews galore for the recent scrutiny of these lovely little lines. I’ve never considered plastic surgery for myself, at least not for something insignificant like this. Instead, opting for that serum feels like a happy medium.

Honestly, I don’t know if it’s doing anything, but it makes me feel good. That dermatologist and plastic surgeon’s seal of approval was enough for me to make the $60 investment. It’s not that I want to stop myself from aging. I’d just like to give myself a gentle landing. Density loss, hydration retention, uneven texture, and much much more are all changes that will naturally occur with age and gravity. And yet filters and fillers seem to make some people think they can out-lift gravity. Uhm, hate to break it to you, babe, but it isn’t gonna happen. And overdoing it won’t going to keep your face fresher longer.

While some people choose to maintain their appearance with injections, fillers, and plastic surgery, others are doing so to create a whole new look. Y’all know the one I am talking about. Extremely angled cheekbones, an over-the-top pout, eyebrows that stay lifted 24/7 (without making that face). Many have gone far beyond normal maintenance and into a zone where filters are less for fun and more for unrealistic beauty standards.

What Happened To Natural Beauty?

Remember when photo filters were three different tones of black and white or a cute but obnoxious pair of dog ears and tongue that stuck out? Long gone are those days, or so I hear. Our perception of real and natural has been so warped by social media and filters. I mean, even Khloe Kardashian can’t handle a photo of her natural beauty. Well, technically, I’m not sure how much of that we can even say is natural, but you get the point. And actually, since we’ve got the Kardash-Klan front of mind, their faces are a prime example of what overdoing plastic surgery can look like.

I’m not saying they aren’t beautiful women. Obviously they are, but they would be just as beautiful without looking, nearly identical due to all the work they’ve had done. Plastic surgeon Dr. Julius Few explains this best. “Our anatomy is designed to sit in a certain way, and the goal is to subtly restore and enhance. This look is manipulating the face past natural boundaries.”

Y’all hear that? Restore your natural beauty. Enhance your natural look. This isn’t what people are doing. They’re literally trying to restructure their faces because the line between reality and perfection is so blurred, it appears to them as one and the same. In fact, Dr. Few is specifically concerned for younger patients, “Getting an abundance of filler at an early age while the skeleton is still developing,” she says, “could adversely affect the facial anatomy.” In other words, we don’t know what you’ll look like in 15 years. And certainly can’t guarantee there will be an easy fix.

Stop The Madness — Real Life Is Not a Filter

For someone who grew up on the cusp of technology being the end-all to be-all, you know when the Kardashians still looked like themselves. Back then, the focus was more on the perfect body aesthetic. But every generation has its thing, and this one is hyper-fixation on a symmetrical, unrecognizable, alienized face. I get it. When you are constantly bombarded by advertisements and social feeds full of faces looking a certain way, it makes you wonder if there is something wrong with yours.

I’m here to tell you, there isn’t, but if you don’t want to take my word for it, take it from the professionals. Another renowned plastic surgeon, Dr. Steven Harris, echos Dr. Few’s concerns, “Our industry is fast becoming a breeding ground for mental health illness. What sort of twisted standard of beauty are we creating?” When the doctors who are doing this work raise concerns, it’s definitely noteworthy. Any doctor, plastic surgeon or otherwise, has a primary oath: Do no harm.

There are many unknowns when it comes to how excessive use of cosmetic procedures impact patients physical and mental health. Long gone are the days when fillers and Botox were for enhancement. Now, these practices are used to ‘fix’ things that were never problematic to begin with, just normal. Not only could there be physical problems, but concerns with body dysmorphia, which manifests in fixating on a perceived flaw, is an even harder ailment to fix.

In the 2000s I fixated on changing my body because it looked different than everyone else’s. I always felt I looked different than what was ‘normal.’ It’s the same story now. But instead of reimagining our bodies to be stick-straight, we’re fixing our faces to look like something out of this world. These days we’re online more and seeing each other in real life less and less, so it’s important to keep things in perspective. We are each uniquely and beautifully made. A wrinkle here, a few lines there, are not the end of the world. Give yourself a chance to age, before you rush to fix anything. Because honestly, looking like yourself, perfect or not, will never go out of style.