The latest face filters on TikTok are racking up millions of views, and although new trends using the #boldglamourfilter and #teenagefilter might be fun or nostalgic, some critics say they can also be harmful to one's mental health and promote unrealistic beauty standards.
Influencer Kay Brooks shared a TikTok post on Feb. 25 in which she shows herself both with the #boldglamourfilter -- which retouches a user's appearance, makes lips appear fuller and adds bold makeup -- and without the filter.
"I didn't understand because nobody was showing what they looked like without this filter, but you need to see what I look like right now," Brooks said in the video, which has since been viewed more than 1 million times.
After showing the effect of the filter on her face, she added, "This should be illegal."
- 3April 30, 2021
Brooks told "Good Morning America" she was shocked by the filter's effect.
"It literally looked like my face had been photoshopped, like instantaneously, which for anyone who knows anything about Photoshop is insanely hard to do and takes a lot of time, so yeah, I was just astounded. I was like, 'This isn't real,'" Brooks said.
The #boldglamourfilter hashtag specifically has already accumulated over 60 million views on TikTok.
The #teenagefilter hashtag, meanwhile, has garnered over 357 million views so far.
In a Feb. 20 TikTok post set to The Verve Pipe's 1997 hit "The Freshmen," user Krissy Van shared a side-by-side view of what she looked like with and without the "teenage filter."
"I see my grandmother as a young girl," Van wrote in the caption, adding, "This is a beautiful filter that brought out some beautiful memories. 🥺❤️."
Van told "GMA" she felt the #teenagefilter -- which shows users as a younger-looking version of themselves, with smoother skin and fewer natural imperfections -- had a positive effect on her.
"It was first shocking, honestly, because to be able to see something come from an image so quickly, for one, it's a little scary, but at the same time, I feel like it gives a lot of other people hope in some way," Van said. "My perspective was one way and others could look at it another way. And it's just ... I feel like it's a beautiful, beautiful thing personally."
Not everyone is a fan of the filters, however. User Erica Taylor shared her own #boldglamourfilter post on TikTok on Feb. 27. Taylor wrote in the caption, "This filter at 46" along with two exploding head emoji.
"I don't know why I'm doing the work when I can just put this filter on and just pretend," Taylor said in the video clip. "It's a whole lot of work for nothing. Nobody sees me anyway because that would be disappointing. That filter makes you feel very sad."
Therapists like Lindsay Fleming say the filters can cause psychological distress, mental health issues, and lead to poor body image perception in children and teenagers, although adults aren't immune to its negative effects either.
"We're giving a false sense of this is how people really look or could look like the reality," Fleming told "GMA." "We're getting people who are already struggling with how they feel about how they look and saying if you know how to do your makeup, you could look like this."
For some, TikTok filters lead to an obsessive interest in the appearance of oneself and of others, according to Fleming.
"We're seeing people really fixated on how they look and comparing again to that filter," Fleming said. "It's gonna feed that negative self-talk that someone who's already struggling with self image has in their head."
TikTok declined to comment on the new face filters but told "GMA" that the company does work to diversify what users see in their For You feeds and on the app so they don't see posts only about one topic. The company has also worked to prevent overtly mature themes from reaching users under the age of 17.
TikTok isn't the only social media platform that offers such face filters. Other apps like Instagram and Snapchat provide filters to users that can alter one's appearance as well.
Meta, Instagram's parent company, has not directly addressed criticism over its face filters and the effect they have on users, but according to a report by the Wall Street Journal in September 2021 -- known as "The Facebook Files" -- researchers have broached the topic internally. According to the Journal, a slideshow presented by Facebook researchers in March 2020 acknowledged that "thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse," and that Instagram worsened body image issues for 1 in 3 teen girls.
Snapchat has not directly addressed its face-altering filters publicly.