HOW DO YOU DEFINE BEAUTY IN A WORLD FULL OF FILTERS?

It's time to redefine our concept of beauty. To take away the fake filters and to focus on what really makes us lovely.

SELFIES VS REALITY

I bought a new phone last year. I don't buy expensive phones because I don't use them for more than calling, texting, and taking random photos. I'm not on Instagram and I rarely take photos unless we're on holiday or there's an "occasion" to celebrate. 

I like my new phone/camera because it ticks all the boxes and takes much better photos than my old one did. I'm not a selfie taker - they always remind me of the meme of "this is what I think I look like - and what I actually look like"...

selfie meme

I discovered (via social media of course!) that there's a whole industry out there that teaches you how to take a flattering selfie - but I'm just not into taking photos of myself - I already know what I look like, and I've got more interesting things to do with my time these days.

DEFAULT CAMERA SETTINGS

The only time I use the front facing camera on my phone is when I'm taking a picture with my husband on holidays or when I'm with the grandgirls. Sometimes it's the simplest and easiest way to grab a quick photo when there's no other way to snap one.

That being said, I noticed in a couple of pics that my lips looked quite pink, and the grandgirls always seemed rosy cheeked. I've refused to learn how to use filters on my photos because they smooth things out and make you look like a store manequin, so I knew I hadn't done anything to create the rosy effect........until my daughter-in-law (who has the same phone) told me that she'd noticed the same thing - and when she checked her camera settings, she discovered that it had a pre-set default for the front facing camera to automatically add "beautification" to selfies. 

LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD

The camera settings were all natural with no pre-set filters when facing outwards, but when turned to the front they automatically made the user "prettier" - without needing to change to "portrait" mode or selecting a filter. I figured that the auto setting wouldn't be in place if there wasn't a world full of people who wanted to look rosier, slimmer, bigger eyed, smaller nosed, and generally "prettier" in every photo they take of themselves. And I thought that was incredibly sad.

My daughter-in-law had felt the same way and turned the auto setting off. She showed me how to do it on my phone too and now I can take a "real" photo of myself. I may look my age, I may look less smooth and my lips may be paler, but it will be "me". I can't change this world we've created where outer beauty is so idolized, but I can choose not to participate in it where possible. I can choose to focus on what's important and step away from the rest.

OUTER BEAUTY VS INNER BEAUTY

How we define beauty seems to have gradually slipped from being a beautiful person on the inside to being a beautiful shell. And if you haven't got all the features you need to compete with others, your phone will level the playing field. All those filters and settings that I didn't even know existed, are there for the taking. We can all create this illusion of eternal youth and prettiness......but why is that the ultimate goal? Why are we constantly looking outward instead of choosing to look inward?

I intend to focus my interpretation of beauty around developing inner qualities like kindness, gratitude, joy, positivity, selflessness, acceptance, and being interested in other people (and not just in myself). When you're that type of person, the light just shines out of you - and that's true beauty - not this fake, filtered external version we've been handed by social media.

If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely. Roald Dahl

REMEMBER TO SMILE

It doesn't matter whether you're having your photo taken, or whether you're home alone, at the supermarket, out walking, or chatting with someone, the other secret to beauty is to smile. Genuinely smile, let the pleasure of being alive light up your smile and your eyes. Enjoy your life, appreciate all your blessings, be present when you're with others. Put your phone (camera) down and just be your natural, lovely self. You can't get more beautiful than that.

Let's all start redefining beauty back to what it used to be before Instagram filters and selfie tutorials changed how we see ourselves. Let's be natural, make the most of who we are, and focus on what's around us - rather than how we look. Once we take our eyes off ourselves, we see the beauty in the world around us - and that's so much more real than any photograph taken with a phone filter..

The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes. The true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives and the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman only grows with the passing years. Audrey Hepburn

JUST A FINAL NOTE

The weekend after writing this post, I read an opinion piece that was based around the opposite side of the coin. The reporter was defending her use of filters on her selfies, stating "Can't I love myself and still use a filter to feel good about how I look in photos?" The answer should be "Yes, of course you can." But the ultimate inconsistency in the article came in the last few paragraphs where she talks about the cosmetic surgery she's undergone (and future surgery "face-tuning" she wants to undergo) to match this Instagram filtered version of herself. 

I was left with such a feeling of sadness for an attractive woman who had allowed filters to define her perception of beauty and self-worth to the point that she'd undergo surgery to match the illusion she's been caught up in. 

It definitely reinforced why I've turned my filters off.

Filters, Fillers and Self-Love newspaper opinion piece

RELATED POSTS


It's time to redefine our concept of beauty. To take away the fake filters and to focus on what really makes us lovely.

It's time to redefine our concept of beauty. To take away the fake filters and to focus on what really makes us lovely.
JUST A FINAL NOTE:

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive

40 comments

  1. I don't take many selfies & when I do I don't use filters mainly because I tend to post pics quickly as I take them & without editing. I do, however, try and use the best possible natural light. I don't have a problem with making the best of what nature has given me and while I wouldn't do the cosmetic surgery or injectibles thing myself, I don't really have an issue with people who do. But then I also tend not to follow "influencers" - although my daughter tells me that I actually am, I just am not aware of it.

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    1. I always laugh when someone says I'm a Midlife influence Jo - I guess being associated with so many famous women (novelists, exercise gurus, chefs, community heroes etc) just takes me to the next level :D

      I think nothing beats a fun, bright, natural selfie - but when they become so filtered and 'glowy' that they're almost a bit weird, or so prolific that people are rolling their eyes, then I think it's time to step back and wonder why we've become so focused on our appearance and comparisons. IG has a lot to answer for IMHO - far too many plastic clones leading naturally lovely young women astray....

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  2. I did, however, check that I don't have any auto filters turned on lol.

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    1. That made me smile - I felt quite "old" when I realized there were so many added extras that I wasn't even aware of!

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  3. Love the selfie comparison. I always hate my own images as initially they don't seem to reflect the way I think I look. A few days later however and I think they look okay. It is very strange seeing yourself in this manner. I don't use the filters on my phone - maybe I should!

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    1. I just don't really understand the need to constantly take photos of your own face and post them online - I totally understand an occasional one, but I like the idea of it being natural and spontaneous - and not so altered that people wonder who it is! Wait til you're another 20+ years older! I'm thinking I need the candelight filter!

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  4. Hi, Leanne - I 100% agree that beauty on the inside shines through on the outside. If more people focussed in inner beauty that would make a positive world-wide difference!

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    1. I'm soooo glad you get what I'm trying to say Donna. I'm not opposed to people taking photos of themselves, just the fixation on it and the need to alter their natural look to try to emulate a plastic IG version of someone - it's just so sad.

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  5. Hi Leanne, I take selfies, I make videos and reels for Instagram but always it is 'what you see is what you get'. I'm actually starting to be over everyone getting hung up on what others say or do. For example, if you want grey hair have grey hair but I might not want that so don't judge me for it. I see images on social media of Grandmothers and the memes always show women in their late 80s. You and I are grandmothers and we don't look like that. For me it is about being true to yourself and if someone wants to do something that doesn't sit well with me I don't do it but I respect their right to do what they feel is right for them. Beauty on the inside will always win out because it never ages.

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    1. I think the nutshell of it all is being your natural, beautiful self Sue. I find women who post unaltered pictures of themselves loving life and sharing positivity very inspiring. On the other hand I find images of blurry, altered, "enhanced" women a little bit sad - especially when they're posted over and over in similar poses. I wonder why they need to do that and then to take it to the next level of cosmetic surgery to match that unreal image just seems really sad to me - how are they going to cope with getting older?

      I want to see women rocking their authentic selves and being real about the lives they're living - striving to be really good human beings and not "shiny shells" that are created by an app. Let's all promote "what you see is what you get" - I love it when you're a bit windswept from a beach run - that's real and authentic!

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  6. I like the idea of ' you see is what you get'! I used to use that term when teaching computers to inmates in my correctional centre WYSIWYG - just a random fun fact!
    I actually went and checked out the reporter in the article on Instagram and would you believe it, I have more followers than her :) That made me smile for some reason - me who does take a mean selfie from time to time, who is 61 years young and can smile like there's no tomorrow!!!
    Interesting post - inner beauty that shines out of a person's eyes and body and smile is way better than any filter or filler - for that matter!

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    1. Hi Deb - you're one of those Midlife influencers that I love knowing (and you don't need to have any "tweaks" done to have more followers than a well known WA reporter!) It all comes back to focusing on growing your inner beauty and that just shines out and is far more beautiful than any nips, tucks, false eyelashes, botox, or chin lifts :)

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  7. Hi Leanne, loved reading this "different" post. I am also not into so much of photos and therefore not very much into Instagram, though I do have an account. Selfies are okay. But shouldn't become an obsession. And filters alter reality. And that's not good. Everyone is beautiful in their own way. And like you rightly said the real beauty of a person is not in how he looks but how behaves and perceives the world around him.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - "filters alter reality" is perfectly said. Take as many photos as you like, but be real, show your true self, and if you aren't perfect then you're just like the rest of us. I find the prettiest people are the ones who care about others and who embrace imperfection in themselves and in those around them - so much better than filters.

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  8. Hi Leanne. I'm with you on just being real and authentic. I haven't learned about turning on filters, for doing videos. I've been more focused on content. I do care about how I look, and want to put my best foot forward, but at the same time, I just want to be the real me! Thanks for sharing. It was so well thought out. xxx Christina Daggett

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    1. Hi Christina - I love your videos because they're based on what you're doing and your interesting life - rather than on how perfectly it all comes together and whether you have the lighting just right, or your filters on to look more glamorous. In a world that has become so artificial it's always a pleasure to watch something real. x

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  9. GREAT POST ON TODAYS LIFE WITH A CAMERA!DO YOU RECALL When PEOPLE HATED HAVING THEIR PHOTO TAKEN?NOT SO LONG AGO.......I DO TAKE SELFIES ONLY TO SHARE WHAT I WEAR AND MY COLLECTIONS AND PETS......ITS A CREATIVE OUTLET FOR ME AS I WAS IN FASHION FOR YEARS!
    PLUS I"M STUCK AT HOME WITH A FEW SICKNESSES BEFORE COVID AND IT ALLOWS ME TO CONNECT WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD.I like to think I spread a bit of JOY with others.........
    I have NO IDEA where the filters are on the camera and probably never will I take the photo and POST.NO work will be done on me as I age as THE WORK looks WORSE than the ACTUALLY AGING in my opinion!WE have earned these WRINKLES AND GRAY HAIRS........CELEBRATE IT!

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    1. Oh that was a joy to read Contessa! For a fashion and lifestyle blogger to leave the filters turned off is so refreshing - and I'm sure that it makes your readers relate even more to what you post. I hope you're doing well and that covid isn't impacting too much on your health or daily life. :)

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  10. That meme is so true for me - I am the world's worst selfie taker! I am less about the filters and more of a what you see is what you get kind of person. I was so shocked to read that your phone came with a pre set pretty filter - it's kind of sad really!

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    1. That phone filter just flabergasted me Sam - all those extra little settings on without me even realizing (shows how few selfies I'd taken!) I'm not sure when we all started to become so insecure - but I refuse to play the game and I'll stick with the real me - less smooth but much happier!

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  11. This is a really interesting topic Leanne. I was shocked when I read about the auto beautification setting. I also think it’s very sad. I don’t take selfies and I don’t use filters on any of my photos. I’m on instagram but I know my photos just don’t compare to the touches up photos of so called “influencers” I just can’t be bothered. It really makes me wonder what the world has come to.

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    1. I think IG has turned "fake" into "real" for a lot of people Jen. So many believe that what they see is an actual quick snap - when in fact it's the product of hours of setting up, taking, refining, filtering, and agonizing. When did our world become so shallow?

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  12. A great conversation starter here Leanne. I know you have my thoughts about selfies for me and the why on your FB page.
    Thank you for sharing Your blog post linked for #LifeThisWeek. I look forward to seeing you again when you next link up! Warm wishes. Denyse.

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    1. I think you are on the same page as I am Denyse - keep it real, keep it under control, and stop comparing ourselves to others fake images :)

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  13. Very interesting post, Leanne! How sad about that default "beautification" filter!! It's generally sad what society has become in this context and when you talk about shells, you're spot on. I rarely take selfies, only if I need them specifically for something. I don't use filters on selfies but on one I've played around with smoothing effects in Photoshop because I had recently learned about the function. :)
    I've always been very self-conscious about my looks and unhappy about it and the pandemic has made it worse since I have to see myself all the time on Zoom! But I've never seen any point with creating a fake appearance in photos. When people see me IRL they'll have to accept the real me anyway! My best selfies are screenshots I take from videos where I play the guitar. Recently when I saw some of them, I realised how much I look like my father, and that made me so happy (he died when I was 19) that I've almost stopped caring about the rest. And I'm too old to be miserable about my looks - I'll focus on enjoying life instead.

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    1. How lovely that you can see the family resemblence Susanne - and to see it while you're doing something you love. I see my father in me sometimes and that bothers me because he wasn't a particularly great person - so I try to look past that and develop my inner qualities so I can look past the superficial and know that I'm not passing the legacy on to my children. To have a father you miss is a lovely thing indeed.

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  14. This was an interesting post. This discussion of filters reminds me of all the talk about air-brushing magazine photos creating an unrealistic view of women not so long ago. It's just that now the airbrushing is available to everyone with a phone (which is pretty much everyone). I also save my selfies to capture a special moment with a loved one, and I couldn't agree more that the most important beauty feature is a genuine smile.

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    1. Hi Christie - you're right about filters being the new air-brushing. Both are fake, both lead to unrealistic expectations, and both focus on the outer, glossy version of ourself rather than the inner glow and a genuine smile. It's really sad - especially for the younger generations.

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  15. It seems like we have just forgotten to appreciate the way we look naturally. Filters and all have given us such high expectation of how to ideally look, I wonder how we would cope with in the future

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    1. I'm hoping that people will wake up to the reality that smoothed out, pinked up, cartoonish versions of themselves are not a true record of their life and they'll go back to looking for genuine natural images of themselves - fingers crossed.

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  16. Hi Leanne, A genuine smile, a natural look and inner beauty are way better than any filter or the unnatural images shared on social media. Thank you for sharing this with #weekendcoffeeshare.

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    1. I couldn't agree more Natalie. I think our world has become a sadder place with its emphasis on glamour vs genuine and real beauty that comes from a good heart.

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  17. A genuine smile is the most beautiful filter.

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    1. Perfectly said Maria - I certainly think so!

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  18. I absolutely hate taking selfies. I love the emphasis you placed on inner beauty in this post. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'm the world's worst selfie taker Jan - and as I've gotten older I've seen how ugly some pretty people can be and how beautiful some very plain people can be. Inner beauty always shines through and wins.

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  19. I agree about inner beauty mattering more, but the emphasis on outer beauty--especially for women--isn't new. Social media + camera phones magnify the problem, but obsession over appearance and the insecurity it breeds was common when I was a teenager in the 80s. Celebrity culture and retouched photos in beauty magazines definitely existed too. Maybe I'm an incurable optimist, but one of the things I like about social media and selfies is seeing more regular people of all ages sharing their images with the world (filtered or not). It's fun, and it can provide a broader definition of beauty--I hope.

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    1. Yes photoshop has a lot to answer for Janet! I think distorting reality and giving women false images has really damaged self-acceptance and our understanding of what a normal person looks like. I hope that there are enough 'real' examples out there to counter this, but from what I've seen, it's still weighted heavily in favour of glamour unfortunately.

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  20. So so good Leanne. I don't use filters either, and when I edit photos, I go for as natural as possible. I remember when my daughter had her senior photos done by a friend who is an amazing photographer, my daughter said "don't edit to remove or soften my freckles", the photographer said "of course not!". They are part of who she is and she has always loved them. I want who people see on the IG to be who they see in real life. Sure it's fun to play with filters but I think it can be really easy to get used to using them. I know when I look through IG I often wonder what these women really look like without a filter.

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    1. Hi Kirstin - I think we all like to see nice photos of ourselves and to look our best (that's why we have nice haircuts or put on makeup) but when we can't allow ourselves to been seen for who we are, then things have gone to another level. When cameras automatically "beautify" photos then it's another level again. I just think our world is setting standards that aren't real and it causes more harm than good.

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