Welcome to Artist Spotlight #20 series on my blog.
Discerning what’s “real” or “fake” has become increasingly difficult in the 21st century. Make-up artist and model, Sasha Pallari, realised the dangers of Instagram editing techniques and proposed a call-to-action with the hashtag, #FilterDrop. It all started when Sasha saw that many brands had reposted stories and grid pictures that featured influencers who’d applied a filter. Some of the shares were obviously edited, but others were deceptive.
Keen to hear what her followers thought about filters, she posted a story that outlined her worry. Alongside a candid selfie, she wrote: “Have I lost my mind or? I lose followers every time I post an unattractive photo (and if you’ve been here a while you’ll know how often it is) and that shan’t ever stop. But there’s a kick in the mouth and then there’s a kick. in. the. mouth.” Referring to a heavily filtered cream blush tutorial she’d seen on the Instagram story of a “huge brand”, Pallari later expressed that companies should be more responsible. “It’s misleading”, she tells British Vogue.
The full caption reads:
The other night I noticed an influencer with close to 300k followers advertising a makeup brand with a beautifying filter on. Maybe she isn’t confident enough to talk to the camera without one and that genuinely makes me sad. There’s an endless list of reasons why that may be but I can guarantee the immense pressure this society puts on us to constantly look perfect is one of them. I so strongly wish you would realise the vast scale of damage the constant use of filters are. Flawless, poreless, scarless, wrinkle-less skin does not exist and it’s only because of the overuse of these we believe it does.
The brand shouldn’t be happy for their products to be advertised this way and for them to be described as ‘natural looking on the skin’ whilst those filters are applied. This behaviour, addiction and constant craving to BE beautiful is feeding into the insecurities of future generations and the damage is worrying.
Please ask yourself if you’d be happy for your children to only base their worth on how beautiful they are, the filter they need in order to even be beautiful. We are born with an abundance of confidence, but we grow up slowly having it chipped away by unrealistic beauty standards.
The way you talk to people, the way you treat people, the way you smile at people. Anything a filter can’t touch is where real beauty is.
“So many people have told me their personal stories about how it affects them and how they think they look horrible and disgusting and everyone else looks so polished,” Sasha remarks. As a reaction to the response, she founded #FilterDrop, an extension of her existing social message #BestYou. “Looking beautiful is an opinion, feeling beautiful is a choice,” she says.
Pallari encouraged followers to share unfiltered videos and images alongside the hashtag, which prompted thousands of users to post make-up free selfies (if they were “brave enough”). One woman told Sasha that sharing was “worse than having a baby”, while a 15-year-old girl thanked the make-up artist for her inspiration. “She mentioned that she no longer wakes up two hours before school to do her make-up. She still enjoys make-up but it’s for enjoyment rather than hiding and covering her face, which is just amazing.”
Fuelled by the momentum of the campaign, Sasha used her platform to repost #FilterDrop imagery, which soon caught the eye of the media. “It’s just been absolutely insane. I’ve had 9 radio interviews, two television chats… it’s been non-stop,” she laughs. “It’s all about spreading the message.”
Recognising editing usage on Instagram has become harder, and considering the subtleties of some of the filters available on the app, knowing if someone has adjusted their smile, whitened their teeth or slimmed their cheeks is practically impossible. To the trained eye, Photoshop is easy to spot. But for the young generation of users, whose daily routine includes avidly scrolling (and scrolling, and scrolling) through their feeds, filtered content has become the norm.
Investigating further is the next step for Sasha. “I currently have a case being processed with the ASA [Advertising Standards Authority]. It outlines that in the same way that a user would have to mark if something has been sent as a PR product, accounts should have to mark that a filter has been used on their stories or grid pages.”