Instagram continues to cut down on potentially damaging features with their recent decision to remove all plastic surgery filters. You’ve certainly seen them clicking through your Instagram Stories — the exaggerated filters show what a person would look like with lip fillers or a slimmer nose. Maybe you’ve even tried them yourself. It might seem like harmless fun, but advocates have long been expressing concerns over the effect on users’ self-esteem and body image.
According to a Facebook statement made by Spark AR, the company responsible for Instagram Story filters, the app will eliminate all plastic surgery filters over the next few weeks. Additionally, any new plastic surgery filters in the pipeline will be postponed indefinitely. “Spark AR effects to be a positive experience and are re-evaluating our existing policies as they relate to well-being,” the company said in their statement.
Instagram appears to be taking initiative in making Instagram a safer, more inclusive environment, as such filters could make users feel the need to actually get plastic surgery. And this is no exaggerated idea. Research shows the pressure to appear perfect online has made way into the real world, and according to a recent article in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, an increasing number of patients are seeking plastic surgery to look more like the filtered version of themselves on popular social media.
This is certainly a welcome change on the platform, especially after Instagram came under fire for allowing users to promote harmful weight-loss products. Last month, the app finally cracked down on such advertisements, banning posts from claiming unrealistic results (like dropping 10 pounds in a couple of days) as well as enforcing age restrictions.
Compounded by the amount of body altering and photoshopping on the app, Instagram has become a source of anxiety for many users who are being constantly fed unrealistic beauty standards. Multiple studies have shown that depression and other mental health issues are being linked to Instagram usage, especially in young populations. It’s nice to see Instagram finally stepping up to enact a much needed change. Hopefully, they’ll continue their efforts in making the platform a safe space for all.