Authenticity and freedom through beauty filters on social media

Authenticity and freedom through beauty filters on social media

But behind each filter is a person who draws lines and alters shapes on a computer screen to achieve the desired look. Beauty may be subjective, yet society continues to promote strict, unattainable ideals which – for women and girls – are disproportionately white, slender, and feminine.

Instagram publishes very little data about filters, especially beauty filters. In September of 2020, Meta announced that over 600 million people had tried at least one of its AR features. The metaverse is a much bigger concept than Meta and other companies investing in AR and VR products. Snap and TikTok are capturing huge numbers of filter users, although Snap is also investing in place-based augmented reality. Meta’s lineup of products includes the Oculus headset and Ray-Ban smart glasses, but it focuses on what made Facebook famous – the face.

Cosmetic filters, especially those that dramatically change the shape and contours of the face, are particularly popular — and contested. Instagram banned the so-called distortion effects from October 2019 until August 2020 due to concerns about their impact on mental health. The policy has since been updated to criminalize only filters that encourage plastic surgery. The policy states, “Content must not promote the use or depiction of the sale of a potentially dangerous cosmetic procedure, according to the Facebook Community Standards. This includes the effects depicting such procedures through the lines of surgery. According to a statement to the MIT Technology Review in April 2021, this policy is enforced by “a combination of human and automated systems to review impacts when submitted for publication.” However, the creators told me that distortion filters are often tagged inconsistently, and it’s not clear What exactly encourages the use of plastic surgery.

“get hot”

Although many people use beauty filters just for fun and entertainment, these tiny ears are actually quite a technical feat. At first it requires face detection, whereby the algorithm interprets the different shades of pixels that the camera picks up to identify the face and its features. Then a digital mask of some standard face is applied to the image of the real face and adapted to its shape, aligning the virtual jaw line and nose of the mask with the image of the person. On this mask, graphics developed by programmers create the effects that appear on the screen. Only in the past few years has computer vision technology allowed this to happen in real time and in motion.

Spark AR is the Instagram Developer’s Kit, or SDK, that allows AR effects creators to create and share face filters that cover their Instagram feed more easily. In the deep rabbit hole of YouTube explainer videos, I came across Florencia Solari, a creative AR tech and well-known creator of filters on Instagram. She showed me how to make a face filter that promises to plump and lift my cheeks and fill my lips for a surgically enhanced Kardashiansk face shape.

32% of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel bad.

“I have this blowout tool that I’m going to apply with symmetry,” Solari said, “because any adjustments I make to this face, I want it to be symmetrical.” I tried keeping up by dragging the cheekbone outline of the digital viewer up and out with the pointer. Next, I right-clicked on the map of her lower lip and selected “increase” several times, I play with God. Soon, with Solari as my guide, I had a filter that, although plain and simple, I could upload to Instagram and unleash the world.

Solari is part of a new class of augmented and virtual reality creators who have made their careers by mastering this technology. She started programming when she was about nine years old and was drawn to the creativity of developing the virtual world. Making her own Instagram filters was a hobby at first. But in 2020, Solari left a full-time job as an augmented reality developer at Ulta Beauty to pursue online augmented reality full-time as a freelance consultant. I recently worked with Meta and several other big brands (which they say they can’t disclose) to create branded AR web experiences, including filters.

Solari’s first candidate, called “vedette++”, appeared in September 2019. “I tried to provide an explanation of what the future star will be like,” says Solari. The filter applies a slightly iridescent and green sheen to the skin, which is all over smoothed and amplified under each eye so much that it looks as if half a clementine has been pushed inside each cheek. The lips are doubled in size, and the shape of the face is modified so that the distinct jaw line tapers to a small chin. “It was kind of a mixture of an alien creature, but with a face that seemed to be full of Botox,” Solari says. “It just got really exciting.”

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