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Image / Style / Beauty

Why I can’t bring myself to post a make-up-free, filter-free selfie


by Aisling Keenan
17th Apr 2021
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People message me every day to tell me not to filter myself on Instagram, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Here’s why I can’t bear to see my own make-up free, unfiltered face…

I don’t know exactly when it happened. But I can no longer look at myself in the reverse camera on my phone without a filter. I’m horrified by my freckles, my wrinkles, the size of my pores. I wonder why my make-up doesn’t look as flawless as others’ online. I wonder why I look tired, even after a decent night’s sleep.

Not Alone

I can’t possibly be the only one that feels this way – am I? – but in spite of that, I regularly get Instagram direct messages from lovely, well-meaning people who follow me saying something like, “You don’t need the filter! You look great without it!”. This feels, to me, like an insult, and not the compliment I suspect they were trying to give.

I DO ‘need’ the filter, thank you. Not for you, though. For me.

I hate my skin, I hate how my double chin looks, I hate when I don’t have time to do my make-up. The last time I took a picture of myself without a filter (willingly) was actual years ago at this stage.

Instagram Lies

I started to think, okay, why do I feel this way? And the answer is, in fact, filters. When everyone around you is photoshopping, putting each of their pictures through multiple apps before posting, and absolutely never letting anyone see their ‘true’ skin/hair/nails, you begin to question your own beauty standard.

You wonder why your cuticles are a mess, why your hair isn’t as frizz-free and why your foundation just won’t stay put on your nose – particularly when every second picture you see is of a smooth, preened and polished celebrity or influencer.

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Self-image

Dove recently did a survey of women internationally, and found that just 4% of us state feeling ‘beautiful’. This is staggering when you think about it. But why is that? Is it because the construct of beauty we’re being shown is one particular version, and we see it so much with social media that anything that doesn’t stack up is unworthy of the title ‘beautiful’?

But maybe the diversity we’re now seeing on social media in terms of skin colour, size and shape isn’t enough? Maybe we need to see more make-up-free images, more unfiltered skin, more natural beauty. I know I would benefit from a more pared-back version of what makes someone beautiful because my confidence to show my real face might not be as rattled.

Moving on

I don’t think I’ll have the confidence any time soon to go make-up free, to go online without a filter or to show my ‘real’ face off to anyone other than my husband, dog and best pal. But I’ll work towards it because otherwise, I won’t just be catfishing the Instagram world, but I’ll be catfishing myself.

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