How Instagram Filter-Shaming Has Me Feeling Judged And Frustrated

Don't make me feel bad about using Instagram filters.
Publish date:
September 26, 2013
Instagram, selfies, filters, adult acne, m-rated

#NoFilter. #NoMakeup. #FilterforWhat. #Selfie.

These are all Instagram hashtag reminders that unless the hormone gods, camera lens, and angle of the sun are in perfect alignment I will continue to boycott up close and personal selfies of myself, while also walking the fine line between hating on and fawning over the “natural beauties” that flood my Instagram timeline with redundant hashtag captions shaming those of us who choose to rely on photo enhancement and distortion known as filters to take our photos from blah to BAM.

Of course, I could use my YouTube certified MUA degree -- awarded to me after 2000 hours of viewing makeup gurus slather, press, and fluff their faces in effort to teach me how to conceal and contour my face to Kim Kardashian perfection -- but that will not change the fact that I suffer from hormonal adult acne, and once the makeup has been washed off, my confidence usually washes down the drain with it.

Oh, but the selfie queens feel the need to tap into Martin Lawrence’s “…look at how I float beotch” routine with every teasing hashtag and tongue-wagging pose declaring #NoFilter and #NaturalBeauty.

To be fair, those who post what seems like a minimum daily quota of fifteen selfies all with filter-shaming captions don’t do so with the intent of filter-shaming, but judgment and shame have unfortunately become the byproduct of #FilterForWhat and #IDontNeedAFilter hashtags.

Selfie queens have no idea, and I’m sure no fucks to give, that I’ve suffered from adult acne since my freshman year of college. (And no, stress of college life had nothing to do with the onset of my adult acne. In fact, college life should have had my skin all aglow, seeing as I was completely ecstatic to be 3000 miles from home and attending less than half of my first semester classes. And if lazing around wolfing delivered lasagna and greasy bread sticks while retelling the story of my most recent ill-fated decision to trek to a backwoods tattoo parlor without regard for contracting hepatitis or some other blood transmitted virus isn’t stress free pleasure, then I declare that I just don’t know how to a have a good time.)

They aren’t aware of my many el desperado moves that landed me in the chair of an acupuncturist who told me that, at age 27, I was “too old for acne,” or the two years in college when, in an attempt to end the war waged on my face and self-esteem, I boycotted all dairy products and -- to the dismay of collegiate male suitors -- sex, as though penis were string cheese to be strictly avoided lest my face erupt with more painful cysts on my jawline and cheeks, leaving in its wake enlarged pores and a cautionary tale of what belies women with adult acne.

Nope. The selfie queens don’t know that. My friends, on the other hand, are mostly aware of my more than a decade struggle.

The real filter-shaming was felt when my girlfriends -- who, by the way, always seem to have flawless skin and an iPhone on deck to take selfies of themselves at least five times before breakfast -- either out of acceptance, love, indifference with a quick shout out to sweet baby Jesus that adult acne is not their problem, or all of the above, never take my adult acne plight into consideration when posting selfies of themselves at places I am pretty certain I have a receipt for a glass of wine and an appetizer as proof that I was indeed present, yet omitted from the picture.

Of course the captioned hashtag of their photos read something like: #NaturallyPretty and #NoFilterNeeded. Immediately I’m sent into Instagram induced paranoia thinking, Did they discreetly take these pics without me because they think I’d ruin their ‘no filter needed’ streak? WTF friends?

No sooner than I begin to question their motives and allegiance to our friendship, do I remember that I have temperamental adult acne that has proven to successfully revolt against expensive creams, skincare regimens sold on late night infomercials, chemical peels, hormone suppressors, and oral antibiotics chased with a shot of apple cider vinegar strong enough to put hair on my chest, and wouldn’t participate in a group close up pic even if I were asked. I may be on board for a blurry side profile silhouette, but that’s about as good as it gets.

Just in case you all think I’m one of those people who goes around coining terms all willy-nilly, let me share that, just a few days ago, I witnessed ridiculously stunning American model Jessica White have one of her Instagram pictures filter-shamed by a commenter who simultaneously filter-shamed and forgave her for her apparent filter indiscretion with this exonerating one-liner, “ok have to let the filter slide. Still beautiful though…” Filter-shaming is real folks.

I realize that I’m being a tad bit sensitive and overly dramatic in denouncing filter-shaming, but not being able to claim #NoFilter or #NaturalBeauty, and being shamed for actually utilizing filters and photo effects, is to me equivalent to being a woman with obvious butt injections while the real big booty chicks pose -- ass first of course -- with #ItsAllReal or #SiliconForWhat photo captions.

While both the silicone and silicone-free woman may be desirable, we live in a society that has become so deeply immersed in shaming and feeling shamed that based on arbitrary society standards one woman is considered to be better than the other. Such is the case with #NoFilter captions and those whose pictures are admired for their #NoFilter splendor.

Though my ongoing battle with adult acne -- and my choice to hardly ever appear in public without at least a few dabs of concealer haphazardly applied to residual acne marks -- leave me feeling incessantly judged and shamed, I’ll be damned if I allow Instagram filter-shaming to make me feel like the girl with the silicone gluteal implants standing next to au naturel Big Booty Judy.