Bleats

Here’s Why Instagram’s Ban Of The 'Plastic Surgery’ Filter Is So Important

A modified body is not an attainable beauty standard.

Here’s a small truth: even if all filters and aspects of editing were removed from Instagram, it would still be a tough platform to navigate. Keeping a positive self-image and maintaining mental health on a platform teeming with seemingly perfect lives and bodies is hard for anyone.

When you’re flooded with so many images each day you’re consuming a lot of information about how you should act, what you should have and how you should look. On top of that, many popular accounts on Instagram portray standards that are incredibly unrealistic.

Thankfully, Instagram has taken steps to quieten the unrealistic portrayal of reality. Up until recently, the platform has allowed users to employ plastic surgery filters which give them a facelift or a lip filler effect. However, the platform has announced that it’ll be banning the use of these. According to BBC a spokesperson from Instagram said:

“We’re re-evaluating our policies – we want filters to be a positive experience for people.”

It’s a huge step in the right direction. Can you imagine the consequences of plastic surgery filters becoming “trendy?” Filters like these have the potential to alter people’s perception of what “normal” is and may lead users to feel that a modified body is a natural, attainable occurrence – that’s simply not the case.

Researchers have investigated the consequences of social media filters in the past and have even identified a phenomenon called ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia.’ The results were published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery in August 2019.

According to Dr Neelan Vashi, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre, “patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves”.

According to Independent, Dr Vashi also states that adolescents or those with BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) are particularly vulnerable to filtered images because they may more intensely internalise that modified beauty. Such research only further supports the ‘gram’s move to ban cosmetic filters.

Earlier this year, Instagram also restricted people under the age of 18 from seeing content that promoted weight loss or cosmetic products. However, the platform doesn’t ask users to specify their age, which means users as young as 10, 11 or 12 could be lying to access content restricted to those 18 and over.

It’s a slippery slope when it comes to Instagram, but if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that shutting-down sensationalised standards is always the right choice.

Is There Anything In This World More Entitled Than The Freeloading Travel Influencer?

Imagine requesting to stay at a resort for free.

Here’s a sad thing about living in 2019: travel spots that were once “hidden gems” are not so hidden anymore. It’s a hard truth to face but the concept of a unique and adventurous travel experience has almost been completely abolished. Who is the culprit? Instagram and travel influencers.

Through a simple hashtag search: #phillipines, #india, #thailand, we’re flooded with pictures of all the “remote” and “secret spots” of that particular country. Instagram’s over-exposure of certain places has led to some awful effects for the communities attached to them. This photography-focused platform has left low-socioeconomic communities vulnerable to mass-tourism.

A prime example of this can be seen on the Phillipines’ Boracay Island. In 2018, the entire island closed for six months out of need for restoration. I’m slightly impressed but mostly disgusted that a bunch of rowdy travellers and influencers caused enough havoc to shut down a literal island. There’s one silver lining here: at least, for those 6 months, the locals saw peace.

“Boosting the economy” is the card often used to justify mass-travel and for that argument, I have one question: would you care if your economy was “boosted” if it meant ruining the environment and worsening living conditions for the poor? That’s what’s happening in the Philippines, dear friends.

A representative from White Banana Beach Club in the Philippines recently told HuffPost that mass tourism has meant a massive surge in the price of goods and services which locals simply can not afford.  Considering that in 2015, almost a quarter of the country lived at or below the poverty line, this is a pretty dire consequence.

Posting to Facebook, White Banana Beach Club wrote, “We kindly would like to announce that White Banana is not interested to ‘collaborate’ with self-proclaimed ‘influencers.’ And we would like to suggest to try another way to eat, drink, or sleep for free. Or try to actually work.”

It’s hard to believe that travel influencers are doing this so frequently that this business felt they needed to publicly call it out? The sass in their post is astounding, inspirational and to be frank, completely called-for.

It appears some individuals are completely lacking in travel etiquette, so if you’re an aspiring traveller, here are some tips:

  1. Don’t ask for free things
  2. Support local businesses
  3. Minimise your waste. Invest in one of those high-tech water bottles that filter dirty water.
  4. And finally, if a place is already suffering from mass-tourism, go somewhere else.

By all means, take your selfies and live your best life but please, for the sake of struggling communities, stop engaging in horrific tourist behaviour.

People Are Horny Over Instagram 'Cleanfluencers' And Honestly, Are We OK?

God, they organise that so well.

We all know of the “influencer” but many of us are yet to come across the “cleanfluencer.” These Instagram users are passionate cleaners and you guessed it, they record themselves cleaning stuff. That’s their schtick. The whole schtick.

You best believe it’s legit – cleanfluencers have thousands of followers. It appears many of us have a total fetish for watching others clean and learning from their ways, and they’re not just on the Gram. They have merchandise, have written books on cleaning, and most of them have a YouTube channel. Mrshinchhome has 2.8 million Insta followers, The Organised Mum is sitting on 173,000 and This Girl Can Organise is at 109,000.

Nine times out of 10 cleanfluencers seem to embody that “soccer mum” look. The question that came out of my deep dive into their world was: why on earth are we so obsessed with watching people clean? Surely there’s more to life than that.

Here’s what I’ve learnt…

This Girl Can Organise

When I hop onto Nicola Lewis’ cleanfluencer Instagram, her bio says “professional home organiser”. I’m intrigued, as I didn’t know that was an occupation. But the second thing I noticed was a post that said:

“the closest I get to a spa these days is the steam from the dishwasher door smacking me in the face #motherhood”

This Girl Can Organise.

This is the first red flag for me. I quickly learnt that many cleanfluencers tend to glamourise that “self-sacrificing” mum image and it seems a little toxic. But there are positives: one of This Girl’s tid-bits is to engage her followers in a “summer detox” challenge where they tackle decluttering things one thing at a time – the car boot, the “junk drawer” at home, the shoe cabinet. She’s also a level 12 on the likeable scale.

Sophie Hinchliffe

I hop onto Sophie Hinchliffe Instagram account, arguably the internet’s “biggest” cleanfluencer and immediately I’m baffled. How does this woman have 2.8 million followers? All of her pictures are grey and white, her account is straight-up depresso. So I investigate further… and that’s when I come across this:

The first video on her YouTube channel is a tutorial on deep cleaning and it’s quality viewing. Seriously. After watching this I feel the strong urge to invite her to the pub. At one stage she pours soda crystals in her sink plugs, sprinkles them with water and sings “look at the fizz…look at the fizz… easily pleased mate” in her thick British accent.

The Organised Mum

Much like the other cleanfluencers I’ve discovered, The Organised Mum has her own merchandise and has even coined her own cleaning method: The Organised Mum Method. It involves spreading house chores over the course of the week so that one can “enjoy” their weekend.

I’m beginning to notice that cleanfluencer accounts are all run by mums and it feels a bit off. None of these influencers seems to mention that it’s not a woman’s responsibility to do the bulk of the housework.

But what is inspiring about the cleanfluencer is that she seems to be a self-made, successful businesswoman, which honestly, is pretty badass. Cleanfluencers seem to encourage “downtime” and self-care practices too, and we can’t complain with that. But I’m left wondering: where are the male cleanfluencers at?

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