Why TikTok’s ‘Enhanced Beauty’ Feature Is Extremely Problematic

This beauty feature is truly horrifying.

Published11 Jun 2020, 12:19 PM IST
Social Buzz
3 min read

Danae Mercer, who actively works towards deepening the lines between what is real and what is fake on social media, to empower women, has called out TikTok for its new beauty enhancement feature. As mind-boggling and fascinating as the apps technology is (think all the possible dress-up games you’ve heard of and bring them to GTA level graphics but on YOUR face) it raises a number of pertinent questions about the kind of impact it makes on young users. Danae Mercer points out within a minute how something she can do to her face on an app instantly makes her feel bad about her actual appearance, and hence, must have similar scary mental effects on younger audiences.

She took to Instagram to share a screen recording of herself trying out all the various enhancement tools to “beautify” herself, and showed us the striking difference she achieved within a minute.

She outlined how such an obsession with looking a certain way and desiring instant results is problematic on a platform that has so many young people using it.

“This is NOT my face - but TikTok makes it easy to pretend otherwise. The app released an update with ENHANCED BEAUTY features. Now it’s possible to instantly change your jaw structure and nose size, to smooth out ALL your pores, to throw on layers of makeup with the click of a button, to make your eyes brighter, teeth wider, everything shinier. In an instant, I can be a whole new me. TikTok has nearly 800 million monthly active users. Around 41% of those are between 16 to 24-years-old. My instinct is a lot are younger — they just don’t have the stats.” she wrote.

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This is NOT my face - but TikTok makes it easy to pretend otherwise. The app released an update with ENHANCED BEAUTY features. Now it’s possible to instantly change your jaw structure and nose size, to smooth out ALL your pores, to throw on layers of makeup with the click of a button, to make your eyes brighter, teeth wider, everything shinier. In an instant, I can be a whole new me. TikTok has nearly 800 million monthly active users. Around 41% of those are between 16 to 24-years-old. My instinct is a lot are younger — they just don’t have the stats. Yet it’s a platform full of problems. Diet ads are common. So is a distorted weight-loss culture (just look, if you’re feeling strong and are not triggered, at hashtag weightloss). Videos featuring more marginalized communities are taken down. Same goes for anything considered ‘unattractive’. And now there’s this. This UPDATE. I don’t have any problem at all with makeup. Or with cosmetic treatments — when done by an adult, when done out of self love. I don’t really have a problem with much of anything, when it meets those requirements. I do worry about things like this. About what it will do to teens. About what it’s telling to the many, many 13 or 14 year olds that are on the platform. I’m 33. Mostly confident. Pretty media savvy. And playing with this, seeing the ‘perfect me’, it didn’t feel very nice. So what impact is it having on them? I don’t know, honestly. I don’t know. And like many things, I don’t know how to fix it. But at least we can be informed. . #feminist #socialmediavsreality #tiktok

A post shared by Helping gals feel normal ❤️ (@danaemercer) on

She pointed out how she didn’t feel very nice comparing her face to her Tik Tok’s version, and wondered what that does to so many young people who aren’t as strong and confident as her. “I don’t have any problem at all with makeup. Or with cosmetic treatments — when done by an adult, when done out of self love. I don’t really have a problem with much of anything, when it meets those requirements.I do worry about things like this. About what it will do to teens.About what it’s telling to the many, many 13 or 14 year olds that are on the platform. I’m 33. Mostly confident. Pretty media savvy. And playing with this, seeing the ‘perfect me’, it didn’t feel very nice.
So what impact is it having on them?” she asked in her caption.

While it might not be correct to single out TikTok, because god knows there are similar “filters” on Instagram and Snapchat and innumerable beauty apps that allow you to change the way you look in seconds, TikTok is perhaps one of the most commonly used apps by younger people.

In a world where beauty standards are constantly defining how women and young girls perceive their own worth, it is scary to think the kind of mental and emotional impact such a striking “difference” can make.

The problem isn’t that we give them access to something that allows them to change their face (remember dog filters?) the problem is how we package it, claim that this is beauty. Is it too wrong to believe children who grow up doing this to themselves simply to post a video online will quickly grow into teens craving plastic surgery? And then - what is the end to this? At what point do we allow people to feel confident and proud of their flaws, is making a business out of people’s insecurities going to continue to be permissible?

A thing to think about.

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