With TikTok’s Latest Beauty Filter, You’re A Younger Version Of Yourself

A new trending TikTok filter that pretends to take you back in time to when you were your adolescent self is giving older TikTok users a significant dose of nostalgia.

Teenage Look, which mostly works by smoothing wrinkles, has racked up 3.4 million views so far. It is frequently paired with the melody from “The Freshmen,” an alt heartbreak song by The Verve Pipe from 1996.

However, whereas baby face and aging filters have previously been popular on social media for the simple novelty of instantaneously experiencing one’s own time travel, many of the most popular teenage-filter posts have a more melancholy tone because users claim to be experiencing a flashback to some of their most formative years.

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According to one TikTok user, “If you’re young and you’re wondering why us old people are freaking out about this filter, it’s because 20, 30 years from now in your head you’re still gonna think you look like this,”

While some TikTokers are keeping things light by showing real photos of themselves as teenagers, others are using the filter to talk about how they didn’t feel confident in themselves when they were in high school or how hard things were for them. They use split screens of the before and after to give advice to their “younger” selves about how to live their lives.

However, large numbers of the posts highlighting tears and stunned countenances can feel performative for the wellbeing of virality (it is TikTok, all things considered), something bumping about is having the option to see a face that hasn’t glanced back at you in that frame of mind for quite a while.

Several users have stated that the filter has allowed transgender and non-binary people to see a younger version of themselves that is compatible with their gender identity, while others have claimed that it has brought up old feelings related to traumatic experiences they had during those years.

However, filters have frequently received widespread criticism for escalating issues with self-esteem, and an anti-aging filter in an anti-aging society, particularly for women, appears ideally suited to exacerbate this issue.

One small study from 2019 found that people who used filters on social media were more likely to accept cosmetic surgery. Harvard Business Review researchers found in 2021 that people who are confident in their looks can actually be more upset when they see “improvements” to their face than people who already had insecurities.

Additionally, the “Teenage Look” filter is more natural-looking than many of the available soft-focus or uncanny valley beauty filters, despite the fact that it may not always accurately portray an earlier you.

Some users have also mentioned that the unfiltered image shows the signs of aging more clearly after applying the filter. They claim that they are making the “now” appear worse in order to increase the drama.

Credit: Jacqui Palumbo

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