Is Instagram Face A New Reality Now?


Tiny noses, pronounced cheekbones and full lips: young women all over the world want facial features as they are known from the Kardashian clan or supermodel Bella Hadid. How filters and fillers create a new ideal of beauty.

In the past, Kylie Jenner looked rather inconspicuous. She had a medium-sized nose, medium-full lips and medium-narrow eyebrows. Then she became famous with the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and became a billionaire make-up entrepreneur. Since then Jenner's appearance has changed dramatically. She now has the same facial features as her half-sister Kim Kardashian and like her friend, the model Bella Hadid. And like various other models, influencers and wealthy people.

The “New Yorker” recently called it the strangest legacy of the past decade: the appearance of a uniform, cyborg-like face among women who are beautiful by profession. It is the result of cleverly used image editing and ever more subtle surgical procedures. These women have tiny noses, very pronounced cheekbones and full lips. Your skin looks pore and wrinkle-free. Cartoon-like long eyelashes line almond-shaped eyes. Because it is a face that performs well online, it has been given the name Instagram Face.

instagram face

Around 95 million photos and videos are uploaded to Instagram every day. Since the app came onto the market a good decade ago, an entire industry has emerged from the desire to put itself in the best light. Filters and processing tools, which give skin as smooth as a mirror or enlarge eyes and reduce noses, help here. The Facetune program, which can be used to narrow faces or perfect jaw contours, has sold millions of times. Almost everyone who makes their money looking good on social media or elsewhere uses it. And even ordinary people present themselves online in an improved version: glossy, dazzling and a little surreal.

This digital face optimization has little to do with reality. Some want to change that.

What the filters project onto the face is more and more wanted in real life. People who you would not expect on the street to entrust their appearance to a surgeon.


People deal with their looks much more intensively today than in the past. Some people want to have the filter face with the big eyes and the smooth skin now also in real life.


Retouched photos are old hat in advertising and fashion magazines, but now everyone can manipulate images. A few clicks make for a narrower waist and a flawless complexion. Everyone on Instagram is happy and successful - and, thanks to software, also very pretty.

It is often only a small step from the filter to the cosmetic surgery

plastic surgery-instagram beauty

Psychologists assume that people save every face that they see in the course of their lives. From this, they form an average ideal picture, a prototype of beauty. It does not matter whether it can be clearly seen that a photo has been manipulated: you cannot perceive a face as a face. So, on average, more and more artificial or filtered faces are included. We have to assume that the ideal of beauty is changing faster than ever before.
Studies have shown that those who constantly compare themselves with beautiful pictures look at themselves more critically. For some, it's only a small step from the filter to the cosmetic surgery. The Snapchat app became a hit because it gave its users a polished look in addition to digital dog ears on selfies. As "Snapchat Dysmorphia", a study by the Boston Medical Center now describes the phenomenon that people go to the surgeon to look as beautiful as their filtered self-portraits.

It is not enough for many to stage themselves online. They want to turn the idealized image into reality. And the minimally invasive methods of cosmetic medicine help to adapt the real body to the ideally beautiful selfie.

Because the photo boom coincides with a revolution in aesthetic medicine. In the past, cosmetic surgery was a dramatic undertaking. They were expensive, painful, and risky. If you wanted to get rid of fat or wrinkles in this way, you had to go to the operating table and then take weeks or months to recover from the procedure. Sometimes celebrities were filmed for television as they suffered for their beauty goals.

The surgeon's work is similar to that of a sculptor

plastic surgery

Then botox and so-called fillers with hyaluronic acid came onto the market. The nerve poison botulinum toxin paralyzes muscles and thus prevents the formation of wrinkles, hyaluronic acid is an endogenous substance that plumps up the skin. Both are injected under the skin to smooth them. The treatment often only lasts a few minutes. You can have it administered during a lunch break and then back to the office.

And it's not just wrinkles that have been filled in for a long time. With hyaluronic acid, you can model entire faces without surgery. Depending on where the fillers are injected, angular jaws and striking cheekbones arise where there were none before. Nose bumps are smoothed, lips are padded. The facial features can be lifted with a so-called liquid lift. Some doctors offer complete facial designs that completely overhaul the face. Those who are willing to invest enough money can completely change their proportions. The surgeon's work is similar to that of a sculptor. Volumes are modelled like a sculpture.

The fashion label Balenciaga recently sent models with cheek prostheses and puffed lips over the catwalk. Balenciaga's creative director Demna Gvasalia, who is known for his work with extreme volumes, also wanted to shift boundaries and proportions when it came to the face, it said. You could understand that as a caricature. But it also shows how present the filter face is.

The methods of doctors have developed rapidly in recent years. In the past, surgeons injected directly into the folds. Today you work indirectly, highlighting certain features.  Ten years ago, when only a handful of surgeons and dermatologists offered the procedure, it is now part of the standard program.

The body as equity

Ideally, the intervention cannot be recognized. In the end, you just look a little bit different, more beautiful in a conventional way. Nowadays almost no one makes exaggerated lips. The fillers are the next step after visiting the hairdresser. Because they disappear by themselves after a while, you can simply satisfy a mood. It's like saying: I'm in a bad mood now, I have my hair cut.


Everything is possible, everything is work in progress.


Hardly anyone has internalized the principle like the Kardashians, whose business model is based on an endless loop of staging, rejection and reinvention of images. Kim Kardashian, who published an illustrated book with her collected selfies in 2015, is considered the blueprint of the new ideal of beauty. There are countless women on Instagram who look like their doppelgangers. The rest of the family is also versatile. She has always denied major interventions. All just filters, fillers and make-up. No big deal.

In attractiveness research, you measured exactly what makes a beautiful face. For women, big eyes, a flawless complexion, a snub nose and full lips are part of it, for men an even nose and a pronounced chin. The Instagram Face is the extreme version of this ideal. Until now, such a look was reserved for those who had hit genetics particularly well. Models and actresses were miles away from us. You could only approach your idols to a limited extent. They did sports to get the body into the desired shape or dyed their hair. But the face could not be changed fundamentally. In the meantime, it is possible to adapt it to almost any desired ideal of beauty. That is new.


Jenner lips, Jenner cheek contours



Kylie Jenner has turned her new face into a billion-dollar business by making it the figurehead of her own makeup line. Her Instagram face is a trademark. In the United States and the United Kingdom, doctors sell so-called Kylie-Jenner packages that promise a re-modelling in the style of the reality star. It hardly matters that Jenner still looks very different on TV than in pictures that she took and edited. Anyone who used to go to the hairdresser with the illustrated photo of a Hollywood star now demands Jenner lips and Jenner cheek contours.

Instagram, the app that gave the phenomenon its name, has banned a few filters. They had names like "Plastica" and "Fix Me" and had spread rapidly.

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