Mirror, Mirror on the Phone: How Social Media Beauty Filters Impact South Asian Women

Translating feminist research commons into images.


GenderIT (Association for Progressive Communications)





For the longest time, I thought that women like myself relied so heavily on facial filters because we did not fully comprehend the long-term damage they caused to our sense of self and appearance. Now, however, I know that we voluntarily participate in the digital ‘disciplining’ of our faces despite being aware of the cost it comes at. For centuries, beauty, for women, has come at a cost. The occasional burns and rashes from waxing, the painful nipping of stray eyebrow hair during threading, the razor cuts from hours of shaving the arms and legs in the shower, or, for us brown women, the stinging bleaches meant to erase our melanin. Perhaps it is no surprise that once again, we are willing to be beautiful, and pay the price for it, staring at our chosen filtered face on our device; the cracked mirror that solemnly promises us we are the fairest of them all.