Google has done well to remove beauty filter from its phones, but it can’t really police its app store for this

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October 6, 2020 7:00 AM

Google has done well to remove beauty filter from its phones, but it can’t really police its app store for this

Google’s move is to be lauded, but as long as beauty filters continue to be available on the Android Playstore as also other app stores, it likely won’t mean much.The suit talks of Google’s search index containing “hundreds of billions of webpages and is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size”.

Last week, Google announced that it would no longer include beauty filters in its phones’ camera app. Social and traditional media have helped popularise a rather constricted view on physical beauty; now, phones have also included such features to allow users to tweak their photos to conform to these standards of appearance.

Scientists see this as a factor behind poor mental health and appearance-related dysphoria, especially among teenagers and young adults. Google’s move is to be lauded, but as long as beauty filters continue to be available on the Android Playstore as also other app stores, it likely won’t mean much.

Also, limiting filters and similar apps will address just part of the problem. Body/appearance related dysphoria can’t be wished away if the larger society continues to celebrate a limited ideal of ‘beauty’—with attendant colourism, ageism, racism, etc, problems.

The more fundamental solution is to educate young, vulnerable minds to understand the blinkered construction of beauty ideals. Digital tools and platforms have indeed become levers of gathering/denying validation, and their role in mental health can’t be denied—the US’s department of health shows a worrying rise in teenage suicides in the country, and female teenagers are twice as likely as males to commit/consider suicide. But, banning beauty filters—self-imposed or enforced—will only be a small part of the solution.

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