In 1891, Oscar Wilde famously wrote, “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” More than a century later, the saying still rings true — except today, it’s the virtual art of Photoshop, Facetune and filters that’s impacting real-life beauty ideals.
This relationship between online editing and offline “enhancements” has given way to a phenomenon informally known as “Instagram Face,” the ubiquitous blend of Insta-approved facial features you’ve no doubt spotted on your feed. It’s that uniformly wide-eyed, smooth-skinned, pouty-lipped look that Eve Peyser of the New York Times hilariously (and accurately) described as “a sexy baby meets Jessica Rabbit.” It’s the facial feature equivalent of uptalking, the artificial, filtered look that makes it hard to tell if you just scrolled past a selfie of Emily Ratajkowski or Bella Hadid. It’s the aesthetic that prompts you to ponder lip injections… but, like, super subtle lip injections?
The thing about Instagram Face, though, is that almost no one is born with it — not even the influencers that influence it. “These celebrities most likely have enhanced their appearance, whether it be with permanent procedures, semi-permanent procedures or something temporary,” Courtney Casgraux, the founder of Los Angeles’ GBY Beauty, tells Fashionista, noting that her clients regularly present her with images of those they wish to “emulate” through aesthetic treatments — usually Hadid, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.
Many of the photos that Casgraux’s clients reference also appear to be digitally altered with Facetune (or something similar), an app that allows users to edit images in ways large and small. Even celebrities who’ve (maybe, probably, allegedly) physically altered their appearance with surgery or injectables use it, lifting their brows, carving out new jawlines or smoothing out less-than-perfect skin before posting. Not that this is new. Every other day seems to bring a new Photoshop “scandal,” and there are plenty of Instagram accounts dedicated to documenting stars’ minor manipulations, like @celebface, in which Hadid and Jenner are main feed fixtures.