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TikTok’s Latest Trending Beauty Filter, Teenage Look, Takes Users Back To Their Youth


Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Older TikTok users are getting a heavy dose of nostalgia with a new trending filter that claims to travel back in time to your teenager.

Teenage Look, which works primarily by smoothing out wrinkles, has quickly racked up 3.4 million views to date, often associated with the melody of The Verve Pipe’s 1996 alternative song “The Freshmen.” But while baby face and aging filters have already made the rounds on social media platforms for the sheer novelty of seeing themselves instantly travel back in time, many of the teen filters’ most beloved posts have a tone dark, as users say they get a flashback to some of their most formative years.

“If you’re young and you wonder why we old people are freaking out about this filter, it’s because 20, 30 years from now, in your head, you’ll still think you look like this,” says TikTok user mandertok in a video, with the filter turned on to make him look younger. “And then there will be some kind of filter that will make you realize that you look like this now,” he continues, showing the split screen with his real visibly older self.

While some TikTokers keep it light, showing real images of themselves as teenagers (hello, former scene kids with bad hair), others use the filter to talk about the lack of self-confidence they had in high school or the difficult experiences they faced, using before and after split screens to give life advice to their “younger ones”.

While many of the posts containing tears and shocked faces might seem performative for virality’s sake (it’s TikTok, after all), there’s something shocking about being able to see a face that hasn’t looked at you. in the mirror for some time. . Some users discussed how the filter brought up old emotions related to the traumas they experienced over those years, while others said it gave trans and non-binary people the ability to see a younger self that matches their gender identity.

“Okay, if you’re someone who’s changed the way you present yourself as an adult or transitioned in some way and you want to hang out, say hello to the 12-year-old who probably didn’t make it happen,” user worriersmusic said in a video.

However, filters have regularly been widely criticized for aggravating self-esteem issues, and an anti-aging filter in an anti-aging society, especially for women, seems poised to perpetuate this problem. A small 2019 study linked the use of a social media filter to greater acceptance of cosmetic surgery, while Harvard Business Review researchers found in 2021 that people with high self-confidence their appearance may actually be shaken up more by seeing “upgrades” in their face compared to those who already had insecurities. And while the “Teenage Look” filter isn’t always accurate to show you earlier, as many users have noted, it’s more natural looking than most of the weird or blurry beauty filters out there.

When applying the filter, some users have also commented that the signs of age appear more pronounced in the unfiltered image.

“Seriously, they make the ‘now’ worse to make it more dramatic, right? No?!” mandertok half-jokingly wrote in the caption of the video.

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