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Why Everyone Is Obsessed With the ‘Bold Glamour’ Filter

The TikTok filter went viral this week, further distorting our perceptions of reality.
The Bold Glamour filter is the top trending beauty filter on TikTok right now.
The "Bold Glamour" filter has gone viral on TikTok. (TikTok @liv_inla @vicaalvarez @y3maya_ @katherinemheigel @katiemarble @nicole0rta @liyadances @chiaraking)

“Bold Glamour” doesn’t look much different from any of the TikTok filters that have, for years, manipulated our faces and erased any hints of skin texture. The end result is some amalgamation of blurred-out, poreless skin; sculpted cheeks; contoured nose; defined brows; pillowy, nude lips and a neutral metallic eyeshadow.

Yet for some reason, Bold Glamour is all the internet can talk about this week. On Tuesday afternoon, there were 6.8 million videos posted using the filter, and the hashtag #boldglamourfilter had 60.8 million views. By Thursday morning, there were 9.3 million videos posted and the hashtag climbed to 109 million views. It’s the top trending beauty filter on TikTok right now.

Plenty of TikToks condemned the filter (“this beauty filter should be illegal,” and “how tf is this a filter” etc.), while others gave detailed tutorials on how to achieve “Bold Glamour” with makeup in the real world.

There are a number of popular filters – Gold Color Highlighter, Rosy Cheeks, Pretty Baby x Lashes, Tanned Cute, Lush Lashes and Blue Eyes (Alix Earle’s favourite) – but none have garnered this level of attention or virality. Why is Bold Glamour different?

Charlotte Palermino, co-founder of skin care line Dieux, an aesthetician and content creator, credited Bold Glamour’s hype to its realism.

“Now it’s gotten to a level of sophistication where you can’t get it to glitch,” said Palermino, who has a lot of experience in the space. Back when filters were still cartoonish (remember the sexy dog?), she worked at Hearst Digital as editorial director of Cosmopolitan’s Snapchat Discover and then moved to Snapchat. Parlermino was the app’s editorial director for over two years. “It went from cartoonish and not realistic to ‘this is what you look like when you’re microdosing plastic surgery.’”

The feline and unicorn filters of early Snapchat days devolved into “beauty” filters that continue to get more realistic in how they subtly or not-so-subtly enhance the skin and features of users. TikTokers are fascinated with Bold Glamour because it’s technologically advanced; it stays put and doesn’t distort when you move, a tell that a filter is being used in the first place (ask any influencer or celebrities that has gotten in trouble because of a filter faux pas). It can also somewhat distinguish between genders; when my editor, who is male, tried the filter, there was no eyeshadow, smokey eye or contoured cheeks. But what if you’re a male who does want the full makeup look?

I understand the appeal of filters, sometimes; they could be fun and entertaining or make someone feel more camera ready. But mainly, they distort reality. Everyone generally feels like crap when they realise they can’t look filtered without using a filter, unless they’ve undergone a number of cosmetic procedures or plastic surgery (or both). The filtering and photo editing is incredibly misleading, especially when it’s an influencer doling out makeup and skin care tips, and everyone looks the same. Today, it has become a novelty for an influencer to post without a filter or show skin texture.

Jennifer Sullivan, co-founder and co-host of Fat Mascara, a podcast, described Bold Glamour as a snapshot of a moment in time (2023). The filter captures the “homogenous look of it all” – and with nuance: it plumps up and sculpts and slims down the face, kind of like getting filler and buccal fat removal at the same time.

“It’s feeding us back what we’ve been telling the internet for the last five years what we think is beautiful,” Sullivan said. “If it wasn’t so dead-on in nailing the beauty standard of our time and showing it back to us, maybe it would be less nerve wracking.”

Sometimes, I go on Getty or BFA to get an “unfiltered” look of a celebrity or influencer and cross check this with someone’s Instagram post (I highly suggest doing this). But now, even paparazzi photos are said to be edited before going online. I have no idea what anyone looks like anymore.

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