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Face it, we’re overwhelmed by digital beauty

Kim Kardashian and Naomi Campbell: putting in face time. Charley Gallay/Getty

When you go on social media these days, you’re met with an endless scroll of gorgeous faces, says Felicity Martin in The Face. Thanks to apps like FaceTune, Snapchat and TikTok, it’s easier than ever to retouch our selfies with digital “face tweaks” that give you slim noses and pouty lips. When this kind of manipulation just took place in magazines, or in the photos of influencers, it was one thing – but now that everyone’s at it, we’re wrongly led to think our own looks fall short even by normal standards. We simply “weren’t meant to see this many beautiful faces”.

Digital editing also means beauty is becoming more homogenised. Type “the most beautiful face in the world” into the AI image generator DALL-E, and a uniform group of white brunettes with razor-sharp jawlines stare back at you. In 2019, The New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino described the typical “Instagram face”: young, “with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. It looks at you coyly but blankly.” But beauty standards are always shifting. Now the Kardashians have been “spotted sporting smaller-sized bums”, perhaps the world will follow.