A prose poem in response to the recent worrying trend amongst social media apps such as Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat that use filters which whitewash and westernise global majority faces.
“This is something I feel passionately about and although it may seem innocent, it distorts how non-white people see themselves and in turn causes psychological damage to the way we see ourselves. It also reflects upon how AI is changing the way we see ourselves with facial mapping to meet their Eurocentric standards of beauty.”
My face shapeshifted into something I don’t recognise. A reflection only offering lies. Lighter, brighter and whiter with each flick through I felt my chest become tighter. Bluer than Irish eyes and greener than emerald stone. The more I look at her the more I feel alone. This shapeshifter isn’t global but is becoming the majority. Sorry that my eyes are darker than autumn leaves forestry. Smoother, thinner and soulless. No features no boldness. Sure everyone wants perfect skin. Yet I sink deeper into feeling unhappy within.
I look in the mirror and I’m completely depersonalised. Watching the AI as it analyses, hypothesises and alters me, into what society expects me to be. Plucking away at each morsel and pixel of my digital ego. I shape myself into what the AI wants of me. I can’t help but feel… is this really me though?
A carbon copy of AI perfection. I sink into social media and lose all introspection. Why can’t I look like Beyonce? Why can’t I have that flawless complexion. I slowly unwind and unravel the trickery of technology. When people blackfish you best believe we all demand an apology. They’ve gone on long enough trying to whitewash us and it’s about time we all cash in on this unfair economy.
You’ve filtered me into what you see as superior. I’m here to tell you that all shades of beauty aren’t inferior. Forgive me when I speak less meekly on matters that alter me to your standard. All of my features that you’ve completely slandered. My hazelnut eyes, round and wide nose, and plump lips, shaped into what society deems as fit.
A door into my subconscious reveals all that’s been changed. And it pains. Oh it pains me to see. How much better people think these masks make us seem. It’s nothing but a fantasy, only attainable in a dream. I wash my hands of being westernised by these false deceptions. I take a selfie without her. In a world saturated with falseness and fallacies I’m finally free. Embracing myself against her corrections. No more digital surgery to achieve these apparent perfections. I take a deep dive into the mirror. My pores thirst for moisture, my eyebrows eagerly await plucking and my bags are heavier than a trip to Tesco. I finish dissecting away, I won the battle against reflection, today.
Today I rise. Against these looks I can’t help but despise. Here I tell no lies. It doesn’t matter what shape you are. Just know that you are destined to go far. Sure we may not look like a superstar. But that doesn’t matter when it’s unattainable. We need a sustainable practise of truth. You don’t need to change yourself, darling baby you are still nothing but a youth. The tyrant of the media only ever becomes more so seedier. It’s easy to get obsessive about the way we look. Just remember when you open that app you don’t need to follow the book. Online affirmation is a temporary solution, against this Eurocentric institution.
Look inward. Seek out self-compassion. It’s much more trendy to have self-love then it is to follow fashion. You will start to bloom and blossom. Grow bigger and shine brighter than the sun that synthesised your natural glow. Slice of the thorns you’ve sprouted for security to attain calm and purity. Flourish and nurture your nature. Become your authentic self. Don’t reach for that book on looks, it’s better left on the shelf.
Written by Chimwemwe Chirwa (Chim-wem-whey, Cher-wa) (She/Her)
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