Image courtesy of Sasha Louise Pallari
Sasha Louise Pallari is a makeup artist and curve model who uses her platform to empower women to value who they are above what they look like. Sasha started the #Filterdrop campaign encouraging women to post a picture of themselves without any filters or editing, to produce a feed of realistic, untouched images.
A poll in 2015 found that the average woman between the age of 16 and 25 spent five hours a week taking selfies. (Childmind.org) . Filters are a popular way to alter photos and "simultaneously reflect and perpetuate beauty standards in the digital space: Snapchat has been accused of white-washing people of colour with filters that automatically lighten skin, thin noses and make eyes rounder, and other filters can add eye makeup and lip colouring and smooth skin to a Real Housewife-tautness (Wakeman, 2018)
We spoke to Sasha to find out more about her and the campaign.
1. Where does your passion to empower women to love themselves stem from?
I remember during my first makeup counter job feeling confused as to how I could love and hate a job so much at the same time. There was so much pressure to sell which overshadowed the aspects of the job I enjoyed the most. I loved meeting new people, especially those with little or no confidence, and being able to guide them into feeling better using products. When I ventured out into working for myself, I realised that although the instant hit of confidence makeup can give you is extremely powerful, nothing will reward you the way digging deeper and doing the real rooted work of self-worth will.
2. What inspired you to start the #Filterdrop hashtag and what does it mean to you personally?
In 2017 my work as a makeup artist took a huge turn when I realised my true passion was helping others to feel confident in who they are, something I was also learning to do myself, and soon became the direction of my focus. I started incorporating the messaging that 'who we are is worth so much more than what we look like' into my everyday work, with clients, online, in tutorials etc. So from that day on it never felt natural for me to use filters. Whether I’m tired, or I’ve just been for a run I don’t feel the need to hide that away from the internet nor apologise and so from not using filters myself, I realised just how much they are used, and depended on. The actual hashtag and suggestion for people to upload a filter-free selfie exploded into something I had never imagined but nothing means more to me than the number of people who have been brave and vulnerable in sharing their exposed faces on a platform which we simply don’t see enough of.
The campaign started when I noticed that a global beauty brand had reposted filtered content from an influencer advertising their products. I’ve since had a positive response from this brand who accepted that they need to take more responsibility going forward. I think if you put yourself onto a platform like Instagram, in whatever form, to ‘influence’, then you have a responsibility and you should own your responsibility. There’s no denying how much money can be made online, and so to promote a beauty product using a filtered image is not only false advertising but it’s also setting more unrealistic beauty standards this world can do without. The world of editing and filtering is actually vast and although some people may think it's obvious.. sometimes it’s almost impossible to tell.
3. You decided to post a selfie with the #Filterdrop hashtag, what happened next?
I created #Filterdrop to make a noise, to ask brands and influencers, to not only support the message [of not using filters] but to take accountability for the potential damage they can do by constantly using filters. I am also running this campaign to stop Instagram from allowing face-changing filters to be used and for influencers to mark their content accordingly, if they choose to use filters. Over the last six weeks, I have had hundreds of women join me on social media in a campaign to challenge the overuse of filters and how the dependence on them is causing prolific damage to our confidence. People have vulnerably shared a photo of their unfiltered and unedited face using the hashtag.
4. What is the main issue with filters and editing? Is there ever a place for them to exist?
I think fun filters or aesthetic filters in terms of artistic preference are absolutely fine, and encouraged in the sense of championing the positives on the internet. However, this campaign is to specifically address the damage of face morphing filters. In no less than 30 seconds I can apply a filter to see how my lips would look if they were injected with filler, and then book an appointment with the aesthetician who created it. There has to be some control on those filters even existing because the damage it could do to some is unimaginable on a platform like Instagram.
5. What role can the beauty industry play in encouraging women to love themselves as they are (without necessarily buying into their products)?
The beauty industry is worth £28.4 billion (British Beauty Council) so inevitably there is a force of financial gain for anybody working within it. However, I truly believe that if advertising was truthful there'd be such a higher response because if the product is really worth buying, why is there any need to falsely advertise?
6. What action would you like to see from social media platforms and influencers going forward?
Transparency. Whilst I understand that some may not have the confidence to post without filters because of the unrealistic beauty standards our society has pushed, continuing to do so without addressing the issue is a problem.
7. What would your advice be to young girls on Instagram?
Please know you’re enough. Exactly as you are, because whoever you wish to look like, wishes to look like someone else. The most important and the most true beauty can’t be seen, so do every bit of work each day to ensure you know exactly how beautiful you are in your heart. Looking beautiful is an opinion, feeling beautiful is a choice.
8. What other accounts can we follow to ensure we're seeing a diverse and wide range of faces & bodies on our feeds?
I speak about diversifying the feed a lot. Even following one body type or one idealised image can damage your own self-esteem beyond belief. Follow the people who are unapologetically themselves, people that educate you, and inspire you or just entertain you, but all in truth. Also, walk away from accounts that do nothing other than talk about image, once you’re aware of it you might realise how often it’s done. We were not put on this earth just to be looked at, we all have so much more to give in whichever form that may be. Some of my absolute favourite accounts to follow for various reasons are @calliethorpe @ashleygraham @iamjarijones @stephanieyeboah @rianne.meijer
9. Who inspires you?
Michelle Obama and Ashely Graham. They’re two women who I have admired for so many years because whilst not only choosing to unapologetically show up in the world, they’re also a constant inspiration for me to better who I am as a person. I will always value bettering who I am above how I look as I make my way through life, I truly believe that transpires to the beauty we see.
11. What's next for you?
In a world where social media dominates I used to believe I didn’t have the voice to make a change, but since running this campaign I now realise that perhaps passion has no boundaries and this world is also my oyster too. I want to continue spreading my message that not only who we are is more important than what we look like but also going on that journey alongside everyone means I’m doing it truthfully too. None of us were born without confidence, we’ve just had it gradually knocked over time and I want to be a part of rebuilding that for people. I’ve held my events across the UK championing this work with some wonderful guests but one day my dream would be to take that worldwide.
Check out Sasha's Instagram for more inspiration