Plastic Surgery Trends Have Led to a Single “Instagram Face”

For a price, anyone can have the face that's dominating Instagram

instagram face
Bella Hadid is the poster girl for Instagram Face.
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

All hot people look the same.

I’m not just being dismissive, and this wasn’t always true. Yes, seemingly compulsory beauty standards have plagued women for generations, but in the last decade, the rise of social media and increased accessibility of plastic surgery have streamlined those beauty standards and their adopters into one single, idealized face.

That surgically-enhanced face is what the New Yorker‘s Jia Tolentino calls “Instagram face.” The face, as Tolentino wrote, is young and poreless with high cheekbones, big eyes framed by long “cartoonish” lashes, and the kind of full lips perhaps most famously popularized by Kylie Jenner earlier this decade. In another word, the face is “cyborgian.”

It is the face of Bella Hadid, who earlier this year was controversially deemed the most beautiful woman in the world according to a particularly dubious kind of “science.” It is also the face of Kim Kardashian, most of her sisters, and many other attractive women with large Instagram followings.

According to Tolentino, the rise of social media platforms like Instagram combined with easily accessible photo-editing tools and filters and have made this face and the beauty standards it promotes inescapable. While photo editing and airbrushing have long been blamed for enforcing unrealistic beauty expectations, it is no longer the domain of professionals working on celebrity photoshoots in the pages of glossy magazines. Today, anyone can retouch their photos with a few swipes on an iPhone and broadcast an idealized image to the world.

For the rich and famous, this can be taken a step further. Along with the rise of social media, the past decade has also seen an increase in more accessible, less risky and less taboo plastic surgery. As certain beauty trends have become amplified on social media, those same trends are being replicated in people’s actual faces.

“I’d say that thirty per cent of people come in bringing a photo of Kim, or someone like Kim—there’s a handful of people, but she’s at the very top of the list,” famed Beverly Hills plastic surgeon to the stars Jason Diamond told Tolentino. While Diamond noted that regional preferences vary throughout the world, there are certain “constants” of symmetry and proportion, including high cheekbones and a projected chin.

“The world is so visual right now, and it’s only getting more visual, and people want to upgrade the way they relate to it,” celebrity makeup artist Colby Smith told Tolentino. But if the rise of a single, surgically altered face strikes you as being a little more jarring than a harmless upgrade in the name of self-improvement, you’re not alone.

“It’s obviously terrifying,” Smith added.

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