By Heather Schwedel
Bold Glamour—the name sounds like a coinage for an eyeshadow palette or a particularly flashy font. In actuality, it’s a TikTok filter, and despite the generic name, it may mark a watershed moment in the war for digital representation of our faces. In the future, will March 2023 be a dividing line between two distinct eras in history, Before B.G. and After B.G.?
The best way to understand Bold Glamour is to try it. If you download the filter on TikTok, as more than 18 million people have since it was introduced a few weeks ago, the app will take in your face and reflect back at you a glammed-up reinterpretation with stronger eyebrows, chiseled cheekbones, plumper lips, and several other heightened features. It’s you, but a supermodel, fembot, Facetuned version of you... (The filter takes a heavier hand on faces it reads as female.)
A few observers have questioned all the fuss, asking what’s so different about this filter—after all, we’ve been tweaking videos and photos to make ourselves look better for decades. “From a technical perspective, there’s not a lot new in the TikTok filter,” said Hany Farid, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies digital forensics. (Farid was on TikTok’s content advisory council for two years, but recently stepped down.)
Hany Farid is a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information and EECS.