Madonna may be the mistress of self-reinvention, but it seems the 63-year-old is taking her latest attempt too far.
The singer sparked derision from fans this week when she shared a series of flawless images in which she appeared decades younger, with nary a wrinkle, blemish or hint of jowl to be seen.
Yet she is far from alone. With so many filters now available to help you tweak your selfies, whether they’re inbuilt Instagram ones such as ‘baby face’ or apps like FaceApp and FaceTune, anyone can shave off years, apply instant make-up and even remodel their bone structure, so few people have to see what they really look like.
But while many of us admit to a spot of light filtering, can you really hope to pass off a picture of yourself looking 16 when you’re in your 60s? Here, four writers share their filter faces . . .
Filter factor: Madonna – aged 63 – in the snap (left) she posted this week. The singer sparked derision from fans when she shared a series of flawless images in which she appeared decades younger, with nary a wrinkle, blemish or hint of jowl to be seen. Right, her usual appearance (pictured in 2021)
IT’S MAGIC BUT IT’S NOT ME
ANNE DIAMOND, 67
My first reaction to my filtered face was: ‘Wow!’ At my age, it’s always a relief to see photos of yourself that are basically flattering — but to suddenly see the lines, stretchy neck and eyebags disappear was like waving a magic wand.
All the flaws you learn to dread when you look in the mirror were non-existent, and I glowed with a youthful radiance I didn’t think I’d ever see again.
But then I realised it wasn’t me. In fact, while the basic contours were mine, all the features that give a face character and personality had been wiped away. I felt a bit like a celebrity who had just seen her waxwork at Madame Tussauds — intrigued, amused, but ultimately disappointed.
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It’s one thing to play with your pictures on Photoshop, erasing the odd crow’s foot, spot or wrinkle. But I can’t understand why anyone would want to plasticise their face in a way that makes them almost unrecognisable.
Yes, your years show in your face and so often betray your age in a way that can feel cruel at times. But unless you have suffered in a way that has wrecked your life and your demeanour, a face that shows experience and character is surely a blessing, not a curse.
In my view, the filtered picture of Madonna is nothing like her. It shows none of the brazen, glamorous, petulant talent for which she became world-famous, reducing her to a strangely buck-toothed, pouting cartoon image. That picture could be almost anybody, but certainly not the outrageous, ground-breaking Madonna we love.
Unless, perhaps, she has done it deliberately to provoke our outrage. That must be it. It is so bad, she is making a statement against this horrible trend of young people perverting the truth by only posting tweaked pictures of themselves on social media, conforming to a nonsensical rule that we must all look like perfect robots.
I hope that’s true — and that Madonna hasn’t been sucked into a distorted madness that can only disappoint.
That’s not to say, if it ever gets bad enough, that I wouldn’t succumb to the knife of a real-life plastic surgeon, just to smooth out the turkey neck and perhaps smooth the saggy jawline. But at least I would still look in my photos how I look in real life!
I LOOK SO CUTE!
AMANDA PLATELL, 64
This may be a total betrayal of early 60s women everywhere, but I think Madonna looks fabulous! No crow’s feet, no wisdom lines, no sunken cheeks and a firm jawline.
And you can still recognise her, even looking 20 years younger. Let’s face it, ladies, who wouldn’t like to shave off a few years? Having seen the wonders of Madonna’s filtered face, I had high hopes my own could be my new profile picture on the dating app Bumble.
Alas, if I did, my date wouldn’t even recognise me as I walked into the restaurant, and would rightly feel duped.
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With filters, I not only look cuter than I do now, but cuter than I ever did. A bit too cute. On a good day, even friends would only ever describe me as handsome.
Now I have a perfect smile, line-free, pert face and bright, mischievous eyes that age has not wearied. For me it’s weird looking at such a doctored image of myself.
We only ever see Madonna the superstar through a carefully orchestrated filter, so in a way those images of her are true to form. But for us ordinary folk? I’m not convinced.
Even before these photos, it was clear that Madonna has had some very good work done on her face, which personally I have no problems with, having myself had fillers, baby Botox, IPL laser treatment and chemical skin peels over the years, though so far I’ve resisted the temptation to have a facelift.
If only more women were honest about the fillers and Botox they sneak off to have done.
To me, these pictures of Madonna have attitude, even humour. It’s as if she’s cocking a snook at us all, saying: ‘What? Do you want me to drop dead because I’m past 60?’
And for that I salute her.
I can only see a problem with filters if they are being used by impressionable young girls obsessed with Photoshopping their selfies, who then start pumping their lips and breasts full of silicone, wrecking their looks and self-esteem.
TOO SILLY TO SHARE
LYNNE FRANKS, 73
I was sad to see the photos of Madonna. Why would an incredible icon, who has achieved so much, be so shockingly insecure about the way she looks?
Of course, we can all edit our photos now. Just look at this frankly hysterical picture of me, in which I look the same age as my 18-year-old granddaughter. I love it, but I would never share it, because no one would believe anything so silly and it is simply not who I am. So why bother?
I understand the temptation. I still like to look good, especially seeing my reflection on social media so much. But I know self-confidence doesn’t come from an app or a needle.
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When I was in my 50s, living in Los Angeles, I tried out the newly discovered ‘cure-all’ Botox. The results were somewhat disastrous, but I kept going even when it went wrong, so determined was I to get rid of my lines. Although I have nothing against anyone having a few tweaks done if it makes them feel good, in my 60s I finally began to realise that I looked best when I was happy, healthy and enjoying my life, running my SEED Hub and cafe, teaching other women how to be empowered, too.
As we move towards International Women’s Day next month, I’ll be celebrating the achievements of women like Madonna.
So why, I ask myself, would this brilliant performer and innovator feel the need to look like a bad Barbie doll?
I understand that celebrities are under terrible pressure, so I have nothing against women who want to look good in society’s eyes. But there are limits and Madonna, poor love, has stepped over the edge of reality, when she could be an inspiration to girls and women of all ages by just being herself.
I love Madonna. I love her songs, her guts, her general chutzpah. But surely she can’t believe she is setting a good example to her daughters, or anyone else’s daughters, by trying to look like them.
Come on, Madonna! Surround yourself with friends of the same age who can remind you how beautiful you are without all the filters.
PROUD OF MY LINES
JANE GREEN, 53
When I clicked on the filter, my eyes widened in delight as a perfect face that resembled mine — if I’d spent a fortune on plastic surgery — looked back at me.
I not only looked years younger, but I appeared to have had a nose job, a brow lift, a thread lift giving me almond-shaped eyes, lip fillers that gave me an enormous pout and skin as smooth as silk. And my hair, now grey, had become a youthful bronde. I loved it.
I preened and pouted at my iPhone, wondering if there was a chance in hell I could look even a tiny bit like this in real life. It is my face, after all, and surely no filter could change it that much?
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With clever make-up and good lighting, could I shave off a few years? I’ve watched those contouring videos . . . and I could always overline my lips.
I spent at least 20 minutes doing my make-up, then I took a selfie. The disappointment!
I realised my 53-year-old face still looked 53, no matter how much concealer I used.
My nose is not only still a stonker, but there are — oh, the horror! — visible pores on it. I have wrinkles, and look the sort of tired you get when you are in mid-menopause and a full night’s sleep is a thing of the past.
Many of the middle-aged women I know spend much time and money trying to look younger. They exercise for hours a day, and Botox, fillers and laser treatments are de rigueur. We all use filters to remove the shadows under our eyes when we post pictures online.
But while I loved looking at my filter face, I’m not sure I’d truly want to look like that in real life.
I’m a big supporter of doing small things to make you feel better, but at a certain point it becomes dysmorphic. Madonna doesn’t just look decades younger, she looks entirely different.
Ironically, given what a trendsetter she was, the filter makes her look exactly the same as many of the young Instagram influencers, each having the same plastic surgery and thread lifts, all now looking identical.
Society has never supported older women. The older we get, the more invisible we become. I understand Madonna using filters in an effort to appear younger and relevant.
But I’m proud of my lines and grey hair. I earned them — and I’d rather look ‘good for my age’ than decades younger, and live an authentic life.