By Juno Kelly

Eye bag filters are making looking gaunt and run-down a digital trend.

When you search “no sleep” or “tired” in the filters section of Instagram, hundreds of variants come up. Some are innocent: eye masks placed on foreheads, “Gucci bag” strewn under each eye, and moons and stars framing faces with additional freckles. Many, however, pay more realistic homage to their namesake, placing eerily realistic dark circles under users’ eyes, hollowing out eye sockets, and creating an overall washed-out effect.

The filters are being generously utilized by both civilians and influencers alike. One titled “no sleep,” which places eyebags over users’ eyes but creates an air-brushed effect while plumping the lips, has gained particular traction. Its creator Angela Dinglasan has also created filters in the form of a digital nose bleed, vampiric under-eye veins, and horns. “I personally don’t have any eye bags (thanks to genetics and lots of sleep) and I wanted to make a filter that would give me that ‘I stayed up all night, but I’m still hot’ kinda look,” she explains to Mission.

Paul Sedykh’s “no sleep” filter, however, drops any attempt at beauty enhancement, instead endowing users with a hollowed-out, immune-deficient look; he says he designed it because he and his friends “worked hard and slept little.” The filter merely reflects how they looked in real life. His take on why it’s popular? “People want to look tired because they see it in popular culture and think it’s cool.”

The new trend mirrors the “heroin chic” high fashion look developed in the ’90s by photographer Davide Sorrenti, whose work often depicted emaciated models appearing drawn-out on opioids. While it has been reported that they were in fact at times using such drugs (the ’90s fashion industry had a widely reported drug problem), dark eye makeup was often utilized to accentuate the look and glamorize the aesthetic.

Like the heroin chic movement, these “tired” filters represent the polar opposite of what the fashion and beauty industries, and Instagram filters themselves, usually promote: young, vital women with no imperfections in sight.

The look rapidly found its way to TikTok, where @sarathefreeelf filmed herself drawing on dark circles with lipstick in a video that garnered over 1 million likes.

Unsurprisingly, in an age of political correctness and woke culture, social media natives have taken to various social platforms to condemn the bizarre nature of the trend, claiming it’s insensitive and tone-deaf. @sarathefreeelf’s aforementioned video resulted in a barrage of comments including, “why do people do this is being tired the new pretty,” and “I will gladly donate mine to you, anemic, check.”

Whether or not the filter is a problematic idealization of tiredness and sickness, a humble brag based on the idea that an eye-bag selfie is less steeped in narcissism than a “hot” one, or merely a playful attempt to reflect the ubiquitous problem of a lack of sleep, is up for debate. It is, however, interesting to note that the filter has taken off amid a pandemic–one of the main symptoms of which is fatigue.

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