‘It isn’t offensive’: Creator of Instagram’s ‘chav’ face defends the filter

‘It reminded me of the girls on Geordie Shore’

Instagram filters are, overall, pretty harmless things. A bit of shimmer on your beach stories, a healthy glow to resurrect you the morning after a night out. They can even be fun, wedging in your big head next to Shrek or easily placing you onto the McLovin ID card.

It isn’t often that your purge through your pending Insta stories stops you in your tracks, but the chav filter on Instagram cropping up out of nowhere on your mate’s story might cause you to do just that. You pause the story, stare at it, wonder why anyone would use it, and why somebody would make it in the first place. From Catherine Tate’s “Am I bovvered?” Lauren, Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard’s “yeah but no but” to whacking the working class on the stage of The Jeremy Kyle Show to showcase their problems, making fun of Chav cultured seemed to be a trend that we very much left in the past. But even in 2020, the world is still tuned into demonising the working class.

The “chav” trope resurfaced on TikTok this year, showcasing people doing “Chav checks”, heavy make-up tutorials and compilations of the UK’s “chavviest” places.  “Hey yo, chav check” is the sound clip on TikTok, used to ridicule puffa jackets, leggings and sitting around town. These skits are intended to be funny, capturing the look of Britain’s working class and erm, laughing at them?

The Instagram filter, which is the newest example of chav ridicule making a comeback, is easy to find. Just search “chav” and it’s there. It consists of orange foundation, patchy concealer, huge black brows, wiggly eyelashes, and huge gold hoops. 

For those of us that know the term “chav” is an acronym for “council houses and violence”, it seems pretty self-explanatory that “chav checks” and Instagram filters really are just another way to take the piss out of the working class.

For Scarlett, who considers herself working class, the filter is unarguably negative: “Imagery often portrays people in council housing as being unattractive, having lower IQ and generally being repulsive. This classist attitude is rooted in mockery of the working-class families, and these filters act as a caricature to further reinforce this.

“I think as an emo kid at first I would have laughed, BUT as I’ve got older I’ve realised that mocking how someone dresses or how they speak is essentially a microaggression with really classist undertones. It’s a caricature with exaggerated features intended to ridicule, how can it not be offensive?”

But its Madrid-based creator, Ester Rojo Cebrecos, insists the filter “isn’t offensive in itself.”


Cebrecos told The Tab that the idea came from TikTok. “I made it because it reminded me of the girls on Geordie Shore, and I thought it would be nice to have that make-up and look. It has no negative connotation, that’s why I decided to make it,” Cebrecos says, defending the filter.: “In every country, there are always people who love that look or had it when they were younger”, they added. 

To the people who find the filter offensive, Cebrecos maintains that “the filter isn’t offensive in itself. It was made because I love the look, maybe others are not using it properly and some people could get offended. I was just trying to replicate that Geordie Shore look. 

“I wasn’t aware the word ‘chav’ had a negative meaning, I gave that name to the filter for the look.”

A second filter which is less widely used, named “CHAV LUV”, has also come under fire. The creator spoke to The Tab about the allegations that their filter is could be found offensive. 

Maxim Kuzlin, a photographer and the creator of AR Filters, was more understanding towards his filter being called offensive. He had also created the filter after seeing the TikTok trend “Chav Check” but added that he was also inspired by make-up from 2007 among girls in Russia.

“I like when people can use a filter to create something funny with it. But some people also push a negative narrative and create something hateful to hurt a group of people, which I find very upsetting.”

Maxim encouraged feedback and said he would consider adjusting the features if people were offended by them.

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