The Filter App — a short story for English reading and speaking

Introduction

What are filter apps?

Are filter apps popular in your country?

Have you used a filter app before?

Are they harmful in any way? Or just harmless fun?

The Filter App

Laura’s hand hovered over the app’s icon.

The Filter App had a very gripping reputation.

She had seen videos of women who had used it, how it had transformed their lives, changed them forever. These videos showed women who looked just perfect.

Every single feature about them was just…

“Too beautiful”. Laura mouthed the words out loud.

She fought internally, struggled with the unfairness of it all. And despite all the negative things that were said about The Filter App, Laura just wanted to try.

She wanted other people to gaze at her admiringly. She wanted to look at herself in the mirror and not feel any sense of inherent shame about herself.

She took in a deep breath and clicked.

The app appeared on the screen, shimmering with a translucent wheel to show that it was downloading to her phone.

She could just try it. She convinced herself that was all she was doing. She was trying it out.

And if it didn’t work out… she could delete the app.

No harm in that.

She was alone in the house. Her mother had left to go to work, but popped her head into Laura’s bedroom to see if she was doing anything today.

Laura had not worked for the last six months. Since losing her last job, she just seemed to lie in bed, scrolling and scrolling and scrolling…

A small ping from her phone and she saw the app on her screen. Solid and bold.

Laura took another breath and clicked the icon.

It surged into life, a fleeting parade of beautiful women cascading across in front of her.

Then an image of herself, staring back at her. The app had clearly taken command of the phone’s camera.

Laura stared at the reflection of herself, her mouth half open, heavy-lidded eyes blankly staring into the app itself.

Messages appeared on the screen.

What would you like to change about yourself today?

Click the part of your face you would like to transform.

Laura’s first reaction was to think of her nose.

The one part of her entire body that she hated the most. She had other forms of contempt for her eyes, her eyebrows, her mouth, her legs.

But her nose… She despised it.

She clicked on the image on the screen, her finger tapping the part of her nose.

A series of alternative pictures appeared before her. Laura with a selection of different noses. Each one better than the last.

She barely had time to take it all in as each image changed as she became aware of what she was looking at.

Then, at last, a final picture of her with the most perfect nose. Long and streamlined, elegant and just… Just beautiful.

No ugly bump in the middle now.

Now she looked amazing.

The image of her face rotated this way and that, to give her a full 180-degree view of what the new app-generated nose would look like from all angles.

Laura let out a laugh of joy.

She could not believe how real it looked. It made her look completely different.

Without thinking, Laura raised her finger and thumb to her nose and touched it. To feel it.

It felt different.

The shape, the size of it. It didn’t feel the same as it usually felt.

Laura swiped the screen of her phone to pull up the camera app and clicked on it.

How was this possible?

The reflecting image showed her with the new nose.

Is this how the app worked? That it took total control of her phone like this?

She turned this way, and that, tilted her head up and down, but the new nose looked so real. It looked like it was her real nose.

It could not be…

Laura jumped to her feet and scrambled through the scattered things in her bedroom for a mirror. She did have one, but no idea where it could be.

The bathroom.

She ran out of her room and into the bathroom.

As she leaned closer to the mirror, she gasped in shock.

The new nose. It was there.

Right in the middle of her face.

She staggered back in shock, her back hitting the door of the bathroom.

Laura stared into the mirror, trying to take in the reflection before her.

How was this possible?

She tried to figure out what the power of the app could be. Was it possible to change the way she saw herself?

She stepped slowly back to the mirror and leaned close to it.

It was real. The new nose was real.

She touched it with her fingers, pushing it, moving it.

It was as real as any other part of her.

As the realisation dawned upon her, her mind became filled with joy.

This was unbelievable.

Not just a new nose to replace her old ugly nose.

But the most perfect nose she could have wished for.

She gasped for air, then let out a laugh of sheer happiness.

Her eyes filled with tears.

Just one simple act, the pushing of an invisible button, and now this.

This would change her life.

She gazed at the reflection of herself, tilting her head up and down, moving this way and that, to see her new beautiful nose from every possible angle.

She loved it.

But something else trickled into her thoughts…

Her eyes. Why were they like that? Just shapeless and nondescript.

Why couldn’t she have those perfect almond-shaped eyes that girls on all the social media apps had?

And her eyebrows… Just a mushy, thick line on her forehead. She wanted those elegant arched lines she had seen a thousand times before.

And the less said about her mouth, the better.

Or her legs.

But the app…

The Filter App.

Maybe that could change everything.

It could give her every possible feature she had ever wanted.

It could transform her into a vision of perfection she has always desired.

Laura rushed back to the bedroom.

Back to her phone.

And The Filter App.

Reading Comprehension Questions

Who is the main character in the story?

Where do you think the story takes place?

What is the name of the app in the story, and what reputation does it have?

Why does Laura want to try The Filter App despite hearing negative things about it?

Where is Laura when she decides to try the app, and why is she alone?

What part of Laura’s body does she choose to change first using The Filter App?

Describe the series of alternative pictures that appear on the app when Laura selects her nose.

How does Laura react when she sees the final picture of herself with the transformed nose?

What action does Laura take immediately after seeing the transformed image on the app?

How does Laura confirm that the change made by the app is real and not just a visual trick?

What is Laura’s initial emotional response when she sees her new nose in the bathroom mirror?

How does the realisation of the app’s power affect Laura’s mood?

What physical action does Laura perform to confirm the reality of her new nose?

What other features of her face does Laura start to consider changing after being satisfied with her new nose?

How does the story describe Laura’s reaction to the possibility of changing multiple features using The Filter App?

What emotions does Laura experience as she gazes at her reflection with the new nose?

What thoughts enter Laura’s mind as she admires her new nose but considers changing other features?

Why does Laura rush back to her bedroom after looking at herself in the bathroom mirror?

What are the features of herself that Laura wishes to change using The Filter App?

What potential impact does Laura believe The Filter App could have on her life?

Essential Vocabulary

Hovered

Gasped

Cascading

Gripping

Realization

Shimmering

Transformed

Reflection

Inherent

Admiringly

Sheer

Trickled

Contempt

Dawned

Arched

Despised

Mushy

Vision

Elegant

Scrambled

 

 

Exercise

Write down all the words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look in your dictionary and find the meaning of each word. Write the definition next to each word.

Then make up your own sentences using each word or phrase.

For example:

 

HoveredPast tense of; To linger or stay near a place or object, especially in a hesitant or uncertain manner.

 

GaspedPast tense of; To inhale suddenly with a convulsive catching of the breath, as in shock, surprise, or pain.

 

Then write a sentence of your own that uses the new word or phrase correctly.

 

The shy child hovered near the entrance of the playground, uncertain whether to join the other kids in their games.

 

As the magician made the card disappear and reappear, the audience gasped in disbelief.

 

Do this with all the vocabulary and, over time, this will help improve all your English skills — reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Discussion Questions

What is your initial reaction to Laura’s decision to use The Filter App? Do you think it’s a common desire for people to want to change their appearance?

How would you describe Laura’s emotional state before and after using the app? What do you think drove her to make that choice?

Discuss the role of societal pressure and beauty standards in Laura’s decision to use The Filter App. How do these factors affect people in real life?

Analyse the impact of technology on self-perception in the story. Do you think apps like The Filter App can have a positive or negative influence on how people see themselves?

Laura expresses dissatisfaction with various parts of her body. Can you relate to any of these feelings? How do societal expectations contribute to such insecurities?

Explore the concept of perfection as presented in the story. How do you define perfection, and do you think it’s attainable or subjective?

Laura’s joy turns to shock when she realizes the changes made by the app are physically real. What ethical concerns can arise from using technology to alter one’s appearance?

Discuss the potential consequences of using The Filter App in the long run. How might it affect someone’s self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being?

Consider the significance of the title, “The Filter App.” What does it imply about the app’s purpose, and how does it relate to societal expectations regarding beauty?

Laura’s desire for a perfect nose is fulfilled, but she immediately shifts her focus to other features. What does this reveal about the nature of societal beauty standards and the pursuit of perfection?

Explore the theme of self-acceptance in the story. Do you think it’s important for individuals to embrace their natural appearance, or is it okay to seek changes via technology?

The story raises questions about the consequences of quick fixes for self-esteem issues. What are some healthier alternatives for building self-confidence and body positivity?

How does Laura’s perception of herself change after using The Filter App? Discuss the psychological impact of altered self-image and the potential dangers of seeking external validation.

Consider the parallels between the story and real-life situations where people use filters and editing tools on social media. How does this impact our perception of reality?

Laura experiences a mix of emotions, including joy and shock. How do you think you would feel if you were in her situation? Discuss the emotional roller-coaster of altering one’s appearance.

Discuss the role of peer pressure and societal expectations in shaping individuals’ views on beauty. How can we encourage a more inclusive and diverse definition of beauty?

Explore the idea of self-discovery in the story. How does Laura’s experience with The Filter App contribute to her understanding of herself, both physically and emotionally?

Consider the potential addiction to altering one’s appearance through technology. Do you think individuals might become dependent on such apps? Why or why not?

Discuss the impact of the app on Laura’s sense of identity. How might altering physical features influence one’s sense of self and authenticity?

Reflect on the broader implications of The Filter App in society. How might the widespread use of such technology impact beauty standards and individuals’ perceptions of reality?

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