If there’s one thing we can credit Lionel Shriver with, it’s coining the phrase “we need to talk about” and facilitating the use of said term in relation to Facetune. (I actually have a lot of thoughts about Lionel Shriver, first and foremost being that I’m not sure she particularly likes women, in general – at least not in We Need to Talk About Kevin or The Post-Birthday World, but that is another blog post altogether.)
What is this ‘Facetune’ of which you speak?
Facetune is an app, available on iOS and Android, that allows you to – according to the iTunes description – “look your Hollywood best.”
As you can see, it takes everything that women’s magazines – and society at large – has taught us is “wrong” with our faces and erases it, resulting in a perfect, cyborg version of ourselves. It allows us to erase wrinkles and laughter lines, give ourselves the perfect HD brow, whiten (and straighten) teeth and enlarge eyes. It is creepy.
Perfect your selfie
But honestly? Facetune isn’t the only app out there that will allow you to edit your face – and body – beyond recognition. It’s the most widely downloaded and probably best recognised, but there are thousands of apps available to download if you want to be reminded of how far from “perfect” your selfies are.
Editing apps are DANGEROUS for anyone with self-image issues. Took me approx 11 seconds to drop 6 inches of ‘belly fat’. pic.twitter.com/zj1I96kq35
— Laura’s Views Ⓥ (@Lauras_Views) April 1, 2017
These photo editing apps are the perfect way for people with incredibly low self-esteem to present a “better” version of themselves to their waiting public. No one need know that you’re two stone “overweight”; that you have a terrible breakout; that your teeth are more ivory than pearly white.
But… What happens when you leave the house?
This is where things get hairy. If photo editing apps allow you – so easily – to see what you could look like, if only you were more “perfect”, how do you feel when you look in the mirror? When you’re reminded, every time you edit a photograph of yourself, just how far you are from perfection, how can you walk out your door?
That’s before we even get on to the sharing aspect of it – I know so many people who edit their selfies an insane amount. These are the same people who won’t ever appear on Snapchat without a “beauty” filter (or two). What I really want to know is: what happens when they bump into someone they know in the supermarket? Are they absolutely mortified at the idea that their friend is looking at them thinking, she looks very different to the pic she posted on Instagram this morning!?
A whole ‘nother kettle of influencers
As for influencers, this is where – for me – things reach another level of dangerous. Sure, I don’t think it’s ideal that people are made feel terrible about themselves by shitty apps that point out just how freckly / lined / pale their skin is (all fine, by the way, nothing “wrong” with any of this). But I think it’s even less ideal when grown adults with big online followings use photo editing apps to make them look nothing like they do in reality.
Especially when the “reality” is lovely – I have never seen anybody do this who is genuinely horrifingly overweight (although no one is horrifyingly overweight so that’s moot), or hugely unfortunate looking. I have seen really pretty women Facetune themselves into a barely recognisable Bratz doll of themselves and post their cyborg twin on Instagram with captions like “natural look today”. Like… WHAT?!
What message is this sending your followers? Here you are with a big online fanbase, drawers full of makeup – the likes of which most of us dream of owning – and a really beautiful face, not to mention figure, chopping two stone off and making yourself look like a Victoria’s Secret model in ever picture you allow to go public?
I don’t know who I feel sorrier for: the person doing the editing, who every day has to look in the mirror at a face they clearly hate; or the the people seeing the pictures, and getting yet more reinforcement of the notion that perfection is attainable, and that this perfect, symmetrical, sparkly-toothed, narrow-cheeked face, is it.