AMANDA Holden, Beyonce, Lindsay Lohan and now Molly-Mae Hague – the list of celebs who've been rumbled tampering and enhancing their pics on social media is endless.
But it has to stop – because as harmless as a Love Island star’s tiny dinosaur hand may seem, these images are having catastrophic effects on the mental health of young people.
A post shared byMOLLY-MAE (@mollymaehague) on
FaceTune – the app that allows Photoshop-style editing of smartphone photos – makes it possible for users to remove blemishes, airbrush skin, whiten teeth, brighten eyes and alter body shapes for £5.99-a- month.
It was the most popular paid for app of 2017 and by the summer of 2018 had been downloaded 50 million times.
Khloe Kardashian hailed it as “life changing” and YouTuber James Charles has made numerous tutorials for his 16 million subscribers on how to best use the app.
But not everyone is as enamoured, with Chrissy Tiegen tweeting “I don’t even know what real skin looks like anymore” and Jameela Jamil saying: “FaceTune you are the devil and I wish you didn’t exist."
I grew up with these images and they're so harmful
And she's right. From Kim Kardashian to kids in the classroom, everyone is altering their online image – and it's no coincidence that 57 per cent of 18-24 year olds admit to having felt anxious because of their body image.
Having grown up on a diet of Photoshopped images and unrealistic ads in magazines and on TV, I developed an incredibly unhealthy relationship with my own body.
It was one that was built on hate and loathing as I compared myself to the beautiful (and, I realise now, totally not real) women all around me.
I covered my bedroom in photos from magazine adverts and would often cry myself to sleep wishing that I looked more like the models in the pictures, and less like I actually did – fat, spotty and with dry hair, at least that’s what I thought anyway.
Who wouldn't want to upload supermodel version of themselves?
FaceTune is dangerously easy to use – even a beginner like me was able to make myself look unrecognisably fabulous in a few short minutes.
And so it’s easy to see why people get sucked into it.
I was able to totally transform my face, the shape of my head, make my teeth whiter, eyes brighter and complexion perfect when I tried it this week.
There’s no denying that I look better in the edited photos. I’d go so far as to say I look healthier, slimmer and with pores that Estée Lauder herself would be proud of. And therein lies the problem.
Given the choice, who wouldn’t want to upload the supermodel version of themselves – the version in which teeth aren’t off-white and nose jobs take two seconds rather than months of savings and painful recovery?
And it’s not just “face” tuning that’s the problem. This app is used for the body too – although its founders say that was not its original purpose – and herein lies a bigger problem.
Editing away a multitude of sins
Had this existed when I was a teenager I suspect I would be in a very dangerous place with it, editing every inch of myself before uploading any pictures.
FaceTune removes all multitude of sins, shrinking me down as if I’d never so much as thought of a pizza.
I’m grateful that it wasn’t, but I’m aware that there will be those out there now feeling like I did then, and for those people it is dangerous.
Driving mental health crisis
Jameela Jamil joked that cosmetic surgeons must be investing in these apps – and she has a point.
“Snapchat Dysmorphia” has been linked to a rise in cosmetic surgery requests and a US medical journal suggested that filtered images that are “blurring the lines of reality and fantasy” could be triggering body the mental health condition where people become fixated on imagined defects.
But of course it’s not just FaceTune that edits our faces to unrealistic standards.
The inbuilt filters that come with both Instagram and Snapchat are problematic too. Not only do they add bunny ears to our faces, they smooth skin, plump lips and lift jowls whilst they’re at it.
In its most recent update, Instagram introduced dozens of new filters, one of which, was called Fix Me.
The filter automatically added the suggestions that a plastic surgeon might make to your face, should you be heading to the operating table. It was deleted last week after being accused of fuelling a mental health crisis in young women.
Others, still available, give users free 'lip filler' and 'facelifts'.
Most of us are riddled with insecurities
We’re quick to bash the celebrities for using it, as fans have done with Molly-Mae, but it’s not their fault.
If I learned anything from hating myself, it’s that most of us are riddled with insecurities so it’s little wonder that people turn to the self-improvement app.
Let’s face it, if Molly hadn’t edited the pictures, she’d have no doubt received abusive comments about something else.
It begs the question: why would you go into battle without any protection on when for just five quid a month you can have the shiniest and most flattering body armour available?
As much as celebs are the problem, they are also the victims – but that doesn’t make any of it okay because in using the app, they are making young women feel like they need to be using it too.
By turning us into beautiful caricatures of ourselves, they’re making it harder and harder to be OK with the reality that we face when we put our phones down.
Greater transparency needed
Short of banning the app – an unlikely solution since others will just pop up in it’s place – I think social media users would benefit from more transparency.
Whether the app puts a watermark across the picture to show that edits have been made or users are made to say if they have used the app, this would help young people to differentiate between what is real and what is not.
Instagrammers must now declare if they are being paid to promote a product and I think it’s time similar declarations were required from users editing their images.
When I was at my most insecure I compared myself to everyone around me.
Not once though did I ever compare myself to Scooby Do. As a cartoon dog, I knew he wasn’t real.
By not allowing celebs to get away with editing their pics on the sly, the hope would be that kids would stop comparing themselves to something just as unrealistic, but so much more damaging, than the dog.
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