Some apps are addictively tempting. My friend is a size 14, very curvy and looks amazing. However, in every Instagram post she has an extremely skinny waist, a massive bum and a perfectly smooth face — no spots, freckles or wrinkles in sight.
If people want to filter themselves is this really a bad thing? It is according to many therapists and users of social media apps that say it badly affects their mental health. Influencers can also use them to advertise products that ‘work’ but the results can be faked through nifty app technology.
Emily Atack, The Inbetweeners actress, admitted on Loose Women to using these apps. Saying:
‘I’m deleting all my editing apps. You know you can edit your pictures until you’re blue in the face.
‘I used to slim them down and airbrush. It was so bad to the point you slim it down but you get rumbled as the wall is bent.
‘I’m not doing that anymore’.
Emily’s revelation highlights how many users of apps use them to airbrush-out their insecurities. Therapist Sally Baker, who works at Working On The Body, has explained the effects of the app even further:
‘An unhealthy introspection is when a person focuses excessively on themselves. This inner gaze encourages people to concentrate on their superficial physical body and their looks. Comparing real life to fantasy is a hiding to nowhere and can only ever cause unhappiness, even depression. No one’s reality is ever going to live up to this enhanced version’.
Lightricks, the parent company of many filter apps including FaceTune, arguably capitalise and reap the benefits of their users’ insecurities and mental health issues.
FaceTune is an app that allows you to airbrush any photo. Once upon a time this was only possible if you were a print photographer. However, Lightricks gets away with charging their customers between £3 and £4.99. The first version of FaceTune sold over 10 million copies. FaceTune 2 is free to download but has a £5 charge to unlock all of its features. The result is that 500,000 users currently pay the company an average of £30 a year for the added bonuses.
What could be considered even more outrageous is that there are no age restrictions on the use of these apps. The outcry of parents condemning Instagram and Facebook for their influence on their children made headline news, so where is the uproar for FaceTune? The app promotes changing yourself, and in the plastic surgery culture we live in today this could have a monumental impact on children. As long as you have a credit card the app is open to everyone, regardless of age. This exploitation of insecurities became evidently clear when I contacted Lightricks about their apps.
The company seemed enthusiastic to speak to me when I said that I wanted to talk to them about an article I was writing. They responded via email saying:
‘Thanks for reaching out. Can you tell us more about the article you’re writing and where it will be featured? Looking forward to hearing from you’.
When I told them it was about the potentially negative impact of their apps on users and recipients I received the response that, ‘we’re unavailable to comment at this time’.
If the company were innocent they would have no issue with discussing the matter. But the truth is that they know the potential measure of damage their app can cause. Anyone can augment their image. Anyone can manipulate their followers. My friend poses in front of a white background, making it easy to disguise any alterations she implements on her figure and face. And though the results can be highly satisfying, these altered images are not good for one’s mental health or the mental health of viewers who may fail to see that what they’re being subjected to is an illusion — a lie.
Digital privacy expert at BestVPN.com, Jo O’Reilly, has said:
‘While these apps give everyday users an unprecedented level of image control they can also have a negative impact on your mental health. Apps that encourage you to scrutinise you face or body for flaws, before digitally correcting them, can have a corrosive impact on self-confidence — particularly for younger users’.
The anger and frustration towards airbrushing in magazines and in newspapers needs to be equally directed at the use of these easily accessible apps. But are there any possible alternatives? Speaking to Elle, Jameela Jamil, actress and social influencer said there is only one:
‘Ban FaceTune. F**k FaceTune. So angry with FaceTune. I honestly wonder if cosmetic surgeons invest in it or something, because naturally, if you constantly see your nose tiny, you’re going to want to go out and match what you see in the app. Either way I don’t think it’s healthy’.
So, social influencers, digital experts and therapists all agree that apps like FaceTune are exploitative and promote unhealthy body image. The fact that you have to pay for the privilege of berating and criticising your own body is, frankly, outrageous. More social influencers, like Jameela Jamil, need to highlight the corrosive nature these apps are having on body positivity.
We should not let Lightricks reap financial rewards from our insecurities.