The Santa Clara
November 1, 2018
Posting a photo on Instagram can be an intimidating process. I find it so intimidating that I do not care to partake in it anymore. The pressure to look good is too great and there is a certain level of vulnerability that comes with posting a photo you know hundreds of people will judge and critique. But that begs the question: Why do I care so much? Why does everyone else care so much too?
Maybe the answer to those questions lies in Facetune. Facetune is an app that allows individuals to digitally manipulate and enhance their photos. At a cost of $3.99, it is essentially a cheap version of Photoshop for your phone.
According to the Facetune description, it is also the “#1 Photo and Video App in 127 countries,” including the U.S.
Facetune says, “every photo could use a touch-up.” So it offers services that claim to create “perfect smiles,” “beautiful skin” and “penetrating eyes.” It also has the ability to “reshape facial structure,” apply “vivid makeup,” enhance a person’s hair color and fill in bald patches.
In a hypercompetitive atmosphere where everyone is trying to look their best, Facetune provides much needed relief for those looking to achieve a flawless selfie.
But Facetune also contributes to the distortion of reality. It has gotten to a point where it is hard to discern what is real, what is enhanced and what is fake. For those of us who are unable to distinguish the difference, this can have detrimental effects on our self-esteem which, in turn can lead to depression and eating disorders.
A study published by the Routledge Taylor and Francis Group analyzed 144 teenage girls, ranging from ages 14 to 18 and found that the test subjects who had been exposed to digitally manipulated photos had lower self-esteem. This same study also found that the test subjects had a hard time distinguishing original photos from ones where the face and/or body had been reshaped.
Most people are generally aware that media corporations use Photoshop to enhance their photos, even though most do not openly broadcast this fact. Now, however, we have to worry about comparing ourselves to photos that neighbors, friends and roommates have discreetly manipulated.
Given the pressure to maintain a perfect online persona is arguably more intense now than it has ever been, it is no surprise that individuals and celebrities feel the need to use these apps on a daily basis. The stakes are high. Instagram has morphed into so much more than a social media platform where people can keep their friends up-to-date.
For many celebrities, models and other media personalities, Instagram has become an integral part of their business where they can make money and promote social causes. Many of us then see these perfectly curated feeds and feel the need to mimic them.
The problem, however, lies not with the people who use these apps or Facetune itself. Instead, the problem revolves around society’s flawed social construct of beauty that causes many of us to feel like we are not good enough.
Celia Martinez a political science and communication double major.