Facetune Set Us Back, How Can We Move Forward?
By: Halle Rossi
Growing up in the digital age, the world around us has been filled with advertisements of beautiful, carefully selected images with catchy slogans. In the past, this primarily consisted of TV commercials, magazines, and retail window displays. Today, advertisements are more prevalent than ever, and in the pockets of millions.
The age of false advertising
Smartphone addiction is no new phenomenon—it is the very diagnosis that popular marketing apps like Instagram rely on. The latest technology addiction, however, is facetuning.
- A recent study showed that 81% of people refuse to post a picture without touching it up.
It’s not uncommon to be on Instagram for more than five minutes without noticing that someone has digitally altered their face or body in an image. We as consumers have become completely familiar with false advertisements, but when did we start false advertising ourselves?
How was Facetune created?
In 2013, four computer science Ph.D. students from Israel had their million-dollar idea—an app that let regular people (not magazine cover stars) edit their photos as if they were the ones grazing those coveted pages. Only four years later, Facetune became Apple’s most popular paid app and the world’s largest influencer of digitally altered images.
Facetune CEO Zeev Farbman recounts that it was as if they “had won the lottery” with their face-smoothing, waist-cutting application.
The impact of Facetune
For most, Facetune is an oversimplified version of Photoshop—a quick way to make their appearance exactly how they want it before bracing the screens of others. For others, it’s a continued push of the advertising agenda we have known for so long—drastically unrealistic physical standards.
While magazines have been photoshopping since the software came to be, this practice has seeped into everyday life, impacting the pictures of people we know. With a few swipes of a finger and a $3.99 payment, anyone can create a smaller waist, bigger butt, or reduce a double chin
It can be easy to judge, but the pressure young people have to edit themselves for the public eye stems deeper than just craving a ‘like.”
Why do young women feel the need to edit their photos?
In an anonymous survey sent out to female students at Texas A&M University:
- 50.8% of respondents said they felt pressure from their peers to edit their pictures
- While 35.9% said celebrities/influencers/people of status were their main influence
The increased use and normalization of Facetune has created an endless cycle of social comparison and decreased self-confidence.
“Everyone I follow on social media looks perfect, so I feel pressure to make anything I post look as appealing as possible,” one respondent said. “Many of my pictures don’t even make it to social media even after editing because I’m too self-conscious about how they look.”
Additionally, 55.5% of women surveyed wrote that they were more inclined to alter an image with more skin showing, like a picture wearing a swimsuit or crop top. These insights reinforce the misconception that our bodies should be photo-ready and perfect at all times.
Social media and the increase in plastic surgery
The 2010s spoke loudly of body positivity and self-love, yet we continue to practice the opposite. Because of photo-editing and face-altering filters, plastic surgery visits are increasing.
According to The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery:
- An estimated 1.4 million surgical and non-surgical procedures took place in 2021, with plastic surgeons performing an average of 600 more procedures than they did in 2020—a 40 percent increase.
Celebrities like Zendaya have increased visibility on this issue by speaking out about edited images.
“Had a new shoot come out today and was shocked when I found my 19-year-old hips and torso quite manipulated. These are the things that make women self-conscious, that create the unrealistic ideals of beauty that we have,” she said.
This outspokenness shouldn’t stop at celebrities. With a new age of influencers, YouTubers, and social media models, removing the illusion of constant perfection at all levels can help society avoid unrealistic beauty standards.
In the same Texas A&M survey, one respondent sheds light on how authentic posts by those with status make her feel. “When a celebrity shares a selfie with a zit, it makes me feel less like a freak for having problem skin.”
How do we move forward?
While body-positive and authentic influencers help move the needle, studies show that peers are just as influential, or even more so, than those with a blue check mark.
“I wish we would all stop, but knowing others are doing it makes me do it too,” wrote a survey respondent.
It may be a slow process, but easing out photo editing can help others feel more beautiful in their own skin. Advertisements will continue to glorify their beauty standards, but we don’t need to do the same.
We’re less than perfect, but that doesn’t make us less beautiful. So when you feel confident, take your photo and share it unapologetically! The best version of yourself is the one where you’re completely and authentically yourself.
Clinical psychologist Donna Wick, EdD weighs in on the mental drainage one has when altering their appearance by cautioning, “If you practice being false for eight hours a day, it gets harder to accept the less-than-perfect being you are.”
Let’s move away from comparison and support each other for being beautiful, unique, and enough.