Inside The Facetune Epidemic

Not really to do with books, but PG could imagine a lot of stories arising from the OP.

From The Huffington Post:

Sky Lane scrolled through the pictures from an impromptu photo shoot she’d done with her friend and picked her favorite. It was cute — she was showing off her side profile in a black crop top, tight blue jeans, big silver hoops and smoky bronze eyeshadow. But the 21-year-old wouldn’t dare post it to Instagram for the world to see just yet. She opened Facetune, a photo-retouching app on her iPhone, and got to work.

Using the “Reshape” tool, she started pushing her tummy inward, little by little. She had to be careful not to noticeably warp the background in the process; the trick was to edit the photo without making it look like it had been edited. Skewed lines, blurry edges and inconsistencies in shadows and reflections were easy giveaways that Lane had learned how to avoid through years of practice — she’d been Facetuning since she was a teenager. She used the same tool to give herself a breast lift, slim her arm, cinch her waist and make her butt rounder, like the bodies flooding her Instagram feed.

Next she moved onto her face. Her friend had taken the photo using a Snapchat filter that had already plumped her lips, slimmed her nose and smoothed her skin so much her pores were no longer visible, but Lane applied Facetune’s complexion retouching effect for good measure. Her jawline was an easy fix with the jaw-slimming tool. Usually she’d whiten her teeth, but they were hardly showing. The more technical tweaks, like individually repositioning her eyebrows and narrowing the tip of her nose, required tools only available on the paid version of the app, which she’d upgraded to long ago.

She was done in under 20 minutes. The final product still looked like her, Lane decided, just a better, more acceptable version. She sent it to her mom, who didn’t seem to notice that anything had been altered, giving Lane the reassurance she needed that it was pretty and believable — polished but not overdone. She wouldn’t want her followers to accuse her of being a “catfish,” a term that has evolved in the Facetune era to describe someone who enhances their pictures beyond recognition.

Lane was finally ready to post the photo. It got 179 “likes,” which she thought was pretty good; without Facetune, she figured, she’d be lucky to get 40. Like the myriad other women who’ve been conditioned to pick apart their appearances, Lane has countless insecurities — including many that are invisible to everyone except her. The app makes them go away with a few simple finger strokes and ushers in the social validation she craves, which is at once addictively thrilling and utterly depressing.

Facetune makes it harder for her to love herself, but at least she can love her selfie.

“It can get super obsessive, because the second I take a photo I feel like I need to Facetune it,” Lane said. “Now I’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, I’m chubby, but I can fix that.’”

. . . .

We’ve been sinking deeper into this reality for a while now, but it has accelerated during the pandemic, when we’ve spent more time than ever on social media, and when our digital selves have for so long been the only version anyone has seen of us. The result is a body dysmorphia epidemic with increasingly unattainable beauty standards that — at the extremes — defy basic human physiology. 

. . . .

Cosmetic surgeons who spoke to HuffPost said they now regularly have patients come in with photos of themselves that have been so heavily Facetuned they would be anatomically impossible to replicate: jaws so slim teeth would need to be pulled, facial structures so warped eyeballs would need to be repositioned, legs so long femurs would need to be stretched; heads so narrow skulls would need to be reshaped; waists so cinched ribs and internal organs would need to be removed.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post

Here’s a Facetune before/after comparison from an article that shows several additional examples.

14 thoughts on “Inside The Facetune Epidemic”

  1. Honest to goodness, at first glance I thought this was a sci-fi piece, perhaps something from Ray Bradbury or a more recent descendant.

    As I tell my kids every week as a new headline reminds me how fast the world is spinning these days, “We are living in the future!”

    The weird part is that while some of the stuff we’re seeing was foreseen (pocket video phones, self-driving robot cars), some of it is so original and “out there” that no sci-fi author of the last century would deem it believable enough to include in a novel.

  2. The girl on the left looks sweet and natural, the one on the right like an exaggerated vampire.

    Real is better, even though a BIT of makeup to bring out the features (not the kind that turns every woman into a Barbie doll) can help just about anyone.

    • Yes!!!

      In fact that right hand picture had me thinking of the robotic uncanny valley – almost but not quite human.

  3. That’s my main complaint about anime, too – the proportions are so exaggerated that no one looks that good. And that is no way for kids to grow up.

    Women’s pattern makers and fashion designers have been guilty of that for as along as I can remember – making the torsos short and the legs almost twice as long (depending on fashion for the amount of torso enhancement) as a human’s – and it has been exposed how much even the skinniest models have their bodies and features ‘enhanced’ by Photoshop techniques.

    If you have your Hungarian peasant ancestor’s bones, as I do, it’s a physical impossibility, which sets you up for a lifetime of not meeting expectations, no matter how hard you try. Not a good thing.

    • About anime (and manga): the style is intentional.
      It is not intended to be realistic but rather the opposite, purposefully non-ethnic. Not asian, western, or african. With exceptions. Think of it as a form of shorthand.

      American comics used to strive for more realistic depictions. Over at DC in the 50’s and 60’s there was a general “house style” direction that favored the Dan Barry look.
      Early depictions of, say THE FLASH, were lean and not particularly bulky. Very much by tbe character’s specified persona as a CSI:

      Other characters were intended to be muscular but still within the range of real humans. The exagerated physiques came about in the 90’s. Names can be named to assign blame.

      And blame should be assigned because it isn’t young women alone that buy into the myths of what “normal” is supposed to be.

      • Just because it is intentional doesn’t mean it is not damaging – the intended audience seems to me to be young men, and their unrealistic expectations, especially unconscious, cause problems for them as well as for women.

        It is easy to say reality shows people what actually exists, but the real money comes from feeding the unreal expectations, and giving the consumers ‘what they want.’

        So each iteration is just a little bit more exaggerated. And each successful artist is a little farther out. Because that’s what sells.

        Awareness of what’s happening blunts the effect a bit.

        • The intended audience is Japanese.
          Different culture. Very different culture. And little if any of the material is aimed at children.

          Until relatively recently the only sources of manga and anime in the US were bootlegs. All the US market was created by westerners. There has recently been woke criticism bandied at manga and the publishers reply was effectively “don’t like it? don’t buy it. It wasn’t created for you.”

          (Animation isn’t only or even primarily for kids. Without going too far, go to Amazon PRIME VIDEO. And look up the recently adapted INVINCIBLE. Be warned, it features explicit violence. No sexual content though, unlike other adult animation.)

          The japanese creators never were nor are they today particularly invested in exports. The money is good enough but nothing they can’t live without. Faced with a choice between the money and their vision, the money loses. That makes them inmune to the woke.

          Might as well complain about all the western anthropomorphic animal cartoons and their antics. Say Donald Duck’s “nephews” whose parents have never been refered to. (Yes, that is a thing for handwringers.) 😀

  4. Even if we are fortunate in our physical inheritance, all of us (who live long enough) are going to have to come to terms with the effects of aging. Not the luckiest winner of the genetics lottery and diligent gym rat can turn back the clock for real.

    Nothing is more pathetic than the woman of 40 or 50 obsessed with hard-core competition with the aesthetics of youth. (Brains, character, and attitude may be another matter, but physical flesh is what it is.)

    Every sane person I know over the age of 25 has come to terms with this. It’s not an accident that the primary victims of the “addiction” are the young, who haven’t yet figured out that they will need to make an accommodation with reality someday (or even now), and it’s better to change whatever they can naturally if possible rather than obsess over fantasy.

    • Don’t let the older men off the hook, either – the ‘trophy wife’ is proof of standing in way too much of the male world. I think that’s equally pathetic, if you’re going to throw that adjective around.

  5. I like the left-hand picture much better. She looks alive and real. The right-hand one looks like an alien from a manga book. I’m surprised even a young and stupid girl, obsessed with appearance, as the heroine of the piece seems to be, would choose the right-hand one.

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