My husband loves me, and he shows me in many ways. One very annoying way he shows his regard is by posting photos of me on social media that I find unflattering and he thinks are gorgeous. I have become practically immune to having less-than-flattering photos posted, especially when he truly posts them out of regard and not malice.
The other day, we discussed “Facetune,” a new app which allows the user to alter his or her photo so that the subject looks like a magazine supermodel. He was concerned that people, especially adolescent girls, would view this app as creating a “better” them, and they would not appreciate their natural, beautiful appearance, which is made unique and wonderful by what they might perceive as flaws.
I thought about this point, and I downloaded the app in order to evaluate it. Now, I am from the Glamour Shots generation. Yes, I, like many women in the early 1990’s, had myself plastered with make-up and photographed a la Napoleon Dynamite. And guess what? I own a mirror. Although the experience was fun in a “dress up” way, I own a mirror, and I never had the impression that my Glamour Shot was anything but kind of silly. I certainly never wanted to convert my skin to plasticine, which is what the Glamour Shot looked like.
“Facetune” reminded me a lot of the Glamour Shot experience. I took a photo of myself after I just crawled out of bed-talk about an awkward selfie. I had not even washed my face or detangled my bedhead. Then, I took the photo and “Facetuned” it. The “smooth,” “blur,” and “filter” features were easy to use, but the “reshape,” “detail,” and “tone,” the more drastic changes, were well nigh impossible to do without making myself look like Frau Frankenstein-Monster. I don’t think that Facetune, in its current iteration, will be more than a smoke-and-mirrors parlor trick.
I do have one concern, however. Facetune allows the user to drastically change the effects of aging. It would be easy for a teen user to make him/herself look twenty-one. It would likewise be easy for a predator to make him/herself look eighteen. This dynamic underscores the need for parents and schools to remind children that what they see on the Internet is often far from reality.