In the age of Instagram, Facetune has become something that is impossible to forget. It’s nearly impossible to go on the app and not see images that have been retouched (most of the time with Facetune).
Even if you don’t follow the kind of accounts where Facetune use is very common(beauty/fashion influencers, celebrities etc.), going onto the explore page will often show retouched photos anyways. So while Facetune has become totally normalized – many of us use it ourselves – this doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing. There are quite some issues with the way we are currently using Facetune and it’s time to discuss them.
Temporary vs. Permanently
First of all, I want to clarify that I don’t think all Facetune use is bad. But not all Facetune usage is equal either.
There’s a big difference between making small temporary changes and altering part of yourself that are either unattainable in real life, or are ‘permanent.’
Temporary things include removing a pimple or two, ‘permanent’ things include completely changing the shape of your nose, lips or other body parts. These are things that you either can’t change without cosmetic procedures or simple cannot achieve at all.
So again, small temporary imperfections like removing pimples are fine. They make your photo a little nicer, but many people, especially public figures, don’t stop there.
They go a step further and use Facetune to distort and change their body shape and bone structure. Creating curves where there are none or slimming down waists that are biologically simply non-existent (where are your organs stored?!). It’s this part that is problematic, because it’s causing both the uploader of such photos and the people viewing the photos a wide array of issues.
The past and the current
Before moving on to these issues, let’s first address the difference between the past and now.
Yes, in the past we also had beauty and fashion magazines/ ads that portrayed impossible beauty standards. However, growing up with these images, we generally knew they weren’t real.
We knew that these women were not ordinary women, we knew they were supermodels and even as supermodels they were being photoshopped in the magazines. When I used to go through Vogue, in the back of my mind I knew that the images were professionally retouched.
But social media started out as a place where we followed our friends and people who we relate to. Even the influencers we follow are a little bit like our ‘buddies.’ As a matter of a fact a whopping 40% of millenials think their favorite Youtube influencer understands them better than their friends.
When we scroll through our timeline, we expect to see realness. In reality, it’s just as fake as the magazines that used to receive endless (and justified) criticism back in the days. It’s even worse, because through the phones in our pockets, we are never really away from these images. We never catch a break, thus making it so problematic.
Most damaging platform?
Out of all the platforms, Instagram has been proven to do the most damage to our mental health. Not a surprise, since Instagram is a visual platform with perfect image upon perfect image.
Instagram is also the place where Facetune is used the most. On a platform where you are publically judged based on a picture, there is an immense pressure to craft every image to perfection before uploading. And this striving for perfection has created some really messed up beauty standards.
The beauty ideal that is the total trend right now is the Slim Thicc body. You know, a tiny waist with flat tummy, but hella sexy and big curves. Of course, there are no cellulite or any other flaws visible.
Aka a body type that is almost non-existent in the real world (through mother nature). If you have a big butt and big boobs, it’s likely that you have a fluffier tummy. That’s normal, nothing wrong with that. Likewise, if you have an incredibly fit and flat stomach, you’re probably less curvy. Also completely normal.
It’s just biology, that’s how our anatomy works. Few people in the world are naturally blessed with small waists, abs and big curves at the same time. Yet if you open your Instagram app, you would think that the whole world is blessed with this kind of body except you, since this kind of body is the body we see all over our timeline and explore page. Being bombarded with these images, that are almost always retouched with our good ol’ friend Facetune, is bound to affect your self-esteem negatively.
Mind your business and just move on?
Now, some people might think just mind your business and don’t follow these accounts.
Let’s first start why this should be everyone’s business. Children and teenagers are on Instagram. Young girls and boys that follow these influencers and are fully unaware that everything is faked for the ‘Gram. They’re at an age where they are naturally insecure and trying to discover themselves, but they’re being bombarded with images that they can never attain, because they’re simply not real.
Do we really want our children to grow up in this kind of world?
Even for the rest of us, it’s hard to fully escape. Everybody and their momma is on social media, most people have an Instagram. And honestly, that doesn’t need to be a bad thing. But it becomes a bad thing, when the images we see are all so artificial and we’re not even aware of it. Of course it will influence us and the way we view ourselves and our lives.
On top of that, some of these influencers literally have millions of followers that they are presenting with false images. This is a huge audience that could be impacted by all these images that make them feel less worthy. When you are a person with thousands, sometimes millions of followers, it is NOT just your business, because you have the power to influence others. Putting out photos with distorted bodies and faces as an influential person contributes to a toxic environment with unattainable beauty standards.
Damaging self-esteem and cosmetic treatments
Even when we are the ones Facetuning ourselves, it’s horribly dangerous for our self image. Why? Because when we Facetune ourselves into a perfect, unattainable version of ourselves, we will never be happy with the way we look, since we’ve ‘seen’ what we could look like and unfortunately we often prefer the retouched version of ourselves. So it’s unhealthy even for the people who are retouching themselves, because they’ve set themselves a standard they can’t achieve either.
Another thing that we should think about it the possible seeds that it can plant in our minds, regarding cosmetic procedures. No, I am not saying that everyone who looks at these type of images will want to run to a plastic surgeon to get something done. However, there is a possibility that in some people it might plant a seed in their minds. Take lip fillers as an example. We are seeing beautiful full lips everywhere online and they make it look so easy and effortless to get them.
This is fueled by influencers who are out there promoting the clinics where they get their lip fillers and such done. It all makes it seem as if it’s a small procedure without any risks too. And of course, this isn’t the case. Even ‘small’ procedures like lip fillers can be risky and cause allergic reactions. Aside from these health concerns, how did it become normal that influencers are posting these promotions while handing out discount codes (that pay them in the end), when we can be certain that a substantial part of their followers are minors?
Without social media, would there really be such a huge amount of young people that are getting lip fillers done?
Aside from the cosmetic treatments, we have brainwashed ourselves into thinking that normal things are abnormal. Things like pores, acne and cellulite, which are perfectly normal things to have (and in the case of pores, impossible not to have). Stop letting these false beliefs decrease your joy and quality of life. Rewire your brain so you (once again) become aware of what real bodies and faces look like. Get used to having these incredibly normal flaws.
It took me months to once again get used to the fact that human beings in fact have pores and that this is completely okay. I had been applying makeup every single day for so long that going outside without it downright freaked me out. While it took a long time to realize that that’s just what skin looks like, it was worth it. I still love makeup. Only now when I put it on – which is also not every day anymore – I do it because I think it’s fun and it goes with my mood that day, not because I feel like I have no choice. I do have a choice, and so do you. Put it on when you want to, not when you feel like you must do it.
The psychological effects
You are affected, even when you don’t think you are
Whether we like it or not, our subconscious mind does react to these images. Even when we think we aren’t affected, we really are. The Youtuber Em Ford created a video in which she worked together with a team of professors and cognitive neuroscientists. They showed retouched (and unattainable) images of beautiful women to a group of women, while their brain activity was being scanned, and what they found was mind blowing.
The brain activity of these women who were seeing the images, were literally similar to the brains of traumatized people suffering from PTSD. Seeing those perfect images activated parts of the brain that react to trauma in every single woman in the research. Let that sink in for a moment.
So, even when you scroll past these images and don’t spend much time on it, your brain is still unconsciously affected and you can’t really control this.
What to do now?
Hopefully this article was eye-opening to you and you are now more aware of the reality. For many, being aware of just the fact that the majority of the images are not real is already a huge help. When you see photos of people with absolutely perfect bodies and faces, you now know that it’s not real. So please don’t feel bad for not looking like that, because even they don’t look like that in real life.
If you are currently using Facetune excessively, try to tone it down a bit for your own sake. After all, the way you look without it is absolutely fine, don’t forget that.
Another thing, if there are people that you follow online that always manage to make you feel like you’re not enough, consider pressing that unfollow button.
Life is too short to not absolutely love yourself and if other people, even if it’s not on purpose, make you feel any less than beautiful, it’s time to unfollow.
Follow some cute cat accounts instead. After all, a cat meme a day keeps the doctor away.
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