Beauty filters and retouching apps: Turning the ordinary into beauty queens

  • Style
  • Wednesday, 01 Jun 2022

Without filters and retouching apps, some people – especially influencers – would be completely unrecognisable. Photo: 123rf

It’s become an obsession for many. Filters and retouching apps have such an all-encompassing presence on social networks that we don’t know what stars, influencers, and virtual friends actually look like.

Slim down figures, give the rear end a lift, erase cellulite, wrinkles, acne, and stretch marks, and even more, to attain a fantasy beauty ideal, which is not exactly in line with the body positivity movement that advocates self-acceptance.

As summer approaches, we tell you all about these applications that transform ordinary people into beauty queens.

In 2019, Chinese influencer Your Highness Qiao Biluo became the laughing stock of the web as the filter she used for her videos was disabled on the social network Douyu.

The web celebrity, who pretended to be a young woman in her 20s, was found out to be a woman of 58 years old – which in itself isn’t a problem – and her physique was completely unlike that of her fresh-faced, glamorous virtual twin.

Filters and photo editing apps, which continue to proliferate like wildfire, have the ability to completely transform a person, from head to toe.

In recent years the filtered aesthetic has taken over social networks to such an extent that it has become the reference in appearances and dangerously so.

We’re now talking about “Snapchat dysmorphia”, which is defined as an exaggerated concern expressed by someone about what they perceive as the unsightly appearance of all or part of their body, whether this fear has an objective basis or not.

And it appears to be a vicious circle, with various complexes being reported, especially among young users, while these complexes are also generating an increase in medical and cosmetic surgery procedures.

With the approach of summer in the northern hemisphere, now the discourse can eschew the recurrent “summer body” topic and instead, look at just how much these “beautifying” filters can change the appearance of a person, whether it’s Kim Kardashian or a friend on Facebook, and have an impact on a person’s self-esteem.

Because while some individuals remain easily identifiable, with others there is genuine uncertainty regarding the real or misleading nature of some pictures.

Slim down the figure, camouflage cellulite and stretch marks, erase wrinkles to look younger... filters have an endless capacity for deception. These days, the idea that appearances can be misleading should be top of mind when scrolling through a social network feed.

Journalist and content creator Danae Mercer denounces overly retouched photos on Instagram. Photo: Instagram/Danae MercerJournalist and content creator Danae Mercer denounces overly retouched photos on Instagram. Photo: Instagram/Danae Mercer

Lose 7kg in one click

While the Skinneepix app has been used extensively by its customers over the last few years to “lose weight” thanks to a simple click – up to 15lbs or 7kg to be precise – there are now dozens of them.

Perfect Me is one of the many programmes that sculpt a figure without having to actually sweat it out on the treadmill. Among its many features, users can choose a slim waist, long, beautiful legs and even to build abdominal muscles. Just like that.

The same goes for RetouchMe, whose promise is unequivocal: a “unique photo adjustment service which helps you to get a perfect face and body processing without any photo editing skills, with “much higher quality than other apps so that nobody will ever know that your image was enhanced”.

Set to become even more widespread with summer beach and pool season, which will push many women to compare themselves to these deceptive pictures that abound on social networks.

But influencers are not content to just pretend to lose weight miraculously, they also use every trick in the book to smooth out their figure – including erasing cellulite and stretch marks that are probably too unsightly for the Instagram and Snapchat worlds.

Don’t be fooled, apps like FitPix or PrettyUp offer this service – and in just a few seconds – enabling users to get a muscular and slimmed down body free from any “imperfections”.

Just look up from your phone this summer and you’ll see that few women in real life display this so-called perfection, and that’s probably not a bad thing.

Bye-bye dark circles, wrinkles and pimples

While influencers regularly retouch their bodies when they share a picture on social networks, the face remains at the centre of their daily life online. Between all the videos and photos posted, it is clearly the most exposed area in the social media era.

As a result, it too undergoes a lot of retouching to erase anything that might put off followers and thus reduce the number of views.

Facetune is one of the most popular apps of its kind, since it smoothes the face to remove wrinkles, dark circles, bags, and pimples, and can even give you a tanned complexion, streamline the face, accentuate lip colour, and whiten the teeth.

A total makeover, in short. In a few clicks, you’re not treating a photo, but rather creating a real avatar.

And to top it all off, most of the aforementioned apps allow users – as one might expect – to enlarge eyes, make lips fuller, and enhance the cheekbones, among the most fashionable beauty criteria right now.

So it’s impossible to know – unless you use these apps and filters excessively as Madonna recently did on Instagram – if your favourite influencers really look like their “virtual self” in real life.

The fact remains that health professionals – surgeons and psychologists – are unanimous on the subject, emphasising that constantly comparing oneself to images seen on social networks can only have a detrimental effect on self-esteem. A warning not to be ignored.

Check out the amazing difference when you’re using filters (left) and when you’re not. Photo: Instagram/Beauty.falseCheck out the amazing difference when you’re using filters (left) and when you’re not. Photo: Instagram/Beauty.false

The skin-positivity, no-filter movement

For several months, an increasing number of voices have been speaking out on social networks to denounce this dangerous reign of false appearances created by filters, and urging users to show themselves in their natural state.

Something that many celebrities, including Alicia Keys and Ashley Tisdale, have done, as well as a slew of regular social network users.

But beyond that, many Instagram accounts are now calling out the practice of using these deceptive filters, unmasking those who regularly use them, or revealing the “behind the scenes” of a “perfect” photo.

This is what journalist and content creator Danae Mercer is doing, whose account is full of “before and after” shots, intended to raise awareness among as many people as possible about the “power” of these filters and apps.

Read more: The sweet smell of trash? Perfumers are using waste to concoct new scents

And she doesn’t stop there, as she also reveals the tricks used by influencers to give the illusion of a flat stomach, bulging buttocks, or a slimmer waist.

Other accounts, for instance like @beauty.false, pin retouched photos of celebrities or influencers who don’t hesitate to beautify themselves on social networks, or honour those who reveal themselves in all authenticity.

Viewers discover the falsified pix of a host of retouched personalities, who hide all their “flaws”, and probably more, to the point, all end up looking the same.

Fortunately an increasing number of accounts are showing us that social networks often have nothing to do with reality. – AFP Relaxnews

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beauty , social media , trends , Instagram , TikTok , Douyu


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