Facetune is the best and worst invention ever to come into our lives
Get thee behind me, Satan
If you use Instagram, watch RuPaul’s Drag Race or have eyes, you’ve probably encountered Facetune recently.
The miracle app which allows us to smooth, conceal, nip tuck and filter our way to better photos is all over the series after contestant Aja – a drag queen who ‘came up’ as a heavily edited presence on social media – has been dragged for her IRL appearance where her skin is decidedly less smooth. Despite the vitriol thrown at her, Aja has embraced being outed for using Facetune, posting her before and after shots on Insta and saying she should be their brand ambassador.
I literally didn’t know what Facetune was until about a month ago, and quickly became absolutely obsessed. I felt so stupid for not having realised that it was a thing before. When I read trashy Mail Online articles about Beyonce or someone fucking up a photoshop and leaving a wavy-lined Instagram, or when I was sent screenshots from the wavy lined Instagrams of people my friends knew who had done the same thing and fucked it up on the same way, I always wondered how they had the time to do it. I can barely crop something on Photoshop. Turns out, it’s Facetune, the app of the gods (and devils).
The thing is, Facetune is in itself, a harmless thing. It’s a way to blur out small imperfections or brighten a photo or make it look great – even if unlike Kylie or Beyonce, you have less than 500 Instagram followers and they all know literally exactly what you look like anyway. If you don’t get locked on, it’s fun. When people are open and honest about it, there’s really no big deal. “This is me without edit on the left and with on the right – I don’t really see anything wrong with a nice filter”, says Lucy, sending me this pic.
“Would I have put it up like the original? Probably but after years of suffering from acne I obsess over my skin in photos and I feel more comfortable making sure it looks good even if that’s just banning the shine. Actually my boobs look great in that first photo. I swear they look bigger and I didn’t even edit the shape of me or anything. I guess the one on the left is more realistic but I’d already found some insane lighting and got dressed up and made up so why wouldn’t I make myself look even better?
“Facetune is life and if someone invents its for everyday life, I will invest heavily.”
It’s also become a progressive tool for body positive influencers like model Emily Bador, who regularly posts edited and unedited photos of herself on her Instagram and openly discusses her struggle to accept her body without photoshop.
I'm gonna be honest, this was actually really hard to post and I'm not really sure what I'm trying to achieve by posting it. Pre edit, I had written a long bad ass caption about how nothing is real blah blah. I've edited a couple of pics in the past but not posted them, however after editing this image I just felt so heart broken that I don't look like the version of me on the right bc I know it's physically possible for me to look like the version on the right. I have done, it wasn't healthy at all but I have done. That's the real issue I've always had, like we always get told "no one really looks like that etc etc, even the girls in the photos don't look like that", however it's different when not only do you see these girls in real life all the fucking time, and they do look like that, but also you have looked like that in the past? Every time I fail at anything, the little voice at the back of my head becomes louder with that constant rhetoric of "if you were thinner this would never have happened. so just do it, just lose it all again, don't be so weak, you've done it before". I guess, I'm sceptical of how many people regularly edit their images and even how much corporations do it, and so it's sometimes hard to believe a lot of body posi messages which makes trying to believe my body is great is a lil harder. The body positivity movement is amazing, but sometimes it's too positive for me. The constant happiness of the body posi instas make me sometimes feel like my journey isn't good enough, and that that little voice that's there should be gone completely. I just wanna say emotions are not constant, it's super damaging to think otherwise. Our obsession with happiness is so superficial and really can impact our mental health. So here's to every bad day, and everything we learn from it. Every time I do something horribly uncomfortable where I would rather curl up and not exist than do it, I learn something. I guess that's what I'm trying to achieve, posting this image isn't the end of the world and yeah, I do feel shit about it right now, but I'm learning from it. I'm sorry for the ramble, it's stupid but it's nice to get things of ya chest sometimes
The problem with Facetune though, aside from the obvious one that becoming obsessed with it will rot your self-image and make you question how you look and how you want to look, is that the discourse around it helps promote the disturbing idea that by changing a selfie, people (especially women) are somehow lying to everyone, that they shouldn’t be trusted, that they’re somehow less real and legitimate than women who don’t.
Writing for Grazia Lucy Vine points to Kendrick Lamar’s new video for Humble, which, while lauded as a feminist masterpiece is still “a man telling us what is and isn’t attractive about a woman”. In this case, it’s “fucking photoshop”. “I can’t escape the feeling that there is an exploitation of female insecurity here”, writes Vine.
Using Facetune might make you a little obsessed, but as long as you’re honest about why you like it (because it makes everyone look fitter) and you use it, like everything, in moderation, it’s not the be all and end all of the evils of social media. I used to be obsessed with it”, another friend, Lexi, says. “Like I would smooth the hell out of every photo and make my lashes darker and remove any trace of eye bags until I looked like a bowling ball. I never use it anymore, I think it’s way too obvious unless you’re super subtle and it’s only really good for blurring the background to make photos look more professional.”
The worrying thing is not the app itself then, it’s using it to slide into negative self-image, or using it to brand women as fake or basic. We can’t let it become the new dog filters, birthday balloons or whatever else makes us fake bitches currently.
Maybe take a step back from the retouch tool for five minutes and consider whether you actually need it, but if you like it, fuck it, blur to your heart’s content. We’re all guilty.