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Ladies, Your Face Isn't Skinny Enough Either

Caitlin Plummer |
April 1, 2014 | 10:06 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

One of the SkinneePix's creators, Susan Green, using the app to take 15 pounds off of her selfie. (SkinneePix/Twitter)
One of the SkinneePix's creators, Susan Green, using the app to take 15 pounds off of her selfie. (SkinneePix/Twitter)
On March 11, the company Pretty Smart Women launched a $0.99 iPhone app that can make your selfies look skinnier by shaving up to 15 pounds off of your face.

That’s right: there’s now one more piece of technology to make women second-guess their appearance and its representation in photographs.

The app, SkinneePix, is the first for Pretty Smart Women, a company created by journalists Robin J. Phillips and Susan Green, a couple from Phoenix, Arizona. The name of the company is ironic to say the least, as it implies a focus on strong and interesting women who are much more than their selfies; yet the company has pioneered an app that suggests the exact opposite. Now women can overanalyze not only their bodies in photographs, but also the possible problems they may find in their smiling faces.

The founders seem to not see the issues in the app’s subtext, however. The idea for SkinneePix was born when Phillips and Green noticed that none of their friends were satisfied with their selfies during a vacation last summer. “It's not that they hated their body, they just didn’t like how they looked in the picture,” Green explained to the Los Angeles Times. “For as long as anybody can remember, there has always been that thing: the camera adds 10 or 15 pounds to you. That's why we're not going over 15 pounds.”

Though this makes clear that the app is not an attempt to perpetuate insecurity, but merely a way to fix selfies that turn out less than satisfactory, the creators are ignoring the fact that the idea of the app is inspired by society telling women they are not attractive enough naturally. After the 2012 viral YouTube video “Body Evolution - Model Before and After” highlighting what Photoshop actually does to models, some may have hoped that the extensive manipulation of women’s faces and bodies might start slowing to a stop. However, the video and others like it have done little if anything: just under one year after the YouTube phenomenon’s premiere, CollegeHumor released a spoof that completely trivializes the unrealistic beauty standards Photoshop has placed upon modern women. In other words, now that the exposé has made its rounds on the Internet, the public has accepted photo editing as a reality, and even more, a way of life so ingrained in society that it can be mocked.

SEE ALSO: LeanIn.org and Getty Images Won't Fix Everything

Arguably more disconcerting, however, is the praise SkinneePix has gotten in its reviews on the App Store. “I've seen a lot of image manipulation apps out there and this is by far the best attempt at it. Love it!” the top review, from Apps4Life2014, enthuses.

“I can't believe it makes my face look like my high school photos!!!” claims another, from OneTrueApp.

These positive impressions of the app leave a sick feeling in the stomach. Isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with the basis of these raving reviews?

They are all rooted in the idea that the face smiling back in your selfie is not already good enough.

Although videos like “Body Evolution - Model Before and After” have begun to shed light on what actually goes on behind magazine covers, it may take public figures advertising the realities of Photoshop to combat the inevitable retouch. Although Jezebel’s supposed exposé on Vogue’s Lena Dunham photo-shoot editing backfired when the Girls creator, actress and executive producer responded negatively, the idea of role models, real personalities being subject to Photoshop may be necessary. Putting a well-known face under the scrutiny of "before and after" will give viewers a more personal account of photo editing. Some celebrities are even taking this honest approach into their own hands. Just a few days ago, Lorde herself tweeted an edited picture of her performance next to an unedited one, contrasting her skin in the two.

On March 30, Lorde tweeted one edited and one unedited photo of her performance that day to remind her followers that "flaws are ok." (lordemusic/Twitter)
On March 30, Lorde tweeted one edited and one unedited photo of her performance that day to remind her followers that "flaws are ok." (lordemusic/Twitter)


The tweet went viral immediately, accompanied by thousands of praises of the musician’s blunt recognition of her own imperfections. “Remember flaws are ok,” the tweet said.

This is the kind of message that needs to be sent to women when they look at their selfies. This is the kind of message that a company named Pretty Smart Women should be relaying to its customers: not that the smiling face they show the world needs to be thinner.

Reach Staff Writer Caitlin Plummer here. Follow her on Twitter here.



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