Facetune Video is the first video editing app designed specifically for retouching selfie videos.All your fave Facetune features are now available for video: smooth skin, whiten teeth, shape and contour facial features, add makeup and more. Facetune 2 is now available on the App Store!
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FaceTune (n.d.) is an application that allows for precision photo editing transformations that are particularly focused on the body. Use of the app has arguably become a major factor to the success of many Instagram (n.d.) influencers, with this resulting in the rise in everyday users taking on the role of editor and manipulating their own body image.This paper will discuss the impact that Facetune (n.d.) has on the construction and performance of identity online, through theories of identity performance and the role Instagram (n.d.) influencers play in development and expectations of these performances amongst their communities. To expand this further the argument will be made through discussions of opinionative texts of the larger concerns and implications in reality. Therefore, presenting the argument of how these unrealistic expectations of self, have led to a continually growing community that is bounded by the pressures to conform and encourages their dysmorphic view of what the human body should be.
Keywords: Social Media, Identity, Online Identity, Performance, Influencers, Communities, Body Image, Facetune, Instagram
The manipulation of body image through apps such as Facetune has resulted in what can be considered a digital dysmorphia, that has developed within the realms of Instagram influencers and their followers; leading to the development of communities that pursue these inauthentic presentations whilst contributing to a larger concern over expectations for the human body and the unhealthy repercussions of this. This argument will be located within the context of the Instagram application, in particular the young female influencers and their followers. Facetune has grown tremendously since first becoming notable ins 2013, as an application targeted to young social media users (in particular young women) as an easy to use photo editing system that allows for the manipulation of body and skin appearance (Facetune, n.d.). The significance of this kind of body editing is exemplified through Boyd’s (2007) explanation of the bodies role in identity performance as “conveying who we are to other people, we use our bodies to project information about ourselves.” (p.11). This idea of the body as an integral part of our identity communication will be discussed further, as well as the role in which influencers take on as part of their communities and the resulting attitudes toward the body as an online representation of perfection and the ideal body image expected among users.
Facetune and the Body as a Messenger of Identity
The issue caused by Facetune at its basis, is one of body image, in that the concern over what this kind of extreme manipulation of bodies in the digital space will do to the thoughts and expectations of bodies in the physical world. The idea of body-image and the control it holds over individuals is explained by Jobsky (2014) as the expectation for “their bodies to be malleable and controllable in order to adopt culturally and socially accepted features” (p.8), Jobsky goes on to state the body as a possession that assists in the communication of identity. As previously mentioned, Boyd (2007) states the body as a key factor to identity performance, however in the case of Instagram that online users have far more control over how others see them with the ability to make particular and conscious decisions to ensure their identity is represented as they wish. Identity performance, as explained by Pearson (2009), was developed by Goffman (1959), as a reference to the theatrical term of performance in order to explain the “act” in which people use to best communicate and attempt to present a particular image to others. Pearson (2009) explains the online performance as a “blurring between front–stage and back–stage” (para. 8), this can be particularly true in the use of the body amongst Facetune users, as the so-called front-stage performance of their bodies is severely edited, often surpassing the physical realities of what the human body can be, whilst it is understood that this is different to the real appearance of the body in the back-stage or offline. By providing an opportunity to blur the lines between back and front stage, Facetune users may be tempted to do in the offline what they do online; by allowing the pressures of online appearances in the front-stage to impact on their views of their bodies in the back-stage. Whilst this is a common understanding of the possibilities of technology in the online realm, it does not speak to a disregard for this kind of editing as nonchalant, rather it often pushes toward a need to conform among this. It can then be said that the implication of Facetune is that it allows for the possessive view of the human body, and the manipulation of this performance further pushes the individual to conform to societal expectations of the appearance of the female body and what is considered attractive.
This manipulation of the performance through the use of Facetune can be considered a form of identity deception (Donath, 1999), however it is a form of which that has not been seen to this extent before amongst the layman’s’ use of the internet; as a deceptive identity through photographs of the actual self. Although there is argument to question what level of editing can be constituted as deceptive, for the case of this discussion, any form of editing that changes the actual self through use of digital manipulation can be considered so, as traditionally a photograph has been seen as a known, or factual representation of an event or person. Sturken and Cartwright (2009) explain this sense of fact as photographs having both epistemological and ontological sense, in that it they are able to provide the knowledge and proof that something has existed (p.193). It is to say that photographs have a sense of reality to them, as the presence of the camera is associated with the capturing of a real event or person within that time. Facetune has allowed for a disruption of reality due to the technological developments which allow for a person to be transformed beyond that of previously known editing effects available to mobiles. Unless the audience to the image, has the ability to view the person in the back-stage or real world, they must therefore take the front-stage deception as a reality and assume an honest or factual presentation.
The Influence of ‘Influencers’ amongst Their Communities
Instagram (n.d.) is the social media platform where Facetuned images are most commonly found, as a social network based around the sharing of images and videos it has become a breeding ground for societal pressures to conform to, in both a visual and physical sense (Wiederhold, 2018). Influencers are often seen as the leaders of the online communities involved in Instagram; meaning that it is their actions that influence the actions of others within their community, therefore when influencers engage with Facetune they are allowing this activity to be viewed as an acceptable form of identity performance. Virtual communities according to Dennis, Pootheri & Natarajan (1998), as cited by Ridings & Gefen (2006), are characterised by“people with shared interests or goals for whom electronic communication is a primary form of interaction” (para. 5), within the context of Instagram and influencers, these communities tend to share interests and investments in the lives of influencers, often being drawn in by a common interest such as fashion or health. But it is the influencers interaction with their followers that allow for the term community to be applied, as they appear to form a sense of unity amongst them and often encourage regular conversations and shared experiences (Ridings & Grefen, 2006). Members of communities are respondent to those around them, as the sense of belonging can inform decisions, especially amongst those who hold influence over others. Huffaker (2010) addresses the influence on follower decision making as a result of the sociability of the influencer, or the degree in which they communicate and encourage this sense of belonging among them. Stating that “leaders in successful online communities spend time motivating participation from other members in order to foster a sense of social identity within the group” (para. 8), this idea of motivated participation therefore suggest that followers of influencers are more likely to participate in the use of Facetune and manipulation of body-image if the leaders of their communities suggest they do so. However, it can be observed that influencers do not necessarily need to state the use of Facetune for their followers to use it, but rather followers may take on use of Facetune in order to conform to the images portrayed by influencers unknowing that they too are edited (Pantelli, 2015), therefore the idolisation of the leader within their community can lead to an indirect response from followers that see their leaders posting images that display this kind of idealised body image and therefore feel the need to participate in order to be seen by others as similar to their leader or gain status amongst the peers of their community.
The prevalent use of Facetune amongst the influencer and Instagram communities has the potential to result in both concerning ideas over what the ideal human body in the online space is, as well as a broader concern over these ideals taking part in offline society. An opinionative article posted by Martinez (2018), addresses these concerns of Facetune and the blurred lines of front-stage and back-stage; suggesting that there is a possibility to be unable to distinguish between the front-stage and back-stage, or the edited and unedited, and therefore may have negative impacts on self-esteem (para. 7). Which could in turn lead to more serious concerns such as depression or eating disorders, this clearly exemplifies the possible repercussions on this kind of activity, and the larger concerns over what this means for their community. More specifically Wiederhold (2018) speaks on the concern this has on the younger users of Instagram or the followers to the leaders of Instagram, those more susceptible to influence and with less strongly held ideas of self. Stating that the platform itself, in its construction, “is uniquely poised to set unrealistic expectations, feelings of inadequacy, and low self-esteem” (para. 3). As an application that is solely used to shares images and videos, with little opportunity for textual context, Instagram provides a “highlight reel” (para. 3) of lives without the opportunity for imperfection. With the added deception of Facetune to an already selective view on lifestyle and the human body, Instagram enhances the pressures perfectionism both in the way in which user’s others and themselves. The idea of digital dysmorphia is that of a disconnect between what is expected and the actuality of appearances, the possibility of users being exposed to deceptive representations of others with the intention for it to be seen as natural is of great concern. Much like the known concerns of ‘photoshopping’ amongst advertising and mainstream media (Jobsky, 2014) that has been debated in the past, it can be said that as much as one’s identity is under their own control, there should be a level of social responsibility over this. Altering one’s body image may not necessarily just affect those who are edited, but contribute to the larger problem of what the ideal body is; whether that may be imperfection free skin, skinny legs, a small waist or hourglass figure.
Whilst there is due concern for the younger users of Instagram and their interactions with Facetune, it can also be argued that the Influencers are not necessarily to blame for their part of leading communities, but rather they too are merely succumbing to the larger expectations of bodies and identity performance that society holds. Martinez (2018) reiterates this view in stating that Influencers and celebrities alike are pressured to maintain this perfection as a result of their need for business, in which their value is measured by likes, comments and followers. Harris (2018) addresses these pressures amongst influencers as an “entire industry of people who get paid to make their lives look perfect online” (para. 19), it cannot be assumed that these influencers are not aware of the possible repercussions of their actions, however they simply may not have a viable alternative to what is expected by the wider community of what an influencer should look like.
The use of Facetune amongst the communities surrounding influencers on the Instagram app, has resulted in an ever-growing pressure to conform to the societal views of both perfectionism and ideal body image, this trend of falsified and deceptive representations of self presents concern over the implications of technology as part of the performance of identities. As the body is a key element within the construction as well as performance of identity, the digital manipulation of the body extends past the simplicities of basic identity presentations, the formation of photographs in deceptive representations of self only further blur the lines between the front-stage and back-stage. The growing presence of influencers surround the internet as they develop and encourage to communication and participation of their followers or community members. As leaders of their communities; influencers hold a particular position of power over the decision making of their followers via sociability and the idolization that followers hold for both the leaders of the communities as well as the intention to build a status for themselves amongst their peers.
The larger concerns over the use of Facetune, however is that of the susceptible follower’s feelings toward these heavily edited images and the real repercussions that can occur due to these intensified pressures over body image. Therefore, the use of Facetune facilitates various means for body image editing on Instagram that is resulting in Influencers succumbing to the pressures of perfectionism and therefore attracting communities that are likely to take on this kind of deceptive identity presentation, which is resulting in a concerning culture of unrealistic expectations for the human body and both a digital and physical dysmorphia.
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Donath, J. (1999). Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community. In P. Kollock, & M. A. Smith (Eds.), Communities in Cyberspace (pp. 29-59). Retrieved fromhttp://smg.media.mit.edu/people/Judith/Identity/IdentityDeception.html
Facetune [application]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.facetuneapp.com
Harris, K. (2018). Instagram Culture Breeds Toxic Perfectionism. University Wire.Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/2003285264?rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
Huffaker, D. (2010). Dimensions of Leadership and Social Influence in Online Communities. Human Communication Research, (36)4.
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Instagram [application]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com
Jobsky, A. (2014). The Body-Image-Meaning-Transfer Model: An Investigation of the Sociocultural Impact on Individuals’ Body-Image. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=1640389
Martinez, C. (2018). The Benefits and Burdens of Facetune. University Wire. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/2127865921?accountid=10382
Pantelli, N. (2015). On Leaders’ Presence: Interactions and Influences within Online Communities. Behaviour & Information Technology,(35)6. P. 490-499. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1080/0144929X.2016.1144084
Pearson, E. (2009). All the World Wide Web’s a stage: The performance of identity in online social networks. First Monday,14(3). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2162
Ridings, C., & Grefen, D. (2006). Virtual Community Attraction: Why People Hang Out Online. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2004.tb00229.x
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Wiederhold, B. (2018). The Tenuous Relationship Between Instagram and Teen Self-Identity. Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, (21)4. Retrieved from DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2018.29108.bkw
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Are digital facelift apps like Facetune harmless fun, or should women be afraid?
This piece was originally published on 20 March, 2019.
I have a question: Do we even know what real skin looks like anymore?
How can we be sure? For the most part all we're inundated with is a digital representation of plumped up lips, poreless skin and narrow noses, the so-called Instagram ideal of beauty.
By now, we all know Photoshop is not our friend and I'm not just talking about how difficult it is to use (why y'all gotta make it so complex?). Apps like FaceTune, Perfect 365, Beauty Plus and many, many more work because they make it easy for one to alter images with more precision than Instagram/Snapchat filters but less confusion than other professional photo-editing tools like Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.
Plus, they're right there on your phone.
Facetune's description on the App Store reads like this: 'With Facetune you can now you be sure that your selfie shows only the best version of you - whether you’ll be using those portraits for your professional profile or simply sharing your selfie online with friends. In a world constantly becoming more visual, putting your best face forward has never been more important!'
Vanity got the best of me and I decided to give Facetune 2 and Perfect 365 a go to see if they live up to the hype. Ahead of Women's Day, now is a good as time as any to be talking about the psychological effects of a 'digital facelift':
Down the rabbit hole I go
I put up a poll on a trusty all-female group on Facebook asking women if they use these apps and most of them answered that they don't, a few said sometimes and even fewer answered yes, all the time. Okay but celebrities do use these, right? Apparently not.
How To Use Facetune 2
I reached out to three actors I knew, all flat-out denied it, saying the edited pictures on their grid are from shoots which have already been edited but they don't tweak them personally. One actress, who's pretty popular on such platforms said, 'Maybe my social media manager uses it before posting on my account but I don't for sure.'
My friend, Natalia* who's also an Instagram influencer (yep, that's a thing now) seems to think that's not exactly the truth: 'The whole trick is to use it in a way that no one can tell you've used it and that's why you never have to admit to having used it. Duh!'
Basically don't be a beghairat who smooths out her skin to the point of no pores. EVERYONE HAS PORES PEOPLE, IT'S TOTALLY NORMAL AND AN ACCEPTABLE INSTA AESTHETIC.
Celebrity stylist and writer, Haiya Bokhari confirmed what my friend shared: 'Most celebs I know, especially the ones who are very active and influential on social media will definitely use photo-editing apps to fine-tune the image before posting. The idea is make the photo look polished and to remove any blemishes or correct flaws.'
I downloaded the app to see what exactly these things are capable of. Going into it I was a little scared of going overboard, having edited my photographs in the past, and this is strictly just messing around with the brightness/contrast, I know I have a tendency to be a little extra. Don't blame me, blame the colonisers that made us believe fair is lovely. I own my melanin now. I just wish my 16-year-old self knew that blown out Simpson yellow is not a good look for me. I had to show restraint.
I started off with just smoothing out the skin because like Regina George, I too have giant pores. And of course I had to remove that little blemish from my forehead.
Okay, not too bad.
I had to make my nose smaller alright? I just had to! I was surprised at how efficient these tools were and so precise; you can fix everything from the length, width, size, you name it, of your nose. Your eyes can be closer together or further apart. Your brows can be sharper, your lips can be enhanced. You can even put on makeup.
I'm shamelessly obsessed with blush so I added some of that.
I made people in the office try it, a couple of my friends, admittedly mostly regular average Joes and women in their late 20s. Most of them said that while they could see how this could be addictive, it isn't something they're going to religiously do.
One staffer said they'd use it sometimes: 'I don't think I'd normally use it to change my features entirely because it would be fairly noticeable but maybe for dark circles.'
'I'd do it for the novelty of it, like to change my hair colour drastically maybe,' said Sonia... followed by: 'I have entered a new world, what have you guys done to me? I’m never letting someone else take a picture of me again!”
I gotta say, this blurring tool is amazing. And just speaking from the technological point, this app is very slick and user-friendly. Still, I don't think I'm obsessed just yet. If I want smoother skin, I can just use primer and work with good lighting. It's nothing make-up can't already give you. Moderation is key here.
But even concealer can't hide bumps so if I'm having a bad skin day, I'm using that blemish brush. Why not? That's not a part of me, it's just a pesky visitor. Even dark circles I say are forgivable. I refuse to acknowledge mine as a part of me. Those can be concealed and I just need to get more sleep, shush.
Like another one of my guinea pigs after using the app shared: 'The difference is so minimal that only I can tell the difference and somehow, it makes me feel better so what's the harm? I'm not deceiving people.'
Teens and tweens may be the worst victims of photo-editing apps
Though not right off the bat, it soon hit me how these apps might affect teenagers differently than they affect me.
My social media presence started with Orkut, long before Instagram and I think at that time we weren't constantly being fed this narrative of not being pretty enough, or smart enough. We've always have been made to feel insecure by unrealistic beauty standards, be it on billboards or magazine covers but not to this extent.
I understand how it could be a dangerous tool for people who casually joke about getting a lip job or have wanted a nose job since they were young (it me).
Even then, I thought maybe it's harmless. What's wrong with people doing whatever they want to do to make themselves feel good right? It's better than opting for more invasive cosmetic procedures I thought. In fact, it's even better than makeup — no chemicals involved.
Haiya made this very valid point though, one that I've also been thinking about: 'It is a reality of the world we live in and if you're confident enough to use filters to edit your photos then have the guts to own up to it as well. My issue with this social structure is that everyone knows that the life we cultivate online is fake but the insistence on portraying it as real is where the true mental break down begins.'
On the other hand, you'd think that would be comforting, that everyone knows it's fake anyway so no one takes it seriously but clearly, that's not true. Instead, one starts to feel like an imposter, envious of their own digital life, sad that they in fact did not #WakeUpLikeThis.
Back in the day, 'faking it' was frowned upon, now it's the norm. Everyone knows you're seeing the director's cut of someone's life on social media but it has become so common that people are somewhat applauded for keeping up the charade. It's like the WWE; you believed they were really fighting each other when you were young, found out it's not real yet continued watching it, in denial of the fact that it's trickery.
Experts have claimed that Instagram is the application that's possibly the worst for your mental health; studies have shown that social media use is directly linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety and sleep issues.
What Is The Meaning Of Faceted
And whose to say it doesn't lead to a spike in plastic surgery? Vice did this piece about women choosing to go under the knife to look more like their Snapchat and Instagram filtered selves. Snapchat dysmorphia is an actual word.
Maleeha Jawaid, an aesthetic dermatologist explains, 'The whole idea behind fillers, Botox etc isn’t just feeling good about yourself. It’s to look a certain way to measure up to the social media expectations. All the celebrities nowadays or influencers have gone under the knife and transformed themselves which puts pressure on non celebrity people to do the same. Or at least some of it.'
'People do walk in with bizarre expectations. For example, acne scarring, they want to get rid of it ENTIRELY and have their skin look like it does on Snapchat with a filter on. I’ve had people show me pictures and say this is the skin I want or how can we get the Korean glass skin. It’s a difficult and frustrating job because you can’t live up to the patients expectations but they’ll have someone somewhere tell them they’ll do it for them if they got 8930303 million procedures done. So they’ll keep losing money in the process and also their self esteem. Some people also bring pictures of celebrity’s nose or brows and say they want those exactly.'
Facetune For Windows 10
We need some real representation online
A Canadian beauty blogger, Samantha Ravndahl's untouched picture showed up on the Explore section on Instagram recently which was so, so refreshing to see (especially since I had been dealing with a PMS-fuelled flair-up on my chin):
This was someone being responsible. Scrolling through her grid, I saw some evidently unedited pictures, some with the original picture in a slide along with the manipulated one so people who can already guess or assume that the picture's been edited can actually register it.
We all know that what we see on social media is filtered but sometimes, you need to be reminded. It really made me wish we saw more 'real people' pictures from Pakistani influencers and celebrities, especially since it's a double-edged sword in Pakistan; you not only have to fit the Instagram ideal of beauty but also societal expectations i.e gori,patli, you know the drill.
Mindful Missy is the brainchild and passion project of Meher Tareen, a former editor of Paperazzi; an online zine and Instagram account that vows to not retouch any images in their magazine (not even the cover) and focus on one's authentic self.
'I was going through an internal shift and realised that we spend so much time on social media but there is no platform for like-minded people who are sick of investing time and energy in portraying perfect lives, when in fact our lives are anything but perfect. I wanted to be real and discuss the real issues that plague our lives.'
'I also got tired of being bombarded with heavily edited images, promoting an unrealistic and unattainable standard of beauty and wanted to create a platform that celebrates body positivity and diversity. I wanted to feature stories of inspirational real life heroes and tell the whole story including their struggles instead of glossing over them,' she explains.
While Tareen wasn't exactly what I'd call a normie — she's a socialite whose attended fashion weeks, was an editor of a lifestyle magazine — she did agree that more and more regular people are using these apps now.
'Generation after generation of beautiful girls are falling victim to a society (and many industries) that profit by creating and maintaining our insecurities. Girls turn into women, who feel inadequate and go to great lengths to fit into the narrow definition of beauty. Often turning to painful procedures like plastic surgery. The result? Everyone looks the same. One clone after another, insecure about her looks and always seeking external validation to feel good. We need to teach young girls to be confident enough to celebrate what makes them unique instead of sheepishly blending in with the crowd,' she shares.
'Even those of us who like the way we look, are repeatedly given the message that in order to be prettier we need to change ourselves, because we are not good enough the way we are.'
Haiya adds, 'The same mentality is seeping into mass consciousness and you see young girls and even adult women succumb to editing their photos because of the unhealthy pressure of looking young, flawless, poreless and effortless...which, frankly, no one is.'
For now, I think I'll just stick to using my brother's Samsung for selfies (that camera does the work for you!), I won't lie, I see the appeal. I soon discovered these apps are a slippery slope: they could give your confidence the boost it needs or take a toll on you in ways you didn't expect.
All's not lost though. Now here's the good thing about social media — you can tailor your feed for more diversity so you're no longer scrolling through a feed where everyone looks like each other. You are in charge and you can choose to hit that unfollow button.