Yesterday evening whilst enjoying a beer outside I took a few moments to scroll through my Instagram feed and catch up with the Instagram stories my friends had posted. There I was, enjoying my evening in the sun scrolling away when I noticed that in-between these stories one advert kept rearing its ugly head; an advert for an app called Facetune.
The advert stated that I needn’t worry anymore about how I look and that if I wanted the ‘perfect’ nose, lips, thighs and bum that I should look no further and download Facetune. The advert went on to say that no selfie or photo is complete without Facetune and proceeded to highlight examples of men and women altering their face with the tools in the app. Watching this, I became sad, infuriated and appalled all at the same time.
Why? Because the world in which we live in today is increasingly and frighteningly obsessed with aesthetic. Young people today, including myself, find ourselves under immense pressure to look a certain way, exacerbated by television shows like ‘Love Island’ which aim to normalise six packs, thigh gaps and lip fillers. Away from the onslaught of ‘perfection’ that we see on our television screens we then face the tirade of adverts on our phone that seek to tell us that our noses are too big and our lips are too small.
That being said, I decided I would download it and see for myself just how much Facetune could really alter my face. I was astounded with the results- and not in a good way. I could completely change the shape of my jaw, chin, eyes, nose, brows and hair, I could whiten my teeth and smooth my skin to be ‘blemish free’ – literally anything and everything could be altered under the surgical knife that my fingers on my screen had replaced. Now I am a relatively confident 23-year-old. Yes, I have days where I worry about my appearance and think that I could lose a few pounds or sometimes wish my nose was a different shape. But overall, I am happy and content in the way I look.
Just imagine the damage apps like this can do on people who aren’t confident in their appearance. Will it help them? No of course it won’t. Why? Because apps like this capitalise and feed on the insecurities of individuals and twist them into an advantage. If you are struggling with body image and self-esteem, adverts which encourage you to fundamentally alter the way you look are undeniably damaging, feeding you a narrative that to be accepted you need to change. Instead of celebrating individual beauty, apps like Facetune encourage us to eradicate our unique and individual features in favour of a beauty mould prescribed by society.
Oh, did I mention that the age range on this app is for anyone aged four and over? Yes, you read that right. The minimum age for this app is four years old. A child therefore can download this app and start altering their face beyond recognition. What does this teach children other than saying that the way they look isn’t good enough? That to be beautiful, they need to change their appearance? That they shouldn’t celebrate the way they look and their uniqueness? These are the lessons apps like Facetune teach children and young adults alike. They don’t teach you how to love yourself, or how to value you your own beauty, they teach us to hate ourselves and fear the way we look lest we be considered ‘different.’ Is being different so bad? To Facetune it is. To be beautiful in this day and age for many, means looking like the person these apps want you to be rather than who you actually are.
And this is why apps like Facetune need to be banned. They need to be banned so that children, adolescents and young adults can all celebrate their individuality without the fear of looking different. They need to be banned so that self-love is encouraged not self-loathing. They need to be banned so that the narrative can be changed into one of self-acceptance and acceptance and love for others.
Now, the sun is shining and after that rant, I need another beer!