Earlier this year, an app called SkinneePix became available for purchase in the app store for $0.99. It was developed by a company called Pretty Smart Women, a team formed by Robin J. Phillips and Susan Green after they took a vacation with friends that resulted in a lot of selfies that they didn’t like because of how their bodies looked. The app was created to slim down selfies by removing up to 15 pounds from the user’s facial features. I find it ironic that their company name is Pretty Smart Women, when the creation of this app is a complete step in the wrong direction when it comes to breaking out of the body image box that society and the media try so hard to keep us in. It’s not smart — it’s destructive.
I see two major problems with SkinneePix: One, the creators argue that it “helps make your photos look good and helps you feel good.” But how can you possibly feel good when you spend time manipulating a photo to make yourself appear thinner, and then you look into the mirror and see that you’re still the same size, and still insecure about it? The second problem is that for those who use the app who are already at a healthy weight, but have serious body distortions or an eating disorder, it makes their faces look alarmingly thin and encourages dangerous weight loss habits.
According to Phillips’ responses to a Q & A on the Pretty Smart Women blog, they “hope it enables [users] to feel more confident about posting their selfies online … people told us what they want, they want the pictures to be a real representation of what they look like, and that is what we have tried to give them.”
This statement is very troubling to me, because the app helps create a false representation of those who use it. I’m not sure how the term “real” fits into this at all. This is parallel to how celebrities and models are manipulated by Photoshop in order to look “better.” We all know that airbrush and reshaping aren’t real, so how is the function of SkinneePix any different? I do not think we should be looking to an app like this for a source of confidence, when we can find it in more authentic ways like putting together a personal fitness plan or learning and perfecting a new, ideally difficult, skill.
In regards to the controversy surrounding the app that has been highlighted by media sources such as PRNewser and Bustle, and scrutinized by many smartphone users, Phillips says “we don’t necessarily look at it as ‘controversial,’ because we are just removing the 10 to 15 pounds a camera can add because of bad lighting, shadows, bad lenses, to name a few challenges.”
It’s true that different types of lenses may morph us in certain ways, but I would argue that those are relatively difficult to notice and that it’s more apparent with television filming and professional photo shoots. When people take selfies, more often than not they are using their smartphones. I have honestly never seen people look 10-15 pounds heavier in their smartphone photos versus their real-life selves. I believe the reasoning provided by the creators is just an attempt to glamorize the app’s sole purpose, which stems from insecurity: to make you look thinner with zero effort.
Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter by @HaleighMcGill.