Woman editing smartphone photo

Photo apps are not your friend

If you want to look better in pictures, there's an app for that. From smoothing wrinkles, to brightening skin, many phone apps are fixing beauty problems with a simple click in just seconds. And though these apps may be tempting to create that perfect photo, staying away from these "quick fixes" may actually be better for your self-esteem.

With “selfie” being the most popular word of 2013, it's no wonder that photo retouching apps were on the rise last year. One of the most popular free apps in 2013 was Perfect365 — a "one-tap makeover" allowing you to rid yourself of wrinkles, remove under eye bags and diminish pimples. Perfect365 isn't the only app promising magazine-quality photos. There's Pixtr, a professional beauty laboratory called Visage Lab and FaceTune, which allows you change facial features and bone structure.

But while 2013 was all about the photo apps and airbrushing, 2014 seems to be taking a different turn. American Eagle recently released their Aerie Real lingerie campaign — featuring all non-airbrushed women in their photos. Though the models are still thin, young and very beautiful, it's still a step forward from overly photoshopped pictures we are used to seeing in magazines.

Aerie Real no photoshop campaign
Photo courtesy of Aerie

"We left beauty marks; we left tattoos; what you see is really what you get with our campaign," said Aerie brand representative Jenny Altman. "They are still models; they're still gorgeous; they just look a little more like the rest of us. We're hoping to break the mold… we hope by embracing this that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty."

American Eagle isn't the only brand taking a stand for "natural" beauty. Dove recently celebrated 10 years of their Real Beauty campaign by releasing a documentary short film called Selfie. The goal of the film is for women to redefine their beauty standards using self-portraits.

"The way women are defining beauty today is changing dramatically, and social media has much to do with the change," said the documentary filmmaker Cynthia Wade. "Now, we have the ability to photograph the beauty we see in our friends and ourselves. When we share these diverse images on our social networks, we are taking personal ownership and truly redefining."

So when faced with the option to edit or not to edit, here's why you should put down the app, and just say no.


They can give you a skewed view of beauty

One of the biggest reasons to stay away from photo retouching apps is they create an unrealistic view of how we think we're supposed to look. Wrinkle-free, not a blemish in sight, all your beauty problems are gone — which is not the case if you look in the mirror. This skewed view of beauty can lead to insecurity and a lack of self-acceptance.


They can be addicting

Run a picture of yourself through a photo retouching app and you may not be able to stop. By using these apps, you raise the bar in terms of beauty, and your unedited photos won't seem good enough anymore. This can of course lead to more edits, more photoshopping and a vicious cycle of trying to fit into that new standard of perfection.


It's false advertising

Let's get real — no one looks as good in real life as they do in their selfies. Not even celebrities. If you're constantly sharing with the world (or at least just your Instagram followers) only edited photos, you're advertising a fake version of yourself. And being real is so much better than being fake — just ask anyone who has tried margarine after butter.

Bottom line

Sure, it may seem like a good idea to edit your photos until you look like you're made of plastic, but in the long run, it may lead to you feeling bad about yourself once you wake up and realize that you do have lines, pimples and bags under your eyes, and guess what? That's OK! So instead, say no to edits, and embrace your photos — flaws and all.

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Comments on "Girls, just say no to photo editing apps"

Donna January 29, 2014 | 10:22 PM

This article caught my eye. With so many websites and apps offering to do 'photo makeover' for girls, the writer clearly expressed views from both sides well. There are a lot of girls I know who use photo apps whenever they post a 'selfie' to their Instagram or Facebook accounts. It's true that not everyone who has a 'prettified' selfie actually does not look like that in real life. I'm 20 and a college student. I'm part of the minority who don't use photo apps to make myself 'beautiful' just to boost my self-esteem. I know my flaws and I accept them. So whenever there are moments when a picture has to be taken and I just give my best smile. If come the occassion that a zit might pop up in an unwanted event, I just let it be then it would also dry and fade. I don't use these apps. Majority of the girls should stop aiming for the flawfless beauty. Because we were made to be perfect with flaws.. It's just a matter of acceptance.

Grace January 23, 2014 | 9:49 AM

I disagree here. If I photoshop a zit or some shine off my face, I'm not drastically altering my appearance. I'm simply giving myself peace of mind. It actually boosts my self-esteem.

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