Digital Society Sheds Virtual Weight

Regardless of age, gender or social status, everyone is beset with self-doubt concerning their personal appearance. This self-doubt motivates virtually everyone to enhance or alter their looks with distinct clothing, jewelry, makeup, diets, hairdos and so on. There is no end to the extent to which members of society will go in order to make themselves attractive. Similarly, there is no end to the manners in which people will attempt to take advantage of others’ insecurities.

An app that finds itself enveloped by issues in body image is photo editor SkineePix — designed to make people look up to 15 pounds thinner. The app works only with single headshot selfies and claims to “level the playing field” by removing the 15 pounds cameras supposedly add to a person’s figure.

Though it is intended to help its users feel better about themselves and their photos, the app only adds to the societal pressures placed on appearance. The American populace has habituated itself to an unbending standard of beauty preserved by magazines, movies, television and most other forms of media. What is worse is that there is a specific demographic being targeted: young women. Most body image research shows that women are far more disapproving and judgmental of their appearances than men. There is more value and judgment placed on the female beauty standard, meaning young women have greater pressures to maintain an attractive appearance. These pressures, combined with other factors, can have severe consequences including mental health issues and eating disorders; SkinneePix is only contributing to the problem.

There are claims that the app promotes an unhealthy body image that may motivate women to adopt unhealthy behaviors. For young girls already insecure about their physical appearances, as well as vulnerable to disorders, apps like SkinneePix could contribute to anorexic and bulimic behaviors.