By Lauren Sloss
I guess the Valencia filter just wasn’t cutting it for Susan Green and Robin J. Phillips anymore. After a vacation with friends, the two were inspired to create SkinneePix, an iPhone app that allows you to to “lose” five to fifteen pounds from your selfies.
Green explained to the Los Angeles Times that their “a-ha” moment involved watching friends take seflies, and noticing how upset they became with how they looked in the photos. “It's not that they hated their body, they just didn’t like how they looked in the picture,” she said. The app is available for $.99, and is the first one the two have created under their company, Pretty Smart Women.
My initial urge here is to viciously tear into this company's name (particularly in the context of SkinneePix) and the contradictory nature of Green’s quote – not to mention the totally effed up image problems that inspired the app. But it also seems like Green and Phillips have some good intentions here. Their creation story, and even the app’s tagline (“It’s Easy. Simple. Fun. Our little secret.”) speaks to the “just us girls attitude” the two are putting forth. By relating it to a personal experience they shared with friends, they're trying to create an entertaining solution to an insecurity that many people, particularly many women, have.
And okay, no one always likes the way they look in photos. A bad angle, an awkward candid moment, unfortunate fluorescent lighting — we’ve all been there. But that doesn’t change the fact that the underlying message of this “skinny filter” is that you will look better minus five pounds – or fifteen. You will like the way you look once you magically drop some weight.
Slapping “skinny” on something and calling it a game is a slippery slope. Declaring that skinnier means better, and more photogenic, is adding to a deeply ingrained, deeply problematic ideal of the female body that our culture can’t seem to shake. SkinneePix comes with an implicit negativity about the untouched image that your standard photo filters tend to avoid. Feeling beautiful shouldn’t necessitate forging a thinner photo.
Top photo from Thinkstock, middle photo from SkinneePix