The Distortion Game: Why Smartphone Cameras Retouch Our Selfies

A life 2022
The Distortion Game: Why Smartphone Cameras Retouch Our Selfies
The Distortion Game: Why Smartphone Cameras Retouch Our Selfies

Video: The Distortion Game: Why Smartphone Cameras Retouch Our Selfies

Video: The science behind your terrible selfies 2022, November
Anonim
Image
Image

Dasha Tatarkova

A few weeks ago blogger and health coach Mel Wells posted a selfie from her new Samsung Galaxy S7 on Instagram. As it turned out, in the standard settings of the front camera by default there was a "beauty filter", turned on at position eight. It gave a very strong blur to the texture of the skin, so there were no freckles, no moles, no acne, no other details. For comparison, Wells posted another photo, this time without any retouching or filters. To continue taking selfies without "improvements", the girl had to specifically disable the "prettiness" setting that the smartphone imposed on her.

In the caption to the photo, Wells addressed the manufacturing company: “It turns out that anyone who turns on the smartphone, in fact, hears in his address: 'Hello, we are Samsung and we believe that you will be much more beautiful if we photoshopped your selfie for you. “. Thank you @samsungmobile for shaming me for my looks. " In the context of the growing conversation about body positivity and love for one's appearance, regardless of whether it meets imposed standards or not, Wells's story looks like wildness. The blogger's post received 1,500 likes and hundreds of supportive comments, and the news feeds were filled with the headlines "Samsung thinks you are ugly."

Samsung themselves responded to Wells' indignation in a dry and bureaucratic manner: they say, the company offers users of its devices many settings and many buyers love the beauty filter. At the same time, Samsung did not comment on the fact that the “beauty” setting is in smartphones by default. Obviously, they wanted the best - it turned out clearly how. In its policy, Samsung is not alone: ​​the mobile phones of the Chinese electronic giant Xiaomi also blur and highlight the image, as if the skin was rubbed with an eraser, and in Xiaomi phones this option cannot always be turned off.

It is not difficult to understand what made the Korean Samsung think that the photographs of their customers are vitally necessary to be smartened up. In Asia, and in South Korea especially, the cult of silk-smooth, snow-white skin, large eyes and a pointed oval of the face continues to reign. Girls lie down on the operating table for plastic surgery as calmly as they go to an appointment with a beautician. In the patriarchal Korean world, which almost does not recognize the diversity of beauty, such a smartphone function is seen as a good service, and not an interference with personal space.

Image
Image

Since the inception of the idea of ​​portrait, formats and tools have imposed limitations on us. Having at our disposal the means to show ourselves to the world, we deliberately sought to capture ourselves in the most favorable light. The portraits were drawn in a “good” perspective, in the best clothes, and adjusted their appearance in accordance with the client's requests. Photos from the very beginning were subject to retouching, be it daguerreotypes or modern digital ones, run through Photoshop. Even selfies are almost never untreated - most likely, they went through some kind of filter. What we focus on in doing this - the dominant tastes of society or personal preferences - is a separate and complex issue. Much more important is the other: do we edit our portrait ourselves? Because as soon as this choice is made for us, a crime against free will begins.

One could write off Samsung's beauty filter on the company's desire to compensate for the imperfection of the device. Obviously, the front-facing cameras of smartphones are still mostly weak, and blurring the image may be an attempt to defeat unnecessary noise and improve the overall quality of the photo. However, all this is only the technical side of the problem. We do edit our portraits and gratefully accept the advice of the genre's masters - from Kim Kardashian and Tess Holliday - on how to take the “perfect” selfie.Another thing is that, putting additional efforts for the "perfect" selfie, a person decides for himself what position to stand in and under what light to be photographed. The more personal freedom in choosing our appearance, the more freedom we have internal - whatever the circumstances, we have the right to independently decide what to do with them.

The idea of ​​separate beauty applications designed to "enhance" the hero of a photograph is not new. We ourselves have tested similar ones for Android and iOS - and the results in most cases were frightening, first of all, by how stereotyped ideas about female appearance are embedded in the application settings. In Asia, there is a real boom in improving your appearance on selfies. There are many individual applications in the local market that should take care of the “perfect” complexion and skin texture. The same trend goes on: long before the advent of selfies, photo booths called purikura were incredibly popular in Japan. Taking photos, applying filters and captions to them in such machines is standard entertainment, and not only for teenagers. But every year there are more and more features that can be edited, so the purikura automata suggest making the eyes larger, and the face only more plastic. So the imposition of standards creeps up not only on phones, but also on the streets, and all together this is a symptom of a truly global problem.

Image
Image

The story with the camera of the new Samsung smartphone clearly shows where the dictates of the "ideal" appearance are leading. You can treat body positivity as you like, but love for your body, or at least the path to this love, is without exaggeration one of the most important ideas of our time. Beauty standards have changed throughout the history of human existence and, most likely, will change more than once. Fashion and trends are a normal reaction to the world's diversity, but it is also important how adequately we treat them. To put on a pedestal any appearance is to deny the very diversity from which it was born.

The Samsung beauty filter is dangerous in the first place because it makes everyone equally "beautiful" and does not bother to give users the choice to just be themselves. Today Samsung Galaxy S7 is one of the most popular phones in the world. This means that hundreds of millions of people from all over the world will turn on their new smartphone, take selfies, see the retouched image and take it for granted. For advertising, this is a common pick-up trick: to make the consumer believe in his inferiority so that he buys a product that will "help" him. However, the very existence of the approach does not make it legitimate. Manipulation remains manipulation that must be realized in order to change the narrative. After all, the longer artificial standards reign, the more they become fixed.

This imposition of "ideality" occurs on all fronts: from sexist advertising to the image of the family in the media. However, the more popular these completely unnecessary ideals, not invented by us, the more unhappy we ourselves become. With each generation, the number of people, and especially women, who are dissatisfied with their bodies, is growing - there were no such figures yet 20, 30 years ago. This leads to depression, eating disorders and many other disorders - in general, baseless dissatisfaction with oneself. So let us decide for ourselves whether to retouch our acne or not - and if so, then only of our own free will, when it will make us better, not worse.

Popular by topic