Your Phone Camera Just Got A Lot Creepier

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
Let's cop to something right off the bat: We've all likely used some type of photo-editing app on our selfies at one point or another. Maybe it was just a quick tweak of the contrast on Instagram, or perhaps it was a full-blown retouching on Perfect365. The nice thing about these apps is that we can choose whether to use them. But, Samsung's latest Galaxy Ace 4 apparently has one of them built right into its front-facing camera as a default. You can turn it off, but it's not immediately obvious how, and plenty of people can't figure it out. The technology, called "Beauty Face," retouches your photos immediately after you take them. What's so creepy about an instant tweak if we're all doing it anyway? For starters, Samsung's promotional video for it claims: "With Beauty Face mode, you become a little more beautiful." I'm sorry, but I didn't realize that it was my wireless provider's job to fix my face. What's more is that you can't control the intensity of Beauty Face's edits. You can't choose how many of your blemishes it retouches, or how much it "thins your face" (yes, it does that). "Beautiful," from what we've read about the mode's features, means 1) skinnier, and 2) airbrushed poreless. Well, that isn't what "beautiful" means to everyone. Some people feel gorgeous with a few lines and wrinkles — and that's rad.  As Chris Stokel-Walker, the writer of the Medium piece, brilliantly points out, the phone he bought isn't expensive. In fact, it's the perfect "starter" phone for a teenager or an "easy" phone for someone who's not so, shall we say, technologically advanced. My mother has a hard time searching Safari on her iPhone most of the time. I'm not really sure she (or my young cousin, for that matter) could figure out how to turn off Beauty Face. You could argue that this is just a natural progression in the whole digital-age perfection game. But, a camera like this will only breed more insecurity — requiring your photos to be digitally manipulated, rather than offering it as an option to play with. That autonomy is taken away from you, and you're basically told that you're supposed to look a certain way. If you want to edit your photos, go for it — we're all entitled to our vanity and should be able to put out whatever version of ourselves we want people to see. If you don't, that's okay, too. But, don't allow your technology to tell you how to look. Because, the only person who can decide that is you. (Medium)

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