When the only "feel-good" motivation comes from a fake selfie, what does it do to your self-esteem?
Susan Green and Robin J. Phillips created the app SkinneePix based on the idea that the camera adds 15 pounds. You pay $.99 on your iPhone or Android, choose a selfie (headshots only), and watch 5-15 pounds wither away as though you just spent 72 straight hours at barre method.
Green and Phillips, co-founders of the Phoenix-based company Pretty Smart Women, point out that photos aren't always accurate representations of ourselves, what with the bad angles, lighting and looking fatter than in real life. Fair. What's baffling is that they also tout the app as a get-healthy motivator. "It can be an inspiration if you are trying to eat better, move more, and get healthy," Phillips wrote to The Guardian. "It's a realistic look at what I may look like and reminder of how I might feel if I put that cookie down and go for a walk."
Okay, I really don't know about that. First off, feeling good in and of itself is a stronger motivator than seeing a doctored pic — when you feel a certain way, you remember everything associated with that feeling and try to recreate it. That's (partially) why exercise becomes addictive if you do it regularly enough, and why healthy-eating people don't crave junk food as often. But when the only "feel-good" motivation you have is a fake selfie, you might actually start to feel lousy because you don't look like that. Especially if you already have low self-esteem.
An eating disorder sufferer is not likely to use this app as a healthy tool. "I can just imagine a young woman in my office kind of obsessing on this app, and it causing real damage," says Leora Fulvio, MFT, a therapist and YourTango Expert who specializes in eating disorders. "There's no way to be happy with the results." Because the results aren't real.
The app's focus on the face can also be damaging to people with eating disorders. Fulvio says these patients often spend long times in front of the mirror looking at every little pore in their face. "I can see girls with eating disorders hyper-focused on their face, being interested in using something like this to change it," she says.
Kelly Rudolph, a life coach and YourTango expert who focuses on empowering women, agrees that apps like this are part of a bigger problem. "It's just another thing saying we're not okay the way we are. We have to make ourselves look thinner in order to be accepted."
While Photoshop or an app may solve a surface, cosmetic problem, they won't fix anyone's self-esteem, says Rudolph. "It seems like with young women, they're outwardly going to fix themselves with this app to look how they think they'd be accepted better. However, underneath, it's just going to reiterate that they don't look that way."
What do you think about this app? Tell us in the comments below.