Everyone loves to take photos, but not everyone wants their photos to be retouched and have filters applied — especially if they are not the ones controlling it.
Health coach, author, and blogger Mel Wells called out Samsung on this very point. She recently bought a new Samsung phone and noticed that every one of the selfies she took was airbrushed. So, in a powerful Instagram post, Wells showed a side-by-side comparison of one photo where she had freckles and one where her face was completely smooth. The post was accompanied by an insightful caption about society's unfair beauty standards.
Wow Samsung. When you get a brand new phone and go to take a selfie and realise that the default setting on the front camera is automatically on "Beauty level 8" which evidently means: seriously airbrushed face. This means everyone who gets a new Samsung phone and flicks the front camera on is automatically being told "Hi, we're Samsung and we think you look way better when we automatically airbrush your selfies for you, x 8!!" Thanks @samsungmobile for the vote of confidence, I think I'll keep my freckles and imperfections since this is how I look in 3D and this is how all my friends see me in real life. I hope young girls are buying iPhones instead of Samsungs. (Wait, do iPhones do this too?) To clarify - no apps here - this is Samsung's DEFAULT FRONT CAMERA SETTING
The setting on the phone can be turned off, but Wells wrote a follow-up post how this is not the important point. She is concerned about the negative message it sends to people when a phone company has a default setting to automatically airbrush your photos.
Wells writes in the second post, "Of course you can turn the setting off/on as you please. The point I was making is that when you first buy a brand new handset, this setting is already automatically applied to the front camera and to beauty level 8. So already assuming the consumer wants to be airbrushed. I wanted to raise this point as I think it's one thing for us the consumer to decide to edit our photo after its been taken, but it's another thing for the manufacturer to do it for us before we've even taken the shot."
"The more we are told that we are supposed to look flawless, the more unhappy we will feel in our own skin — because none of us are flawless!"
"On the contrary — it is our imperfections that make us most beautiful. Social media comparison has a massive impact on anxiety levels in young people and half the problem is we are being presented with flawless airbrushed photos constantly."
Modern beauty standards already have us thinking that we have to airbrush and alter ourselves into something we're not to look beautiful. As Wells points out, it's one thing if someone chooses to airbrush their photos, but it is something very different when the message is coming from a company indirectly encouraging us to do it.
What we do to our photos, if anything, should be our choice. It should not be dictated by society's beauty ideal, the media, companies or other people.
A Plus has reached out to Wells for comment.