Critics have defined modern youths as the “self-obsessed generation“, and their analysis seems justified. Selcas/Selfies seems to be exponentially on the rise as the internet is increasingly becoming the first point of contact, due to the growth of social networks and dating sites. As more people are using these self-taken images to judge each other, it is natural to want to produce the best photo to represent oneself.
In Korea’s competitive and image conscious society it was quite common for Photoshop to be regularly used. Netizens would upload self-taken or candid photos on to their computer, and manipulate them with software. This produced the ‘Ulzzang‘ era where beautiful Selcas would gain immense online popularity.
It is important to make an instant good impression, which is the reason why make-up and plastic surgery is such a booming industry; Photoshop is the virtual version. It is easy to criticise the users of Photoshop, stating that it is used to mislead others, but it is fair that everyone is using it considering that adverts and media images are all professionally touched up. These images are consumed daily in a consumerist and capitalist society. Isn’t it natural that the consumers want to emulate that beauty for themselves? Seeing that everything is modified in one way or another, the public is merely embracing and utilizing this fact. Is there a problem with giving this power to the people? The ability to Photoshop selfies has become easier through beauty apps, allowing faces to be instantly modified.
While Western photo editing smartphone apps mainly add filters, Korean beauty editing apps have developed to easily change facial features. The apps are extremely popular because they are much easier to use than actual Adobe Photoshop, which requires knowledge and skill. In comparison to other cultures where the beauty standard may be more diverse, Korea has an image of the ideal beauty. The apps make it possible to conform to ideal beauty standards. The beauty Photoshop apps imitate the ‘liquify’ and ‘bloat’ tool on Photoshop, allowing users to drag and enlarge the image components. Eyes can be made bigger, noses made smaller, jaws made sharper and cheeks slimmer.
Now that the apps have released the ability to edit faces to the public, one could assume that the number of edited images have increased. Those who didn’t have access to the software, now can download it for free. But, where is the line between touching up and complete manipulation? The overuse of these apps does have a darker side, because it is feeding the need for approval from physical appearance, and could be encouraging vanity. It could get addictive and become a temporary ego boost. Many people are aware of it, as it is so prevalent.
Aspiring to a beauty standard is human nature, and manipulating photos is certainly not an evil. All photos are deceptive, whether it is the lights or angles used to capture something aesthetically. Gone are the days where good photos were limited to expensive DSLRs and photographers, now everyone can create a high quality images with just their phones. In a culture where other people’s perceptions are crucial, it is no wonder that this has created generations upon generations of self-conscious citizens who want to erase their physical flaws in a given opportunity.
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