Behind every beautiful female face lurks a hideous, wrinkly, old hag, hiding behind a malicious mask of makeup and tricking men — and fellow women — with her artificial, fraudulent allure.
At least, that’s the ostensible message of a new app, MakeApp, which exposes what women “really” look like, without their foundation, highlighter or mascara.
MakeApp is a photo filter that digitally removes — or adds, with a heavy hand — makeup from any face. Although the premise sounds benign, almost immediately, Web sites pounced on the app as a way to unmask female celebrities, taking glee in finding out that — shocker — Oscar winner Nicole Kidman has wrinkles and that the lovely, intelligent Emma Watson doesn’t have mile-long eyelashes.
Yet, MakeApp itself is imperfect.
I downloaded the app for 99 cents and tried it out on some of my own photos. It changes the lighting and bumps up the shadows, but it can’t seem to discern actual makeup on a person’s face.
For one professional portrait I took in a studio, it barely altered the image, simply darkening the lighting to look less flattering and even failing to remove all of my lipstick.
But when I ran a selfie through the app, I was shocked to find that under my thin veneer of tinted moisturizer and lip stain was a haggard woman twice my age just off a meth bender. The app took my high cheekbones and exaggerated them so much that they made the rest of my face that of a sunken cadaver. It also took out all the color of my naturally dark eyelashes and thinned out my thick eyebrows.
At first I thought it was hilarious, but the more I used it, the more I found myself doubting my sense of self. Had I been living in some kind of delusion fueled by flattering lighting and sycophantic assurances all this time? This stupid app was gaslighting me.
Not that looks are everything: I truly believe that beauty comes from within. But I also believe that no one should be shamed for wanting to, say, cover up a pimple or camouflage dark under-eye circles or just cheer oneself up with a swipe of bright red lipstick. The idea that now anyone can take a photo of any person — famous, Instagram-famous or not famous at all — and run it through this pernicious little app to make the person appear vain and ugly is petty, cruel and horrifying. Not to mention sexist.
Women have to suffer through enough: less pay, less respect, more harassment. Do we really need to be humiliated for wanting to look like our best selves?