I Had a Stranger FaceTune My Body, and It Was Freaky

I'm no stranger to a photo filter. In fact, after learning from Jessica Alba that the "beauty" filter on Instagram Stories makes for the perfect selfie, I've become captive to its skin-smoothing and brightening prowess. I've also shamelessly gone into Photoshop to remove a blemish, smooth under-eye bags, and the like. But before this past April, I'd never used FaceTune. I hadn't even downloaded it to my phone. Admittedly, with just surface-level knowledge of the app, I thought it was intended for reshaping and altering your looks in a pretty major way. I'd seen enough celebrity photo fail headlines where the vertical pattern in the wallpaper had gone wavy from cinching a body part, and given that I'm certainly not a photo expert, I was terrified I'd fall victim to obvious 'tuning. But more so than being afraid of being called out on account of poor photo editing, the act of digitally altering my body to look different than it is in real life didn't sit well with me. If I make a body part slimmer in a photo, even if it's just a tiny alteration, that's an inaccurate depiction of what I look like when I'm standing in front of you. Reshaping my thigh is not the same as smoothing a pimple. My thigh is my silhouette; it's part of my body that I walk around with every day. But a pimple? That's a temporary clogged pore that I'd rather exclude from my photo. 

Here's the thing: The world of Instagram is competitive and crippling. There's the constant question of whether you're doing enough, posting enough, getting enough likes, looking pretty enough. Enough is enough. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't falling to the pressure, and on a recent trip to Cabo, I had a moment of weakness: My friends and I were snapping rapid swimsuit pictures like we were shooting a magazine spread, and I wasn't happy with the way my body was translating. "I can send it to my friend, Sarah, and have her work her magic," my friend Taylor tells me. "She can literally make you look 10 pounds thinner." This went against everything I stood for, but I was curious if she could touch me up just so that no one would be the wiser. She was a FaceTune savant, allegedly. I toyed with the idea for a few minutes before finally obliging. "Okay, send it over."

Within 10 minutes, she submitted her work. That was fast, I thought, but I was excited to be on the receiving end of a potentially flattering picture. But what was sent back made my stomach turn.