SkinneePix App Stirs Debate Over ‘Healthy’ Body Image

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SkinneePix, a new app that digitally alters selfies to make users appear up to 15 pounds slimmer, is raising concerns about body image.

The makers of SkinneePix argue their app simply helps combat bad lighting and close-up angles that cause selfies to add weight to photos, while critics are worried the app could promote an unhealthy body image and lead to serious issues, like eating disorders.

“SkinneePix makes your photos look good and helps you feel good,” reads the app’s description on the iTunes store. “It’s not complicated. No one needs to know. It’s our little secret.”

Phoenix-based Pretty Smart Women LLC, co-owned by Sue Green and Robin J. Phillips, created the app.

“Cameras add additional weight to photos, and when you’re taking a selfie, you’re also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn’t an accurate representation of themselves,” Green told Reuters.

Lauren Dickson, a social worker in the eating disorders and addiction clinic at the Centre of Addction and Mental Health in Toronto, fears SkinneePix could contribute to young adults developing eating disorders.

“The media obviously has some effect on people developing eating disorders, but it’s not the only variable. It’s one of many factors,” Dickson told Reuters. “The majority of young girls wouldn’t develop an eating disorder because of an app like this, but some might be more vulnerable and it could contribute.”

Green and Phillips say that their app is merely designed to portray an accurate representation of a person’s looks and that in many cases, SkinneePix has actually inspired users to lose weight in a healthy fashion.

In a Q&A on the Pretty Smart Women website, a user asks, “SkinneePix is your first app. Why did you decide to tackle something that some people might see as controversial?”

Phillips responded, “Well, first of all we don’t necessarily look at it as ‘controversial’ because we are just removing what the 10 to 15 pounds a camera can add because of bad lighting, shadows, bad lenses, to name a few challenges. People told us what they want, they want the pictures to be a real representation of what they look like, and that is what we have tried to give them. It is as simple as that. We did not build this app to address body image (Since it doesn’t alter the body) but if it gets people talking in the right direction about taking their health seriously, well then we are all for that.”

Green says the app has inspired her to take the “SkinneePix Challenge.” In a blog post entitled “Getting Healthy With My Selfie,” she says she used the app to take 15 pounds off of herself.

“When I took 15 pounds off I was astounded,” Green wrote. “Not only was it a small amount of ‘weight,’ but I found that I felt like I looked better. And I thought to myself, hey, ‘I could lose 15 pounds and look like that, not such a big deal.’ Now, I need to lose more than 15 pounds not because someone called me fat or that I feel bad about myself, but because I have reached a point where I want to feel healthier about my body.”

SkinneePix costs $0.99 and is currently available on the iTunes Store for Apple devices. It will soon also be available on the Google Play Store for Android devices.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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Do you think the SkinneePix app promotes an unhealthy body image, or is it all in good fun? Would you purchase and use the app? Join the conversation on the ABC 8News – WRIC Facebook page!

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