The Selfie – Editing Phenomenon

‘Likes’ are a social media commodity, feeding egos and drawing attention to our latest upload. Social media has revolutionized the way the individual portrays himself or herself to the world. It can be an obsession for perfection.

Through social media we have become concerned with the presentation of our lives rather than the experience. Instagram is used by 300 million people everyday, sharing their lives through a series of pictures. In today’s world we are all a product and like any brand we implement tactics to market our product, ourselves.

Status reveals “one’s value and importance in the eyes of the world” (Botton, cited in Marwick 2013, p. 74).

This has led to the introduction of secondary applications such as Perfect 365, Face Tune and Airbrush that change the way we look through a variety of editing options including: skin perfecting, smile and teeth enhancement, facial details, reshaping, removal of blemishes, dark circles, hair salon, defocusing and effects that go far beyond the standard filters found on previously popular applications. According to Statista, 2.3% of the applications on the Apple App Store are categorised as photo and video related. Observing the top 100 charts of the Apple app store, 5% of free applications are photo editing and enhancing programs, compared with the paid chart which features 10% of these programs.


Photo credit: Statista


Photo credit: Hannah Swan

Above is an example of the application Airbrush in action. As you can see their is a strong difference between the before and after. Firstly, all of my skin has been smoothed out to remove any lines and pimples located on the forehead and chest of the before have been blemished. My eyes have also been filtered to enhance the colour of them and increase the pop of blue and my teeth have also been whitened. The problem with this before and after is that to someone viewing this photo on Instagram the individual does not look like this in the offline world. The viewer would then see the pimples, lines underneath the eyes, teeth that are not beaming with and eyes slightly less blue. In other words, the unedited self.

By changing the way we look through these applications, we market ourselves for social approval (increased ‘likes’) but lose our unique features (Sofranova, 2015). Within every camera roll is now multiple images of the same selfie slightly altered in order to post the most flawless of them all: the one that will attract the most likes. As individuals strive to obtain likes and social approval the authentic usage of the application is lost.

Is the modification and enhancing of our selves online an emerging social media practice or is it going too far?


Marwick, AE 2013, Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, Yale University Press.

Marwick, A 2015, ‘Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy’, Public Culture, vol.27 no.1, pp.137-160

Raja, N & Kapoor, A 2013, ‘Instagram for Instafame;, Business Today,vol. 22, no.20, pp.116-118, Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 1 June 2016

Safronova, V 2015, ‘On Fake Instagram, a Chance to Be Real’, The New York Times, 18 November, viewed 8 May, <

2016, Most popular Apple App Store categories in March 2016, by share of available apps, viewed 2June, 2016 < >