Is It Ever OK To Facetune? An Investigation

I talk a lot about Photoshop and Facetune fails, but let me make one thing clear. I’m not against photo editing. It’s hard to take the perfect photo, even if you’re super skilled at it (which, I definitely am not). Sometimes there’s too much clutter in the background, the shadows are weird, or some dumbass walked behind your picture at the worst possible moment. There are plenty of reasons to edit a photo. What I consider a fail, though, is when people alter their photos to the point of giving themselves a different face, body, or exaggerating features to an insane level (Facetune huge alien eyes, I’m looking at you). Not only does it not even look like you, in which case, why are you even posting a photo, but it also contributes to the very toxic and unrealistic standard our society places on what we should look like. It’s bad enough with everyone trying to look like a supermodel, when they’re all Amazonian and weigh seven pounds. Must we now remove ribs via photo editing to create an even more impossible standard?

So, this is of course just my opinion. You can do whatever the f*ck you want in your photos: super skinny waist, bug eyes, I don’t really actually care. But I definitely will point out to anyone who will listen that that sh*t is not reality, especially if you’re a celebrity and role model. That said, here’s what I think is considered totally acceptable editing.


In approximately 99% of photos, your lighting is not going to be perfect. That’s because it’s hard to coordinate real life to work with your angles unless you’re in a photoshoot space with perfect lighting and those things that bounce light and whatnot. Can you tell I don’t know anything about photography? Anyway. Sometimes the lighting is too dark, your eyes look like black holes, or your face is too bleached and you’re noseless like all of our old Myspace pictures. Filters or lighting changes don’t change your actual face (although some celebs like to pretend it’s just the lighting that caused them to suddenly have no wrinkles. Sure, Jan). Since filters still look like you, I think using them is fun and can enhance your pictures. I don’t use Snapchat, but even the filters that change your face don’t bother me because they’re obviously a joke. Although a LOT of girls who used the flower crown one and tried to crop it so you couldn’t see the filter, didn’t seem to realize that’s not what actual people look like. But overall, filters are okay.

Skin Problems


Listen, I’ve had cystic acne for my entire life. I’ve had backne, assne, chestne, and everywhere else. I don’t really care now that I’m old, but in high school I thought everyone was staring at my horrible skin all the time. So, I get it. When it comes to skin problems—acne, redness, bruising, sunburn, etc.—I don’t mind if they’re edited out. If you’re airbrushing every wrinkle to the point where you look like your skin is made of plastic, that’s another issue. Acne comes and goes, but your face still looks like your face—pretending to be 30 years younger, not so much. However, unless it’s in really important photos (for like, a wedding or event or a magazine), I really appreciate when people leave their skin untouched. We all have scars, zits, stretch marks, and cellulite, and it’s cool when people embrace it. Like when Kylie showed her big scar on her GQ cover. More of that, please.

Hair Problems

Unless I get a professional blowout, my hair never does what it’s supposed to do. If you take a photo and you have flyaway hairs all over the place, hair sticking up in the back, wind blowing it in a crazy way, whatever—fine, just fix it. Again, fixing minor things like that don’t change you into a different person or project a social media lie. If you’re having a bad hair day but love the picture, touch it up if you feel that insecure about it. You can bet if my brightly colored hair is badly faded and I need a cute picture, I will totally color it back in with editing. Hey, that’s what it’s supposed to look like, I just didn’t get to redo it yet! Fixing your hair is just not the same thing to me as giving yourself a scary skinny waist, so again, it’s kosher in my book.

Fabric Laying

Much like hair, sometimes clothes just don’t look right in the photo. My friend took a photo of me once wearing this super cute orange jumpsuit that, for some reason when I was sitting down, bunched up and made me look pregnant. Not just a little pregnant, but extremely pregnant. We just cropped that part out. If you’ve got a strange crease, your shirt tag is hanging out, something is laying weird on your body, or you have camel toe, fixing it is totally reasonable. This is different than being a size 8 and Photoshopping yourself into size 0 jeans. That would be categorized under “toxic” for me. But anything else doesn’t change what you really look like, so I’m all for it.

Environmental Editing

You can’t always control your background. This is probably the edit I do most often. You take the perfect selfie and then you realize you can totally see your stack of Amazon boxes you’ve been meaning to take out to the recycling for two weeks in the back. Ughhh. If your background sucks or someone accidentally photobombed you, edit them out. Your background doesn’t present a false image to anyone or create unhealthy standards, so do whatever the hell you want with it.

Do you agree with my acceptable edits? What else you consider a normal use of editing? Where’s the line for when things become toxic? Let me know in the comments!

Images: Amanda Vick / Unsplash; Giphy (6)

Holly Hammond
Holly Hammond
Holly is an ex-sorority girl with the personality of Elle Woods meets Wednesday Addams. She is an artist, writer, animator, and part-time magician. Her parents are v proud but also like to ask her when she's going to get a real job. Buy art from her so she can pay for her bulldog's dermatologist.