Almost everyone who uses Instagram ― celebrities included ― edits profile photos in one way or another, whether it’s with filters or editing programs. But some stars go so far as to edit photos that had already been edited.
Their digital handiwork hasn’t fooled everyone, though, especially not the individual behind celebface, an Instagram account that aims to highlight the truth behind the glossy celebrity photos that flood our feeds.
“This is not a page for hate. This is the page for people who use Instagram every day and think celebrities are perfect,” said the account owner, who told HuffPost via direct message that she’s a 24-year-old named Anna. “But nobody is perfect. Celebrities are ordinary people.”
Anna’s account, which currently has about 613,000 followers, features plenty of images of celebrities, including “then and now” comparisons and extreme close-ups. But her most mesmerizing posts are the short clips showing how individuals edit their (sometimes already edited) photos.
For instance, take this selfie of Kylie Jenner. On the left is the image as Jenner posted it on her Instagram feed, and on the right is the image as it appeared on Snapchat:
At first glance, the images look nearly identical, save for the crop.
But when they’re mashed into a GIF ― as seen at the top of this story ― you can see a few minor tweaks: In the Instagram feed version, Jenner’s eyes are lightened, her lash line is ever-so-slightly slanted upward and the bottom half of her hair and face have been pulled in
Then there’s the below image of Bella Hadid, showing an Allure cover that was no doubt edited before being published. On the left is the version Hadid posted on her feed, and on the right is the version posted by the photographer, Daniel Jackson.
Again, to the naked eye, the two images look the same.
But after seeing the two images back and forth, you’ll notice that Hadid’s version features the same slight eyelash lift as Jenner’s, and the back of her neck has been straightened:
On celebface, there’s plenty more where these came from. The account, which is about 2½ years old, has also featured celebrities such as Rita Ora, Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande and Kendall Jenner. Anna said she generally turns to Google to find her photos but noted that her followers sometimes help.
As of now, the celebface account is just a hobby for Anna, who said she was shocked when she reached 30,000 followers. She said that she doesn’t feel any pressure to constantly update the account ― though she does ― and admitted, “I do what I like.”
There’s something fascinating about watching an image transform before your eyes, and this account has tapped into that. But it’s also a little disheartening to realize that celebrities are taking images, sometimes ones that have already been altered, and changing them again. On top of that, the tweaks are so small. It could easily be argued that they’re unnecessary. Generally speaking, celebrities are beautiful people, so why do they feel the need to convince us they’re even prettier than we think?
On the other hand, maybe these GIFs and images reinforce the idea that celebrities, like plenty of other people, deal with confidence and self-esteem issues, riding home Anna’s point that “celebrities are ordinary people.”
Models like Jenner and Hadid ― and famous women in general ― are watched under society’s microscope, scrutinized for their bodies, their clothes, their makeup, their hair. In that regard, it’s understandable that some stars would want to alter every image they post. There’s a good chance many celebrities are hyper-aware of their appearances, and what they may perceive as an imperfection is likely undetectable to most of the public. (Would you have ever noticed that Hadid’s neck curve wasn’t smooth?)
We’ve written about the effects of social media on our perceptions of beauty in the past, and, well, it’s not pretty. Studies have shown that social media images can set unrealistic beauty standards and affect body image. Time magazine called social media a “toxic mirror.”
When asked why she thinks it’s important to shed a light on the fact that the images we see online aren’t necessarily real, Anna said, “I want people to love themselves. We get complexes on the Internet. I want this page to be a cure for these complexes.”