How Apps and Social Media Are Being Used to Judge Women

Between skinny apps and a new campaign capturing images of women eating on the London Underground, social media is becoming another medium for making women feel bad about themselves.


Few people who take selfies would say that they are true portraits, in the journalistic sense. A little touch up before, finding the best angle or selecting the perfect filter is all part of the process. But several apps that make the user look thinner, most notably SkinneePix, have emerged. Is that going too far?

SkinneePix is an image manipulation app that allows users to shed up to 15 pounds, in multiples of fives, with just a few taps. The Guardian’s Elena Cresci downloaded the app and found the results a little unsettling. “The closest I’ve ever come to looking like this before was after a severe bout of tonsillitis,” she wrote.

Robin J. Phillips, one of the creators of the app responded in a comment to The Guardian saying, “You missed totally the point that the app can actually help people visualize a more healthy life. And yes, often, lighter is healthier.” Still, Phillips acknowledged the temptation to max out the app: “Every woman we show SkinneePix to says ‘Hit 15 first.’”

With high social competition among teens, it isn’t hard to imagine that there’s an inherent competition to look the best of your peer group. Apps like SkinneePix could lead to further damage among pro-eating disorder groups and at-risk individuals.

As if skinny apps weren’t enough, the trend of judging women in public — both online and off — has had another development this week. Men were encouraged to take pictures of women eating on the London Underground and post them to the Facebook group “Women Who Eat On Tubes” (WWEOT). This made a great deal of women uncomfortable, as have the creator’s responses.

Last night, the group was removed from Facebook “in error” and reinstated because it didn’t violate any rules. Still, according to the Daily Mail, the founder said he might close the group himself because of “toxic hatred” on social media, adding that he doesn’t “want to be seen to be backing down but [needs] to think about [his] family.”

This change of heart may be a little late as the group has already inspired a series of protests, wherein women will eat Wherever The F**K They Want. There’s a great deal of competition on social networks for social status, and the problems of society at large are carried over. Maybe a little humor and more understanding is the answer.