(edited by Guido Scorza)
They are called body editing apps, they are many, often free and available on the Apple store as well as on the Play store.
They promise to make our body more beautiful but in photography, they are depopulated among the youngest – and not only – especially in this season of social distancing in which we appear more often online than live, they seem harmless, fun and even useful but hide pitfalls dangerous for everyone and for the youngest most of all.
Try typing on the Apple store or the Play store “body editing” or “body editor” or try to do the same on Google. You will find yourself in front of a long, indeed very long list of links, apps and images that all promise the same kind of miracle: improve your physical appearance, make your skin silky, make you taller, leaner, more muscular, make you look like a Hollywood actor, regardless of your age. And they do it seriously – even if not all of them and not always with the same results – but only in photography, of course.
They ask you to upload a photo and return it to you modified.
In a few clicks or a few taps the wrinkles on your face disappear, an enviable swimsuit turtle appears on your abdomen, your breasts or your buttocks become those of a teenager sculpted in the gym or of a lady who has just passed by for treatment. a plastic surgeon.
All wonderful isn’t it? Especially in times of pandemics, when it matters more how we look from a distance than how we really are. But then what happens when, finally, the costume fitting arrives? When will we start going out again, meeting, seeing each other in person? Those apps, these apps have shown us an unattainable goal or, at least, almost impossible to reach.
And that is why, in the world, the alarms launched by non-governmental organizations dealing with eating disorders are beginning to multiply and are calling for urgent interventions in relation to the dissemination and advertising of these apps, especially among the youngest.
So far, unfortunately, it has been a question of cries from Cassandra, which have remained unheard.
But, probably, the time has come to take them seriously.
Those apps are dangerous or, at least, they can be especially when they end up on the smartphone of girls and boys or, in any case, of more fragile people who, perhaps, already have a non-idyllic relationship with their body and with nutrition.
Because, of course, they can convince them that after having changed their body in the photo, it is time to do the same with their own body also in the physical dimension and to take some shortcut with the illusion of achieving the same result. And it is useless to line up the risks to which these kinds of shortcuts often lead.
This is why these apps and their advertising should not be within the reach of young people either in stores or in social networks.
Yet scrolling through the tabs of many of these apps on the Apple store finds them marked with a nice “+4” which means that they are considered suitable for an audience of users who are at least four years old.
And on the Play store they are generally characterized by a nice “PEGI3” which, in the international classification, basically means an app suitable for all ages. But is not so. Obviously this is not the case.
Indeed, it is precisely those between thirteen, fourteen, fifteen and sixteen, probably, the ages in which these apps can produce the worst consequences. And if you move to read the data relating to the download of the apps in question, you will be stunned by the numbers that, especially some, total up.
There are some with tens of millions of downloads and if you add up the download numbers of the different apps you get to hundreds of millions of downloads.
And the photos and videos released by these apps as well as their advertisements run everywhere on the Net and in the social universe regardless of the policies of some social networks which, in fact, would at least prohibit their advertising.
Even in this case, just launch a search for “body editor” on Tik Tok or Instagram to get an idea.
In short, the problem exists, the dimensions are already substantial and if you do not want to wait for the news to begin to tell about some tragedy of adolescents linked, more or less directly, to the circulation of these apps, perhaps, it is time to try to deal with it. and now.