The creator of a hit mobile app which instantly doctors selfies to make them appear as if the user is a stone in weight lighter than they really are has blasted critics who claim it is fuelling anorexia.
Professor Sue Green created the SkinneePix mobile app which uses facial recognition software to change photographs to make the subject appear thinner in the face, making it perfect for selfies.
The app is billed as a tool to promote a healthier lifestyle, as it creates an image of the user as they might look after they reach weightloss goals.
More than 75,000 SkinneePix apps have been sold since the software launched in March 2014, prompting critics to claim the app is used to encourage eating disorders.
Prof. Green, 51, said it was designed for ordinary people who simply need a touch of inspiration to begin losing weight.
She said: “I remember going on a diet when I was 11 years old – it was a horrible experience, and terrible for my self-esteem. I would never encourage that kind of behaviour.
“People are very concerned about anorexia, but on the other side there are legitimate concerns from people who are overweight or obese, and who need help to begin to live healthier.
“Anorexia is a horrible problem, the discussion of which is dominated by very loud voices from passionate campaigners.
“Separate from that, there are people like me who are trying to lose weight who have found using this app a great help.”
Prof. Green, from Arizona, who developed the app with her partner Robin Philips, said the most controversial aspect of the app was its name.
She said: “When we took pictures of our friends they would always ask to be photographed ‘with the skinny lens’.
She said she came up with the idea after going on holiday with friends who were not happy with how they looked in their snapshots.
She said: “We got home from vacation with no pictures of our friends. They threatened to defriend us if we put any on Facebook and tagged them in it.
“I work in broadcast and know what a camera can do to add 10-15 pounds to a picture. With our app you can you can take that weight back off and it shows who you really are.”
Among the app’s critics are award-winning blogger and author Emily Wierenga, 34, from Alberta, Canada, who battled anorexia both as a child and an adult.
She said: “The app declares that thin good and anything else is bad.
“It does in one click what fashion magazines have been slowly doing for years – breeding a generation of anorexic children. The dangerous thing about anorexia is you can never be skinny enough. And eventually, it kills you.”
Prof. Green said she was baffled by much of the criticism.
She said: “There are worse things out there, like curved mirrors in dressing rooms.
“People forget that SkinneePix has options to take off just 5lbs, or leave the image the same. If they want they can leave it, but most people will hit the 15lbs button.
“Even regular selfies are false, inaccurate images in the way they are often carefully posed. Someone who wears a lot of makeup or does spray tanning gives off a false image.
“People are critical but do not take the time to find out our intentions behind the app. If someone asks, we would be more than happy to explain.
“We wanted it to be an inspiration for people to lose weight. Other weight loss aids are hundreds of pounds, ours is only 69p. If you look at our Facebook site there are reports from doctors and personal trainers who use it as it’s supposed to be used – as a motivational app with good intentions.”
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