A post honouring a series of nineties pap shots featuring the pop legend and Michael Jackson received tens of thousands of likes from people that may not have known they were looking at a seriously revisionist version of the original images.
The singer’s face is noticeably smoother, her make-up more contoured. The person responsible for editing the pictures even went to the trouble of changing her eye colour to a bright blue.
As an artist that has dealt with many sexist, ageist assumptions about her image in her five decade career, fans found the edits all the more disturbing.
The changes didn’t look that radical to many of the people appreciating the post - until one Twitter user pointed out their oversight and tweeted the original pictures, calling the new ones “sick”.
It has caused discomfort among Twitter users that take issue with how this reflects of our changing beauty standards. In this case, the tweet hit 70,000 likes before anybody even noticed, gaining another 20,000 after the the differences were pointed out.
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Fans of the singer were confused as to why her striking features needed the edit in the first place, calling it “creepy”.
What is “insta-face”?
Reconfiguring pop culture icons’ looks to fit with a more “social media friendly” aesthetic is part of a growing trend for fans of editing apps.
It was first picked up by Iva Dixit, a writer at the New York Times.
In Madonna’s case, people have deduced it was likely the work of Remini, an AI photo “enhancer”.
Changes made can include whiter teeth, poreless skin, slimmer noses and a heavier emphasis on make-up. Instagram accounts dedicated to creating edits of this kind have been on the up since last summer, as featured in Iva’s thread.
Famous faces such as Julia Roberts and Angelina Jolie have also been subjected to the trend via Instagram accounts such as goddess.women. In turn, they become virtually indistinguishable from other influencers on your feed.
The account also offers paid editing services to its 342,000 followers.
The negative impacts of unrealistic beauty standards have is not a new thing, by all means. Its driving force just adapted to a new home.
Back in 2019, prolific photographer Rankin asked a group of teenage girls to edit portraits he had taken of them until they believed they were at an acceptable standard.
All 15 girls included in his research altered their pictures to replicate features seen in edits of their favourite influencers, such as the Kardashians.
“I found it disturbing how big even the small changes are,” Rankin told Insider at the time. “It’s so simple, almost like creating a cartoon character of yourself.”