Why Are We So Obsessed With Apps Like Gradient That Tell Us Which Celebs We Look Like?

Celebrity lookalike apps have an enduring appeal, but why do we like them so much?

Why Are We So Obsessed With Apps Which Tell Us Which Celebs We Look Like?

by Rebecca Reid |
Updated on

We all love a good app craze. Filters that make you look like a puppy, apps that show you what you'll look like when you're old. But the king of the face app is unquestionably the celebrity look-a-like app.

Case in point, Gradient, the new app that will show you not only which celebrity you look like, but also a gradient that slowly transforms you from your face to theirs. Earlier today, having read that the Kardashian Klan were fans of the tool, I went to download it.

It's a Russian app, and as you're probably aware, there have been lots of very sensible concerns raised about how apps, especially Russian and Chinese apps, might use the data that you give them access to. And yet I still cheerfully downloaded it, as have thousands of other people.

Yeah OK it's not idea that someone in a bunker in Moscow might be able to see my data but does that really matter if I get to find out that I look a bit like Clemence Posey or Fearne Cotton?

We spent a happy half an hour at Grazia HQ trying out the app to find out who we look like and concluded that the app is pretty rubbish.

©Gradient/Lynn Enright

It turns out that it's not exactly accurate. It thought that I look like Rihanna. But it does raise the question: why are we so obsessed with these apps that tell us who we look like? Obsessed enough that we'll happily download apps, which often have questionable relationships to our data without reading the scary small print.

The app seems to base the lookalike mostly on the position your head is in when you take the picture and then find a celebrity in a similar position.

Gradient/Rebecca Reid
©Gradient/Rebecca Reid

Despite the fact that the app is ostensibly not every good (I think we can agree that I do not resemble Rihanna in any way), I still spent half an hour trying out different pictures to try and find a lookalike that I deemed a) accurate and b) flattering. It's clear from the popularity of these apps that we all love trying to find out who we look like. But why?

Perhaps it's about trying to understand how other people see us, because we never actually get to see our own faces. Or maybe it's simpler than that, just a curiosity about what you could look like if you had the best fashion and beauty help to elevate you to super polished celebrity status.

Maybe it's because we're able to see what is beautiful about our own faces when it's presented as someone else's beauty rather than our own?

Whatever the reason is, these apps have an enduring popularity. These programmess have been online and in app form for more than a decade. They're compelling enough that we're willing to ignore scary articles which detail the potential security risks.

On the upside, if you delete an app you do (at least in theory) delete their connection to your data. So if you're security conscious, once you've found a lookalike that makes you happy, delete the (free) app.


Gradient says we look like...

Gradient1 of 5

Phoebe looks like Camila Cabello (or Kamila Kabello)

Phoebe does not look like Camila Cabello in real life.

Gradient2 of 5

Rebecca looks like Rihanna

Rebecca does not look like Rihanna.

Gradient3 of 5

Lynn looks like Anna Popplewell

Lynn does not look like Anna Popplewell.

Gradient4 of 5

Georgia looks like Dakota Fanning

Georgia looks slightly more like Dakota Fanning than Rebeca looks like Rihanna.

Gradient5 of 5

Chloe looks like 'Kamila Kabello'

Chloe also doesn't look like Camila Cabello, which is who the app thought Phoebe looked like too.

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