‘I Feel Uncomfortable Commenting On My Friends Facetuned Pictures’: When Does Hyping Up An Edited Selfie Turn To Validating Self-Hatred?

After Khloe Kardashian’s latest photoshopping scandal, we explore whether or not we need to stop 'liking' our friends edited insta posts…

Khloe Kardashian

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Last week, Khloe Kardashian was at the centre of yet another photoshopping scandal. Accused of editing an Instagram post beyond recognisability – and with some key photoshop ‘flaws’ - the picture caused a spike in people searching for ‘Khloe Kardashian photo editing’ and ‘Khloe Kardashian photoshop’ on Google.

It’s something the youngest Kardashian sister has become known for. In April this year, Page Six reported that her legal team were threatening to sue various media platforms for sharing a picture of Khloe where her body and face appear to be unedited. According to Tracy Romulus, chief marketing officer for KKW Brands, the picture had been mistakenly uploaded by Khloe’s assistant to her Instagram. ‘Khloe looks beautiful but it is within the right of the copyright owner to not want an image not intended to be published taken down,’ she said.

The latest editing scandal is not exactly revolutionary then, many a celebrity has fallen foul to a photoshop fail. What it has done is started a new conversation that we should all be having: what do you do when your friend refuses to post unedited pictures online?

‘I just wonder what people who know Khloe in real life think when she posts these pictures,’ a colleague mused during a conversation about the ethics of celebrity photoshopping. ‘Like, so many of her celebrity friends will comment how amazing she looks, but they absolutely know she doesn’t look like that in real life, so aren’t they just feeding her desire to photoshop?’

It’s a question I’ve never quite considered before. I have friends who slightly edit their pictures, and I wouldn’t hesitate to hype them up whether I can tell it’s edited or not, but in doing so, are we validating behaviour that is essentially an act of self-hatred? Are we actually being bad friends by co-signing their clear need – sometimes obsessively so – to Facetune?

For years now, experts have researched the ways in which posting online impacts our self-esteem. With each ‘like’ of a selfie comes a hit of dopamine, with each ‘like’ of an edited selfie then, we’re reinforcing the idea in our brains that the most liked version of ourselves, isn’t actually ourselves. When we ‘like’ a friends photoshopped selfie, are we telling them we prefer their edited self?

‘I was taking photos with my friend on the beach a few months ago and afterwards I sat and watched her edit the picture to be practically unrecognisable,’ Anna*, 23 from London tells me. ‘She changed her entire body and face, it made me feel a bit sick to be honest… it was just so sad. I felt really weird about commenting on it once she posted it because I knew it wasn’t her. I didn’t want to validate that behaviour but I also didn’t want to be a shit friend by not hyping her up.’

It’s a difficult place to be in. By commenting, we’re proactively endorsing behaviour we know is harming our friend. But by not commenting at all, we’re sending a clear message that we don’t like the photo – and let’s be honest, hyping up Instagram pictures is a pillar of modern friendship. Of course, one could play it off as if you didn’t see it, but is there an argument for having an actual conversation about it?

Instead of choosing not to comment and hoping they don’t notice, perhaps we should be sitting our Facetune-obsessed friends down to understand why they’re doing it and let them know you’ll no longer be approving it with your usual flame emoji.

I’d feel really preachy telling my friend I'm not liking her edited pictures anymore.

‘The thing is, I’d feel really preachy having that conversation,’ Anna says. ‘It would be so awkward and I’m not sure it’s my place to tell her not to edit her pictures. It’s something I just kind of hope she grows out of as she works on herself a bit more, which is all I can really help with.’

Anna’s not wrong, having the ‘I’m not liking your edited selfies’ conversation feels extreme. On the one hand, it could be the nicest thing to do for your friend whose self-esteem is being damaged by continuously getting their endorphins from edited-photo approval. On the other, I know I would feel judged and unsupported being at the other end of that talk.

When someone is suffering with self-esteem issues, sensitivity is key. So perhaps all we can do is remind our friends that editing is never necessary and hype up the authentic pictures they post with extra gusto, should they ever do so. Because when someone like Khloe Kardashian (allegedly) edits her photos with all of her beauty – surgically designed or not – and access to therapy - and getting all the more engagement for it - it’s no wonder some of us struggle with it too.

Read More:

There's Nothing Wrong With That 'Unedited' Khloé Kardashian Bikini Photo

'I Used To Hate My Face Without Filters. Do You?'

'I Was Obsessed With Facetune': 71% Of People Won't Post A Picture Online Without Photoshopping It - That Needs To Change

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