There have been numerous instances of celebrities appearing to have altered their Instagram photos over the past year.
The trend began with these photos from Kim Kardashian and Blac Chyna 15 months ago.
It was easy to spot that something was amiss with these images because of the distorted floor and doors in the background.
The doorframe has a very obvious curve. Distortions like this are commonplace in digitally retouched images and are usually the giveaway that Photoshop or something similar has been used. The distortion also occurs around Kim's torso, which usually happens when waistlines are digitally altered.
And Kim's apparently altered photos seemed to pave the way for other celebs, from Beyoncé to Miranda Kerr and Lindsay Lohan, to seemingly do the same.
But then there were instances where distortions weren't visible. But, when comparing the differences between celebrity Instagram photos and paparazzi shots from the same day, it became apparent that some form of app may have been used.
For example, these two photos of Kim Kardashian – first from her Instagram and second from photographers – were taken on the same day.
And her waist looked slightly wider and less smooth during her red carpet appearance compared with this into-the-mirror selfie.
It happened again here.
Then Kylie Jenner posted this selfie, and plenty of commenters drew attention to the differences between this photo...
...and ones taken by the paparazzi.
Well, we found what appears to be the app that celebrities could be using so that we could see if it really is possible to alter selfies in this way.
The app is called Facetune, and it offers a whole load of editing options for photos, from smoothing, to reshaping, to tone alterations and filters.
So, I decided to be a celebrity for the day, download the app, and get my pose on.
The first thing I tried was slim myself down carelessly in order to see whether those distorted shapes in the background of celebrity Instagrams could be caused by the app. Here I am in my ~before~ shot.
And, sure enough, as I pinched the sides of my waist and legs to make them appear slimmer, the wall behind me and the mirror frame bent completely out of shape.
Here are the images side-by-side for comparison.
But was I able to change the shape of my body WITHOUT screwing up the background and making it totally obvious I'd used an app?
Well, the answer was yes. As I got the hang of using the tools, this was the result.
Here are the two images side by side for comparison.
I gave it another go, this time with a slightly zoomed-out shot that showed my legs as well.
And with a bit more tweaking, this was the result.
But this was the difference after I'd narrowed my waist and arms.
Next, I addressed my inability to ever look ~~flawless~~ in a selfie.
I debated whether this was down to my lack of access to a makeup artist, gallons of foundation, or any idea how the fuck to contour, or whether it was actually down to never digitally altering my features.
Because celebrities, especially the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, systematically look completely blemish-/wrinkle-/any normal human imperfection–free.
See Exhibit A.
And also Exhibit B.
So, I posed for my selfie to find out if this level of flawlessness could be achieved with the app.
So, I played around with the "Smooth" and "Smoother" functions, which do exactly as the names suggest. And this was the result.
I was pretty surprised at the result. I looked smooth! Airbrushed! My skin almost matched the perfection of Kim's!
brb, becoming a celebrity.
I tried the effect out on another selfie and the results were perhaps even more drastic. Here's the before shot.
And here's what I looked like after a bit of smoothing out.
However, it made me wonder whether this is how Kim Kardashian and others achieve their flawless skin in Instagram selfies.
After all, Kim, as well as numerous other celebrities, have spoken out time and time again about the pressures they feel to appear perfect at all times.
It's pretty clear that this app can be used to drastically alter your appearance.
Whether it's this app that celebrities are using or something else entirely remains to be seen, but either way, I think I'll be going back to good old Instagram and my trusty Amaro filter and leaving the rest of it to the celebs.