Instagram account steals your selfies, gives you racist makeover

photoshop-fantasy-asian-womanA terrible instagram account is taking other people’s selfies, without their consent or knowledge and giving them make-overs, some of which make the victims looks whiter.

 Carrie Nelson, of the Frisky, was understandably disturbed when she learned that an instagram account had taken her selfie and given it a make-over without her permission. She,

discovered that photoshop_fantasy had appropriated my photo for its own purposes, which was to give my selfie a complete makeover. In its doctored version, my freckles are gone, my hairy eyebrows are trimmed, my wispy hair is slightly more orderly, my eyes and lips are enhanced by makeup, and the corners of my mouth are slightly upturned to add the tiniest smile.

It’s not a bad look for someone. But that someone doesn’t look like me.

I rarely wear makeup, so the only photos that exist of my beautified face were taken at my Bat Mitzvah, my junior and senior proms, my wedding, and the midnight screenings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” that I attended as a teenager. Still, I can assure you that, when I wear makeup, I do not look like the person in photoshop_fantasy’s creation.

Nelson found the selfie-makeover upsetting for several reasons: “Naturally, I was angry that I was made to look like something other than myself, and I was angry that my photo was stolen and appropriated without permission.” But the worst part was the way the make over distorted the significance of the photo:

Most of all, though, I was angry because the doctored photo directly contradicted the entire purpose of my selfie. I took my selfie because Iknew I didn’t look conventionally gorgeous in that moment. I took my selfie because I wanted the world to see me raw, flaws and all. I took my selfie because I can be beautiful even when I’m tired and depressed. I took my selfie because, beauty standards be damned, I liked my disheveled face on Sunday. That image empowered me far more than an unsolicited airbrushing ever could.

Nelson also discovered other women who had been made-over and made the disturbing observation that some of them had been made over to look more white. One black woman has her face lightened. One Asian woman has her eyes rounded and widened.


As Nelson points out, “There is absolutely space for empowerment in selfies, but only when the pictures remain in the domain of their creators. Once they are appropriated, the true ugliness of conventional beauty standards shines through.”

This instragram account is violating people and projecting their own racist and problematic standards of beauty onto them. They have yet to respond to Nelson.They’re fine twisting and reframing other people’s identities. Let’s see if they get the courage to show themselves.


Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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