Over the weekend, my friend Carol posted “before” and “after” photos of herself using the smartphone photo app Cymera. Unlike most western photo editing apps, this Asian app (I’m pretty sure it originated in Korea, since its homepage is hosted by Cyworld) allows you to make numerous beauty edits, many of which are obviously catered for the Asian standards of beauty: large eyes, slim face, and clear, smooth skin, just to name a few.
Everyone — including myself — who commented on the photos said that she looks better in the “before” version. I added that apps like these must have contributed to the increase of ulzzang‘s (the second definition’s the most accurate) in the recent years.
Nonetheless, I was intrigued. I knew that apps like Cymera existed, and that they are quite popular in Asia. (Xiaxue openly admits to using apps like this to “photoshop” herself before posting them online.) However, I had never tried one out for myself. What’s more, Cymera has an English interface and is readily available in the Google Play Store and iTunes!
Here’s my first try at using Cymera. The effects I used were: Big Eyes, Slim (makes your face slimmer), Makeup (false lashes and blush), and Cover Spots (makes your face clearer and smoother).
The more I played with Cymera, the more I could see the reason for its — and similar apps’ — popularity, especially in image-obsessed societies like S. Korea. In addition to the effects I used in the photo above, there is even a liquify option (aka the “make anyone skinnier” tool in Photoshop)! Additionally, the interface is so easy and practically everything is so much cuter and generally better than western photo editing apps.
I could also see how it can become addictive. By that, I don’t mean playing with it for hours on end, but editing every photo before sharing it with the world.
And before long, you’ll be editing more and more, until your Facebook/Twitter/Instagram becomes filled with photos like this:
Big Eyes, Smile (makes your smile more upturned), Slim, Liquify,
Hair, Makeup (I didn’t use any eyeshadow ones, but notice the
upper AND lower eyelashes!), Brightness, Cover Spots, and
Decorate (I added a fobby yellow bow)
Admittedly, I went ALL THE WAY for some of the effects — like Big Eyes and Slim — so that you can more clearly see what I’m talking about. Aside from the weird lighting on my nose that makes it look like I have Ashlee Simpson’s definition of a deviated septum, HOLY COW I practically look like an anime character!
Personally, I think using apps like this is fine just as long as you’re being honest with yourself and you don’t overdo it. Should people disclose whether or not their photos are doctored? I’m not so sure about that in situations where the editing is very subtle…what do you think?
But yeah. I’ll probably use this app whenever I want to share a picture of myself where everything else is fine but I feel particularly uncomfortable with a certain part of my face (i.e., a zit). And if I make modifications at about the same level as the first “after” shot, I will say that I did. And I will never edit someone else’s picture, unless they specifically ask me to do so.
Another reason to keep the app is that beauty editing is just a small part of it!
As you can see in the promotional shots above, Cymera also features beautiful filters, cute borders and collage templates, adorable stamps and decorations (seriously…why is everything that Asia makes so much cuter?), and lens effects!
In other words, this one app has already replaced multiple image-editing apps on my phone.
Lastly, a question for all my Asian readers (or ones who are more familiar with Asian culture than me): what other cute, feature-packed apps for Android would you recommend for this not-so-hip mom who has somewhat lost touch with her fobby roots? A big plus if the app comes in English too, as my Korean isn’t as good as it used to be. TIA!