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New Study Reveals Trend in Photo Retouching Among Online Daters

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Have you ever “touched up” one of your Tinder profile photos? Maybe you wanted to look more vibrant, or erase a double chin or receding hairline. If you have, you’re not alone.

Meitu, a popular photo retouching app, surveyed 250 online daters to find out their photo retouching practices, and to see how honestly people are presenting themselves to potential matches. Not surprisingly, they found a considerable portion of the respondents does retouch - 33% of women had retouched their photos and 20% of men had retouched theirs.

While it’s no secret that people optimize photos (look at all the filters on Instagram), it is interesting that this follows a trend in online dating where people have historically posted misleading images of themselves – either by using old photos from 10 years ago at a time when they were thinner or had more hair, or by Photoshopping  their “flaws,” like skin blemishes.

Along these lines, the survey found that 47 percent of men and 27 percent of women have encountered a first date who looked nothing like their profile image, feeding into the stereotype that many people lie about themselves to seem more attractive.

But what does it mean when someone admits to photo retouching? Is there a difference in perception between online daters who do a few touch-ups to enhance their features, compared to severely altering their images? Turns out, there is a difference.

Most survey respondents who admitted to photo retouching did only slight tweaks, such as blemish removal (44 percent of women and 28 percent of men), teeth whitening (18 percent women, 16 percent men), or lightening and darkening of skin tone (28 percent women, 20% men). For all categories, women seemed to do more tweaking in general than men. But the vast majority of both women and men said that some light retouching is fine with them (71 percent of women and 65 percent of men).

Most survey respondents agreed that more severe retouching, such as reshaping faces and body outlines is not okay. Ninety-eight percent of women and 91 percent of men don’t think it’s fine to retouch an image more than slightly.

In summary, avoid surprises on your first date by keeping photo edits simple and natural. Getting rid of that random pimple, adding a little color to your pre-summer skin, or brightening your smile is all good. But avoid anything that’s going to make you look like a different you!

Meitu surveyed men and women between the ages of 18-34 who had used online dating sites or mobile dating apps.