Photo-sharing app BeReal was founded in 2020, but it made its biggest splash this year. From January to July, BeReal jumped from two million to 7.9 million daily active users, according to The Information.
The concept of BeReal is simple: Every day you receive a notification (Time to BeReal!), and you have two minutes to take your unedited, unfiltered photo. You can only see other people’s daily BeReals if you post one that day yourself, and previous ones disappear from the feed.
The app snaps front- and back-facing pictures at the same time, and let me tell you: These are the most unflattering images of all time.
BeReal is driven by the desire to be “authentic” online, which is oxymoronic even on the app itself. For example, you can post late BeReals when you actually want to document your current surroundings, and you can retake photos as well.
Still, when I snap my BeReal photo I never look quite like myself — or, at least, the “self” I know from my iPhone front-facing camera and my mirror. Perhaps it’s the mission of “authenticity” that makes BeReal photos so off-putting, exaggerating our features and muddying up the selfie lens. Here are some other theories I’ve heard recently: That the BeReal selfie cam is a fisheye lens; there’s a lag time; the app, like Snapchat, takes a screenshot through the camera and not an actual photo. BeReal hasn’t yet responded for a request for comment to elucidate.
Whatever the reason, I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Do a quick Twitter search and you’ll hear similar decries of uglinesss:
In all honestly, though, maybe we’re all just too used to augmented perfection. In a social media landscape drenched in filters and FaceTune, it’s easy to think that any depiction without them is “ugly.”
While some of my BeReal photos perturb me, I still take them because in those mess of pixels, I am being real. And also because, blessedly, they last less than 24 hours.