Achieving fitness goals and modifying physical appearance typically requires hard work, discipline, and sometimes a bit of money. But that might be changing, sort of. Last week, Manly, an app that is marketed toward men and helping them look the way they’ve always wanted to in photographs, caused quite a stir on Twitter, according to GQ.
A writer at the Atlantic came across the app via an Instagram sponsored post, and tweeted a link to the video with the caption, “What is this insane app?” Her tweet quickly went viral. The promoted Instagram profile features a number of images of women and men showing off their physical fitness. There are countless images of men with their shirts off and perfect six-pack abs on full display. The app’s photo feed displays conventionally attractive men but upon closer inspection, it’s clear to see that the images aren’t as authentic as they appear.
The looks are all achieved by editing photos in the Manly app.
The app offers what it calls “ab stickers” which are used to give off the appearance of an individual who is in shape. It describes itself as “powerful photo editor with a complete pack of muscles, tattoos, hairstyles, beard & mustache, skin tone, and accessories! It’s a photo filter or picture editing app with every function you need while much easier to use.”
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GQ reached out to Manly’s product designer Cheuk Yin, who says he believes the app is just another form of self-expression.
“With the help of technology, we are free to create our own image that project of our idealized self to show others who we want to be or who we are,” he said.
Yin goes as far as to suggest users use the app to “enhance their dating profile pictures to look more attractive and get more likes.”
The app is free to download but offers a number of premium features, including tribal tattoos, facial hair, and bulging muscles, which cost money after the free trial expires. Yin says users are free to cancel their subscription at any time. According to GQ, this is the typical payment model of the app’s parent company, Alpha Mobile Limited, which is a 70-employee startup in Beijing. While Manly is currently aimed at men, the company also makes apps for anyone looking to enhance their appearance.
Apps like, Photable, Facey, and BodyApp are all from Alpha Mobile Limited and offer different forms of physical enhancement through photo editing.