Lensa A.I. Trending on Social Media But How Does It Impact Body Positivity?

Over the past few weeks, I’m sure your social media feed has been flooded with an army of whimsical and powerful superheroes, ethereal fairy princesses, intergalactic space aliens, or anime/manga video game characters – reimagined portraits of their posters which Lensa, the new photo creativity app developed by Prisma.ai, might be exactly what you need.

The avatars, created with the app Lensa, have garnered significant controversy since reaching the mainstream – not least in the accusations that the app has taken the work of thousands of artists to create its default designs – but these perfected artificial intelligence avatars have also sparked a conversation within the body positivity movement.


Search the term ‘Lensa’ on Instagram and you’re met with a sea of muscular arms, chiselled faces and perfected skin. The range of body types certainly appears to fit a certain standard. While the images are beautiful (the most popular are cosmic, colourful and almost fantastical), each body has arguably been ‘perfected’ – breasts are rounded and perky, jaws are sharpened and collarbones are accentuated.

Celebrities such as John Cena, MJ Rodriguez from POSEChance the Rapper, Taraji P Henson from EMPIRE, and even Britney Spears’ husband Sam Asghari, have all jumped on the Lensa bandwagon to AI-ify their selfies. But while many are enjoying their re-imagination as these celestial beings, and can no doubt do so without feeling their self-esteem is affected, others have pointed out that the app’s go-to edits seem problematic.


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A post shared by Sam Asghari (@samasghari)

(Left to right) Lizzo and MJ Rodriguez


This trend only came to my attention a couple of weeks ago, when I started noticing few of my followers, who are affluent influencers themselves, started sharing their AI-powered Magic Avatars on their profiles. These slowly sparked curiosity and interest amongst followers, gaining more following and many more are jumping onto the bandwagon, including myself, to check this app out.

To my surprise, Lensa charges quite a premium to create these customised avatars, opting for the best recommended package of 50 generated images for the price of S$6, who wouldn’t want to pass this up? This wouldn’t have gone viral without the word-of-mouth, and I’ve noticed that friends and colleagues of mine have also started hopping onto the bandwagon after looking through my posts and profile pics.

Quoting Zoe Sottile from CNN – “Lensa’s highly stylized, eye-catching portraits have taken over the internet, but they have also been the subject of concern from privacy experts, digital artists, and users who have noticed the app making their skin paler or their bodies thinner.”

This might come across to some as cultural or even racial appropriation despite potential attempts to create NFTs.


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A post shared by taraji p henson (@tarajiphenson)

However, our founder Melissa, believes digital trends are always ongoing. AI is simply part of the fun process to re-imagine ourselves as fantasy characters whom we will never be:

“Back then, we used to have apps where we gender-swapped with our friends and have a good laugh at how we look like as the opposite gender. And now with trending AI program, seeing ourselves as either a blue-skinned alien or pale green mermaid princess is just a fun part of the process of looking at ourselves in a different light.”


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A post shared by Melissa Fann (@melfann)

Former model Fay, 35, believes that apps like Lensa could drag our progress backwards: “The modelling industry has and continues to move in the right direction, we are getting somewhere with diversity, inclusivity, campaigns showing women with disabilities, skin disorders, scars, stretch marks,” she says. “But then the next cycle begins and we have the rise of AI and heavily-filtered images and I don’t think we should underestimate just how dangerous that could be.”

The AI provided a few pictures that made me look quite hot. Obviously that’s nice, but I’m also quite aware that this isn’t how we actually look to other people. It gave me exaggerated muscles that I don’t have, plus the AI also gave Melissa a free nose job in a few of her avatars, with perfect jawline, luscious flowing hair and cartoon-like large eyes. Overall, I was really impressed with how it picked up on my newly bleached hair and even got my nose right.

What’s trending also comes with controversies given many have claimed Lensa’s illegitimacy and unethical practices where they do not respect copyrights of real artists, according to TechCrunch. The AI program that comes with it is technically free, however using art created by others without their consent to create an algorithm and combine it into new pieces of ‘art’.

It’s natural to wonder how our images will be used once we send them into the AI universe. However given with any app, especially on social media, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn we have already surrendered some of our personal data when we agreed to the terms and conditions the app provides.

With all the issues that AI-generated art has brought up in terms of body image as well as intellectual property rights, what perhaps needs to be done is for more guidelines (and perhaps laws) in place to ensure that artwork such as what Lensa has produced is useful and fun without encroaching on anybody’s rights.

YouTube: WFAA
Images:  Instagram – @melfann, @apollolancer, @samasghari , @tarajiphenson
Prisma.ai / @mjrodriguez7 / Instagram; Prisma.ai / @bodycourage / Instagram


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