The Getty test
As creators gain entry into traditional celebrity spaces, they're subjected to a new form of scrutiny
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Speaking of being “authentic” online, I wrote a piece for The Verge about how humans are getting falsely accused of being AI. —Kate
Over at Embedded we have something called “The Embedded Test,” which you can only pass by becoming a free or paid subscriber.
I can admit to having photoshopped one picture on my Instagram. Or rather, I can admit to having my sister do it, because I couldn’t figure out how to do it myself. It wasn’t a part of my body that we altered, but a stain on my dress (courtesy of the giant scorpion bowl I’m pictured holding) that we removed, because it was making me look like a sloppy baby instead of a sophisticated just-turned-30-year-old. It took my sister 10 seconds.
I’m now acutely aware that anything I see on my social media feeds may be—and probably is—just as seamlessly edited. Which brings to me a concept I recently stumbled upon, via Lizzo: “The Getty test.” [EDIT: TikTok rightly pointed out that the first videos about this appeared on the app in January courtesy of @culturework and The Fashionable Lawyer].
The Getty test is when you compare a photo a celebrity posted of themselves on social media to a picture, ideally taken on the same day, of that celebrity on the wire photo service Getty. If the person’s appearance is the same in both images, they passed the Getty test—meaning, they didn’t (noticeably) alter the photo they posted of themself.
The Getty test is most often applied to celebrities like the Kardashians, in order to call them out for their extravagant alterations of their bodies, but testers have started coming for influencers as well. Until recently, online creators mainly existed in the digital snowglobes they constructed around themselves. But in the past two years, many have been granted access to the world of traditional celebrity—which means, among other things, that professional photographers are shooting them on red carpets and during Fashion Week.
Certain influencers are more notorious than others for digitally finessing their images, and now they pay for it every time they’re photographed at events in their actual bodies. Especially for snarkers on Reddit, there’s nothing more satisfying than pointing out the discrepancies revealed by a Getty shot. But I’m of two minds about whether or not those making the call-outs are exacting the justice they think they are.