Here I was, getting a review ready for you, then a few nights ago while eating and watching weird late-night tv, The Evil Assistant and I found ourselves passing by TVSN, Australia’s home shopping network. Yes, the wonderful and sometimes ridiculous world of home shopping, where you can pay over $500 for this absolutely ugly bag, or a Magic Bullet, the device I care about more than most things, including children.
So what warranted us to stare at the tv in utter disbelief? What made our mostly rational brains short-circuit? For us to feel so offended for our bodies? For me to stop other posts to post a PMS-fuelled annihilation of a product?
Why, the Neckline Trainer/Slimmer!
Yes, on first sight, you would do what we did and scoff, roll your eyes and/or crack up laughing at the idiocy in a ~rose gold~ packaging. Ooooh, modern and fancy! Yet the Neckline Trainer (or if you’re in the States, “Neckline Slimmer“, or sometimes called the “Neck Genie“) has been around for years and has already done the As-Seen-On-TV laps plenty of times before.
For our virgin eyes, this was our first time, and we’ve never felt so much contempt for a product – or a TVSN presenter – before.
If you’re lost on how the Neckline Trimmer/Slimmer/Genie/soap pump works, here’s a lovely infomercial for you below. Basically, it’s a pump you hold to your chest and sit your big, terrible chin on and press down on it, like when you’re hands are full and you try turning on a light or try to tuck something under your chin because fuck second trips.
As you can see, you get 3 coils that give you gradual resistance that you work up to, but in our fancy ~rose gold~ Trainer, you get 5! Lucky you!
You’re probably thinking, “Elle, it’s just a silly contraption, get over it”, or “Elle, let people buy what they want” and you’re right; it is a silly contraption, I should get over it and anyone can buy whatever they want (for fifty dollars) but there comes a point where there’s so much bullshit or ridiculousness you have to just stop.
Also I’m just really pissy right now and want to rant.
I have three issues with this thing and the first is the ‘science’ side of it. The main focus of the segment we saw was the presenter narrowing in on double chins. Now, I have a double chin and it is so obvious that even when I do headshot posing that bitch is still stealing the show. I want her gone, and you know how you get rid of girls like her? You decrease your overall fat because spot reducing naturally doesn’t!! fucking!! exist!! We all know this, it’s common knowledge.
Okay, the actual inventor of the product, Paul Younone, is a former rugby player, a qualified physiotherapist with a specification in biomechanics, so he’s automatically 100% more qualified than I am with the human body as I have precisely 0 medical credentials, however, I stand behind the belief that you can’t spot-reduce fat under the chin, the muscles of the chin, jaw and neck already get enough movement since we’re constantly using those muscles to move, talk, chew, swallow, etc.
But apparently, from what some actual people who look inside the body on the regular say, thing muscles called the Platysma muscles can become attached but only surgery can fix this. Fat, of course, can now be dissolved via Kybella injections or a good ole neck lift.
There’s also the issue of uninjured people becoming injured even from the first spring or just a little too fast or a lack of concentration. Anything from a sprained neck to TMJ can occur, and good-fucking-luck if you pull a damn muscle.
Something that ticked off my photographer side was the misleading photos. I’m used to this as it happens a lot in beauty ‘before and after’ shots which are so.. annoyingly common that I’m planning to talk about the main things to look out for. It always comes down to lighting, posing, and the position of the camera* – things you should be easy to keep consistent.
So here are 3 before and after photos from Paul Younone’s site, untouched, with no resizing.
Now here are they are again with my quick breakdowns I can see in just a few seconds.
Neon green is lighting which is used to first emphasise or bring attention to shadows then softened with an extra light and red is posing.
*I did do blue as camera positioning to trick the eye, however, I am going to add this to a general post about before and after photos later.
The before photo shows the direction of the light is from behind her, lighting up her hair and shoulder with some sort of softer light or bouncing of light above her face. This is typical before lighting to emphasise imperfections (darker nose area, ‘unlit’ eyes and, of course, the chin area).
The after has the light from behind (can see it from the shadow of her bikini tie and again in her hair) but also a light has been brought close and just to the right of the camera, which lightens above and below the brow and her nose while still giving some appealing shadow under the chin.
Like above we see the before photo lighting hitting the hair and the widest part of the face, which gives unflattering shadows to further parts of the face- eyes, inner socket of eyes, nose fold, lip folds, jaw and chin.
After shows a secondary light in front of her face to counteract the shadows of the first one (catch light in eyes, on nose, chin, lips (although gloss and more flattering makeup has been applied) and decolletage).
Again we have the left hair light which also is shown on the air but like the first example, there is a bounce like which puts a light in her eye however you can very obviously see a brighter light is used in the second one to illuminate her face.
Posing is very subtle but still noticeable in this shot, where the back is slouched and shoulders slightly rolled forward in the before while her back straighter and shoulders more balanced in the after shot.
While extra fat around the lower part of the face can make the sides of the mouth look pulled down, she is subtly smirking in the second one. Also, her jaw is slack in the first one
Also it seems like this young woman has also lost weight around the side of her neck. It’s hard to explain but the bikini strap is going over a little bit of a fleshier skin while it’s flat, basically non-existent in the second one, which would also explain why her double-fucking-chin is gone.
This one is actually interesting because while she has her back straight and shoulders back out, there’s still a noticeable forward tilt to her head (indicated by the arrows) which is exactly how you pose for photos, especially if you want to decrease a double jaw and emphasise the jaw.
She also has the ‘slack jaw’ before and the tightened mouth/jaw in the after.
Also her right shoulder (closes to camera) in the after shot is dropped, another posing technique make one look more relaxed and to elongate the collarbone and neck in this instance.
Handy hint! If you want to decrease your double chin and make your jaw look sharp press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, or better yet if you’re the one taking the shot or know the moment the photo is about to be taken, swallow! Bringing your tongue to the roof of your mouth and swallowing both bring the neck up!
The before shot here is a more ‘relaxed’ pose, with the side and front of her neck looking relaxed while in her after you can see the muscles under the skin have been elongated and stretched, not from the device, but from how she’s been posed with her shoulders. Bringing the shoulders more face-on with the camera and looking to the side automatically does this in everyone.
Of course, there are the obvious differences between a double chin in all the befores and a nice, svelt, lifted jawline and neck in the afters. We’ve already talked about how only overall fat loss, needle or surgical intervention are the only way you can actually get rid of a double chin, so it’s possible these women have other had one or two of these options. While I think some Photoshop has been used to probably do quick, simple smoothing and editing, but I don’t think it’s been used to resize or warp the chin and jaw area. The photos are too small to conclusively see if they’ve been tampered with anyway.
I know it sounds stupid, but these are tricks that are commonly used and are obviously being used in these shots. I know you can’t recreate a perfect before and after, but you can attempt to get close to you care about genuine results.
Also this isn’t about nitpicking and bringing down these women at all; whatever they’ve had done (if it isn’t Photoshop) looks incredible and I hope they’re happy.
At the end of the day if you’re presented with photos and there seems to be obvious playing around with shots makes me feel like a product doesn’t produce good enough results.
I think the main issue I have isn’t what I’ve ranted about above. You know, if you want to strengthen muscles around your chin, fine, if you want to just double check every single little thing you can do for your jowls, okay, if you don’t care about the price… whatever.
No the thing that really got under our skin was the segment itself.
Sadly I can’t find the segment we saw with Paul (right) and the presenter (left) but here is the quick segment for it featuring a female presenter which is a better delivery of the product and relating to the audience which – let’s not lie – is heavily marketed towards women. All the photographs are of women, the models are women, it has no men aside from the inventor and presenter.
This is where I had the issue because I like to think the presenter was just trying to empathise and relate to the audience – the women – watching, as was the inventor as well for making the product. Speaking in very general terms, the double chin and jaw area is a big issue when it comes to looks, but I didn’t feel any of that when watching the show. In fact, we felt more put-off and offended at the repeated ‘ugly double chin’ and ‘unsightly saggy jowls’ where we could see how very vulnerable people (with $50) might pick up the phone and order one, but neither of us do that when we’re annoyed at having our turkey necks laser-focused on; we get pissed off and write a pms-fuelled, grump central post about it.
As we only saw it once, we can’t show or quote to you examples from the segment, but pushing aside the shitty ‘technology’, the misleading photos and just focusing on the words being said, we have never felt so mocked, and it stung more because it wasn’t another female, not another ‘one of us’ to identify with, it was the male inventor and a male presenter which felt like a cop out.
Look, there are what look to be some genuine positive feedback of the product, and if it’s real and has produced real results, that’s great, but I don’t trust a product over shoddy science, unreliable photography and made to feel like utter shit. My big, fat, saggy, ugly double chin deserves more respect than that, and yours does too.