I’m sure to get a lot of flak for this post but I’m hoping you understand that this comes from a sincere and honest place. This is just me, in my late twenties, having a pass-on-the-enlightenment moment. A lot of young women read this blog and it would be such a waste to just use this platform for nonsense ramblings and silly songs only (Island Chickeeeenn..Island Chickeenn…), so this is my feeble attempt to shed some light on something considered “very common” these days but something that bothers me personally. I’m talking about young girls (and guys) who use photoshop excessively to alter their natural looks and God-given features.
I’m not against Photoshop, I use Photoshop ALL the time. I use it for cropping, getting rid of shadows, adding a colored tint, etc. It’s a brilliant program and I have benefited from it immensely over the years. I understand why professionals need photoshop–it’s a tool to enhance photos, to make colors pop, to provide a certain texture and feel to a photograph.
But here’s my dilemma: If you’re just a regular person–not a magazine editor, graphic designer, professional photographer, or digital artist–just an ordinary girl who wants to post casual photos online, where do you draw the line? I have been in several magazines and ads, some of which I’m sure was photoshopped so I won’t even touch that, as there are a lot of gray areas when it comes to photoshopping professionally. There are several factors to consider and it’s a big industry debate. Not that I am saying that it’s OK to completely alter looks for commercial material and NOT OK to do it for personal use–what I’m saying is this: YOU have control over personal photos, it’s something that belongs to you, it’s something that directly represents you. If it’s something that your peers, your family members, your loved ones will see–then it’s always best to be honest.
If you can take out a zit, can you take out the jiggles on your arm too? When you get rid of the shadows in the background, do you also lighten your skin tone while you’re at it? If you can blur that annoying tourist behind you, can you also “blur out”your double chin to look slimmer? Maybe I should get rid of this mole..hmm..or make my eyes bigger..and my upper lip, I should Angelina it a bit. It’s one step leading to another–in your head, it’s completely harmeless–just tiny, little, subtle, natural looking alterations. But who are we kidding? How can “natural looking”be more important than just plain and simple “natural”. It’s like opting to be “smart looking” rather than just being “smart”.
How do you know if you’re going overboard with the editing and enhancing? Well, here’s a quick question that will give you some perspective—>What would you prefer, to have a digitally enhanced version of you (pimple free, with bigger boobs, a smaller waist, hazel green eyes, perfectly smooth hair) with 100 Facebook likes or a regular photograph of you receiving only 3 likes? Would you rather be liked by many for the altered you or to be appreciated by a few for the REAL you? I choose the latter.
Just like you, I hate pimples. I hate frizzy, uncooperative hair. I hate my bloated PMS-ing puson. I agree that they’re unsightly and don’t exactly make you more attractive. Don’t you wish we could all have a magic wand in real life, which would erase all these “flaws” just like in our photos? But these imperfections (whether temporary or permanent) are there to remind us that we’re normal human beings and that we all go through physical changes. The challenge is how to become naturally beautiful despite having these “flaws”. Besides “flaws” are all relative. it requires a change in perception and a little creativity in dressing up, styling, a healthy diet/exercise, and yes, even working an angle!
One of the best compliments a girl can ever receive is “Wow, you’re even more beautiful in person.”For a guy to say this sincerely could mean two things 1)You really are beautiful in person 2)He has seen girls on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc who look “WOWOWEE” in the photos but “WOWOW-WHAT HAPPENED” in person.
And here’s the thing. An average fella won’t even notice that extra inch of love handle BUT since you chose to photoshop your waist into a few sizes smaller– you just made him more aware of your “virtual tiny” waist line. And because the photos gave him the impression that you were bil-bil free, seeing you with some lady lumps in person suddenly throws him off. He feels disappointed in seeing a different woman in the flesh, not that he’s disgusted with your chubby bits–it’s simply because he can’t connect the online you to the real you. It’s like seeing a Honda Accord on Facebook and being greeted by a Toyota Camry in real life. It’s not as if the Accord is any better than the Camry, they’re both cars, but they just look completely different and cannot be THE SAME car. The thing is, he could’ve been more than happy to take home the Camry but because you conditioned his mind that he was getting an Accord–this makes him a bit confused and turns him off.
I don’t speak for all men, there are some perverts out there who really just check out boobs and butts 24-7, but there are lots of DECENT men–who measure beauty based on a woman’s totality: her curves, her smile, her birthmarks, her wit, her humor, and of course, her CONFIDENCE. And excessive photoshopping of your pictures sends out a really strong message to men: “I DON’T LIKE THE WAY I LOOK” which spells only one thing: Insecurity. Girls, you could be a Victoria Secret model or a Ms. Universe candidate–but if you are terribly insecure, it can eat you up inside and make you do crazy and unhealthy things.
It’s natural to feel insecure and unattractive on some days. But to let the insecurities rule over your life, leading to hasty decision making and poor life choices–that’s when it becomes dangerous. It’s been said in self-help books time and time again, but I strongly believe that beauty is from WITHIN. The most beautiful women are the ones who are comfortable and confident, women who have invested in taking care of their bodies and their minds, girls who truly LOVE themselves.
Just the other day, I visited the Ocean Park in Taiwan and I marveled over all the little fishies in the tanks. And this got me thinking–if God took so much time and effort to make these little creatures so beautiful, purposefully putting each speck of color in their teeny bodies, shaping their eyes, lips and fins so nicely—just think of all the LOVE he poured out into each of our faces and our bodies! Each mole, each freckle, each piece of hair was placed for a specific reason–to make us unique, to make us beautiful. So deleting this and that is an indirect way of us saying to God “Sorry Big Guy, but you made a MISTAKE.” And God (in his own perfect glory) never EVER makes a mistake. You are beautiful, just the way you are. Here’s an old skincare commercial that shows how photoshopping can change a woman’s face completely and it’s worth a click.