I am taking a huge risk with this statement: women need to stop using Photoshop, Facetune, Instabeauty & other apps to alter their appearance. I am all aboard the positive body image, anti-Photoshop train. Here’s why…
Why I Hate Photoshop:
Before I go off on my Photoshop rant I want to tell you how this post came to be… I have been noticing more and more that there’s been a recent surge in “positive body image” ad campaigns recently. First was Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, then last year Target’s swim campaign was titled “Target Loves Every Body” and featured models of all shapes and sizes in the campaign. This year Sports Illustrated put Ashley Graham on its cover. Much to the dismay of some people, ahem, Cheryl Tiegs. When I saw Ashley on the cover, I was so pumped. Not just for her, but for real women everywhere. Famous fitness model, Kayla Istines just bravely shared the controversy behind “progress” photos and how easy they are to fake. Even Snickers is poking fun of photoshopping in their latest ad. And I applaud all of these companies for taking a stand on society’s ridiculous qualifications of beautiful.
This really got me thinking about social media and the connection it has to self-esteem. We all remember Essena O’Neill who infamously and controversially “quit social media” via social media. I had mixed emotions about it at the time- and I still do. In a world where we are measured by the number of likes and followers we have—it’s hard to maintain a positive sense of self. But this is the reality of the world we live in. I really look up to people like Iskra Lawrence who are trying to change the way the industry sees real women. She shares unedited photos on her Instagram – stretch marks, cellulite and all. Clearly I’m not the only one obsessed with her and what she is trying to do; Aerie just signed her to star in a completely unretouched bikini campaign. And she killed it.
I have broached the surface of body image issues before (here and here) but the whole idea of women being afraid to be themselves or portray themselves differently online, myself included, is an ongoing internal battle inside my head. We talk about it in my AP Language & Composition class- perception vs. reality, and society’s skewed idea of what’s beautiful. I’ll admit, I am part of the problem, I always try and live by the mantra, “women always support women.” But I’m not perfect, I can be catty, I have made fun of Lena Dunham for her weight. Does that make me a monster? Maybe. But I am trying to change. I am trying to not be a hypocrite. I have Facetuned. I have over-whitened my teeth. I have made myself look skinnier in photos. I have made my hair shinier. I used to always edit out the permanent marks on my knees from Barry’s – they’re not pretty but they are a part of me and I definitely earned them. I understand that as a blogger, I willingly put myself in the situation to share a certain percentage of my life on the internet—and I love it. But I also struggle with it all the time. It’s sad that I even feel the need to do any of those things.
It’s so easy to alter the images you put out there. You can pull, tuck, take away dark circles, remove a mole or a pimple, enhance your butt or add volume to your hair—all in the touch of a few buttons using Photoshop or the hundreds of editing apps that are out there. And it’s tempting. I’m guilty of it, we all are. Khloe Kardashian just got busted for this. But when I looked at the images, the original still looked great. And she has worked so hard—she ended up posting the real photo and I applaud her for that. Have I altered photos before? Yes. Will I ever do it again? Maybe. But I don’t want to. Look, obviously I am going to remove a blemish, edit the lint off my clothes or lipstick off my teeth. The irony of social media is something I could go on about for hours. But that is why I love apps like Snapchat. It allows us to show everyone who we really are. I am often wearing no makeup, in leggings, sometimes even Uggs, my house isn’t always clean, and my bed isn’t always made. I really enjoy sharing this side of myself with the world because it feels SO MUCH more authentic.
Leading up to this photo shoot, I had so much anxiety about posing in a swimsuit. And when I first saw them, I was taken aback. Despite all of my hard work in the gym & the kitchen, I was still anxious and unsure of myself.
At first I was like, damn, I look great. But then (literally 5 seconds later), I was critiquing myself. Oh, I should pull in my stomach, or crop that here. I sent the photo to a few girlfriends asking if I was “too chubby” to post it, and being the supportive amazing women that they are, they said “absolutely not.” I still had misgivings; but then I was like, you know what, NO. I have always prided myself on staying authentic, being real, and saying it like it is. And the beast of this business- is that it’s really hard to do that. So are these photos completely unedited? No—the colors and exposure were enhanced so that they look the best. But I didn’t touch my face or my body, as tempting as it was. Did I want to edit out that little roll? Or patch over my cellulite? Obviously. But that isn’t really me. So here I am in all my glory. Will people say, “why is she in a swimsuit on the internet?” Maybe. But I don’t care.
In a world full of people like Cheryl Tiegs who believe that real women have no place on the covers of magazines, I just wanted to do my part to attempt and shift society’s perception. Please don’t get me wrong, Photoshop is amazing for editing photos, but that’s not what I mean. I’m not talking about changing the colors, shadows, exposure, saturation, or even taking care of a zit or eye bags– I mean changing your body to look four sizes smaller than it is. This post is in no way meant to sound judgmental, or hypocritical. I’m not here to “out” other bloggers. I am just trying to say, you are beautiful just the way you are!
P.S. Please head to my shop page to check out my Swim obsessions!
** Photography by Don Miguel Luis. A huge thanks to you, for taking such gorgeous photos and inspiring this post.
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