We all want to present our best side. Even if it’s just a Facebook post to family and friends. But all too often the desire to get rid of that pesky acne breakout, laugh lines, bags under the eyes, excess fat, or double chin can be powerful.
“What can it hurt?”, you tell yourself, “it’s just a little thing and it makes me feel better.” So next thing you know those “little things” grow and change and morph into a perfection far from reality.
Again, what’s the harm?
But many who see those posted pictures feel intimidated and less than beautiful, feeling the need to compare themselves with unrealistic portrayals. According to some estimates, the average person will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime! Think about that, pictures of only you and nothing else.
Social media has endless boundaries and enormous power to make or break how we feel each day, depending on the feedback. It’s a constant loop- take multiple selfies, pick some, edit them, post and wait. . .Repeatedly checking the phone for responses. This constant routine is fueled by dopamine. As seen in one study by The American Marketing Association, whenever one gets a “like” on social media, dopamine is released within the brain, producing a natural “high” which the body craves over time. This conditioned stimulus is similar to the feeling a hug, dinner date or exercising creates. It encourages an endless cycle of questioning ones self, being overly concerned with external opinions and ultimately can lead to a lack of confidence and depression. How many times have you seen someone only to think, “Wow, they look nothing like their pictures?!”
“Exactly how many decades ago was that taken?”
“Wow, Photoshop much?”
And that begs the question, “Why?”
What makes us so self conscious, so uncomfortable with our true selves that we can’t tolerate a picture looking anything less than perfect?
When did aging gracefully become so hard? When did every line, sag, and grey hair we earned through living a full, vibrant and long life, become unacceptable?I look at the pictures my family left behind. Of men and women decades, even hundreds of years in the past. I see character, energy, hardships, love, sadness, heartbreak, and happiness in every one. But what I really see is truth. Pictures that tell a story even I can track today. From birth and childhood years, to marriages, anniversaries, and birthdays. Milestones memorialized forever. Those are the ones we cherish. Even stranger’s faces showing such humanity are proudly displayed in works of art. It’s about time we pushed back in this country and the shame that often goes with natural beauty and aging.
Dove began this movement in 2004 when they launched ads featuring regular women, not models, of all ages, sizes and color. Vogue magazine recently put a plus-size model on its cover (defined as 18 the same as an XL in stores) and the fashion world has begun putting curvier models on the runway. “Even in Paris, a city known for its razor-thin models, signs of hope came via the appearance of Katy Syme and Stella Duval at H&M’s vibrant see-now-buy-now show,” wrote Janelle Okwodu the senior fashion editor for Vogue about the fashion world’s new focus on inclusivity. CVS pharmacy announced their new campaign- #beautyunaltered . Changing nothing can change everything. Stating, “Culture is changing and valuing authenticity more. That is why we are helping set a new standard of beauty, one that is real and transparent. We pledge to only show unaltered photos of models in our advertisements and our contributors like L’Oréal, Revlon, Almay, Maybelline, Nuetrogena, and Covergirl have proudly agreed join us.”
Believe me, I understand the desire to “tweak” my photos. Make them as perfect and flattering as I can. Every time I post one I feel the pressure and tugs to “fix” ever so slightly the imperfections. Who would know? I would. So what you see is what you get. I’m often asked how I deal with it. The simple answer. I don’t dwell on them. I take it, pick one I can live with, make sure it presents what I’m looking for, then let it go. Sometimes I see it later and I’m tempted. Really tempted to pull it down, change it. . .That’s when I turn off my computer. . . and walk away.