As a photographer, retouching skin and body sizes is a pretty normalised thing. When I studied photography, we were taught to tweak any portraits and totally erase any ‘flaws’. Since then, the times have changed of course, but unfortunately, editing ourselves has become easier than ever – and awfully encouraged.
I see ads constantly online for Facetune and apps like it, some of them are downright offensive and are blatant in their fatphobia and racism. I was playing about with Snapchat filters with a friend, and was so shocked to see an app that had three levels of ‘beauty’ – and all it did was make my face look more petite each time. As someone who struggles with their face shape due to my disfigurement, it could really, really have affected me. If I’d seen that a few years ago, I would have sobbed. There are apps that make skin look lighter, or make a person skinnier. It’s disgusting, and I am SO against this. So why should I do this to myself? Why should I get rid of that bit of acne on my chin? Why should I make my waist a little thinner or get rid of my bloat? I can’t preach about body positivity when I’m not being positive about my own body.
Recently, for an ad, Gilette challenged me to post a picture of myself in my underwear for body positivity. I was absolutely terrified to post it but it received so many comments that made me realise that what I perceived as my flaws, were not my flaws at all. NOTHING physically about me is a flaw. My flaws are my inability to wake up in a morning, or the fact I can be a bit of a selfish prick sometimes. A flaw should never be physical.
To be a better person (and I say this all of the time, by the way) we don’t have to be perfect. We just have to acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them. It’s alright to mess up sometimes, but if we don’t learn from our mistakes then we’re quite shitty.
The same goes for the photo editing, I’ve never edited my photos to the extreme, and you hopefully won’t ever catch any of my photos on the Reddit Instagram vs Reality thread, but sometimes I look back at a swollen chin from my cystic hygroma I’ve edited out, or when I’ve made my eyes a little bigger, and cringe because well, I’m not embarrassed by those things anymore. I can’t lie, at first it was hard. Hard not to slap a skin-smoothing filter on or whatever, but now I don’t think twice about going au natural on the gram. My confidence has grown and I am learning to love myself for who I am. I want to do better, BE better, for the next generation. I don’t want them to be scrolling through Instagram and seeing ads for apps to change themselves. Spots, stretch marks, discolouration, bloating, scars – they’re all NORMAL things.
I recently did something that a few months ago I would’ve NEVER be brave enough to do, I let the Instagram account We Define Beauty publish my story to their 100k followers, along with a photo of myself with no makeup, no editing, nothing. Not even a lighting tweak. I feel so liberated for it, and the comments on the post made me realise that really, no one gives a flying fuck if I have spots or not. Or if I’ve put on weight, or if I’m a bit of a short arse. And if they do? Well, they’re a dick.
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Here are some Instagrammers I love, that keep it real:
By unfollowing the people who made me feel shit, and surrounding myself by these utter wonderful people, I feel so inspired and they made me fall in love with Instagram again. So, I’m going Facetune Free and no longer editing my pictures. Apart from you know, like lighting and that because I’m ~so professional with my presets~
PS, the presets I use are Aspen – Digital Film Actions. I love em, and everyone always asks.
Image credit: @jenniferleighf