Looking Like Myself While Searching for Myself
Lately I have been bombarded on Instagram with ads for apps to photoshop my selfies.
I love selfies. I admit it.
Although I will also admit that I like them much much better when I look nice.
One day late last summer we took the dog to the beach, and he was so adorable. I was snapping pics with my phone like crazy. Of course, in the bright sunlight I couldn’t see what I was shooting. When we went back to the car and I got a look at my photos, I was appalled to find that I had inadvertently flipped the camera around, and I had 47 shots of me, not the dog. And although I was laughing and delighted at the dog’s antics, happiness and delight was not what I looked liked. No. Nope. Sorry. What I looked like was:
I was mugging and grinning like an idiot as I encouraged my pooch. I suppose I should have saved at least one of them so I could illustrate my complete goofiness. No. Nope. Sorry. I couldn’t delete those 47 photos fast enough.
I recognize that sometimes I look good and sometimes I look awful. And that people looking at me see both. But I have convinced myself that, since I am my own worst critic, my friends and family mostly see me as I am in my best photos. And if I destroy the evidence that sometimes I look unstellar, I can be content with my looks.
Which brings me back to photoshop apps.
The latest technology is incredibly robust. We are no longer talking about retouching. More like re-mauling.
We are not talking about blurring out a blemish. We are talking about turning your skin into glowing alabaster. You can change your hair both color and style and thickness. You can change your eye color and add liner and lashes. You can plump up you lips and lengthen your neck.
But even though I am desperate to look beautiful in photographs, what I really want is not to look beautiful, but to BE beautiful.
By this I mean – I want to look like myself.
I want to look as beautiful as possible, but I want to be considered beautiful for what I actually look like. Not for some superimposed technology.
We already have impossible standards of beauty. Idealized versions that are getting more unobtainable every day.
We are never enough.
Even a woman as amazingly beautiful as Scarlett Johansson. Her photos get retouched because in this world her amazing beauty is not quite amazingly beautiful enough.
Which Scarlett should a teenage girl aspire to look like?
How about this one?
Impossible standards are just that – impossible. Trying to look like a movie star – who doesn’t even really look like the photo you are looking at – well, that is as self-destructive as whacking yourself with a pretty stick.
So photoshopping my selfies?
If it is depressing to compare myself to unrealistic Hollywood standards, I can just imagine how depressing it would be if the unrealistic standard was a phony picture of myself. I may understand why I can’t look as good as a movie star, but when I can’t even look as good as ME??? Why, every time I looked in the mirror I would cry.
Not measuring up to myself? WTF?
I don’t want to be a picture of myself to be better than the real thing.
I have no problem with fixing a stray hair. Or wearing a little (or more) makeup. Or taking pictures when the lighting is flattering.
But artificially making myself more beautiful than I am?
Well. I think I am beautiful enough.