What’s Up With That? is a blog series in which I explore how I have been feeling and some of life’s most important questions. These posts are unedited (apart from the odd spelling mistake) and not pre thought about. They are what’s on my mind during the ten minutes that I take to write about them.
As a teacher of teenage girls, looking after teenage girls and having teenage sisters this is a topic that is so very important to me.
This month I wanted to talk about beauty and the retouching of photographs, specifically in magazines and online media and what beauty is. I don’t think that I will focus too much on sticking a filter on images but actually going into a photograph and altering how somebody physically looks from erasing wrinkles to looking at the body and changing how that looks.
This is something that we see all the time, I mean we are completely bombarded with these images but we have become so conditioned to them that we don’t even realize that this is the case. I think that lots of us will have seen the horror stories of models, actresses or celebrities saying that they have turned up to a photo shoot and they have had a botched ‘photo shop job.’ I think that this can be scary and is worrying as it is often happening without their or our, the intended audience’s, knowledge.
I’m sure that there are some people who are totally OK with it, especially if they have some type of control over it and they know that it is happening to them or the pictures that they are looking at. I mean who are we to say not to do it… but when it is not being done with that person’s knowledge or permission I think that is different. This is obviously something that I have never had to contend with but I don’t think that I would deal with it very well. I would hate to see a picture that just didn’t look like me.
As time goes on, for me personally, I think that there is so much beauty in the natural human being. Whether we are looking at a celebrity or just a ‘normal person’, the beauty that I see in our world is not just found in the 6ft, size 2, or below, models that grace the catwalks or smile up at us as we flip through a magazine. These women are beautiful. But so are all women and men of different shapes, colours and ages.
I’m starting to see things on my body and face that weren’t there when I was younger and that is only going to continue to happen and I know that I will continue to change as I get older. I want to embrace every part of who I am, including the things that I am not so crazy about at first. We need to stop magazines, Hollywood and beyond define what beauty is for us. It should never be about us trying to adhere to a specific magazine’s idea of beauty (because how bloody unrealistic and soul destroying is that), it is about creating your own image of beauty and what you find personally beautiful about yourself and finding comfort in who you are, your body and the way it looks. That to me is what beauty is, when a person finds comfort and acceptance with who they are and realize that this is enough. That they don’t need to alter or look different-to bow down to the pressures that our planet is asking them to burden.
I think that there is so many things in life that just come down to acceptance and it’s just about accepting other people’s visions of beauty too. These may not necessarily match yours or mine.
I think that there is so much that can change in this area for the better of everyone. I see just how damaging it can be, especially for the teenage girls that I teach. The are bombarded with altered pictures a hundreds of times each day and it can at times seem that no one is talking about it. It isn’t just in magazines but is also blasted all over the social media that they spend far too many hours on a day too. I see first hand the damage that it can do. This girls look up to celebrities, models and others in a way that we never did growing up in the 90s or early 00’s. We may have plastered posters of the Spice Girls, Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears on our walls but I can never once remember having a conversation about their bodies or their ‘perfection’ with my friends. We just liked their music and what they wore. If we did at least we didn’t constantly have their altered bodies thrust in our faces in the few seconds that it takes for an Instagram photo to be retouched and uploaded.
It is hard enough being a teenager today. I wouldn’t do it for any grand sum of money. We must make it easier for them. If you are a teenage girl or have a daughter and find yourself reading this then check out magazines like Darling. Whilst they maybe slightly more expensive, they refuse to retouch or alter photographs and the women that grace their pages are glorious too. It is also contains articles that may challenge your minds a little more than just the fashion, beauty or celebrity gossip that you can often find in the cheaper alternatives. I’m not trying to belittle fashion, beauty or celebrity gossip but I like to read about The Arts, Technology, and Politics too.
It is not a surprise to me that the average age for the diagnosis of depression, anxiety and eating disorders has plummeted as social media has surged in popularity. Do the world a favour and ditch the filters and fancy editing software and lets celebrate woman and men in their true form. There is nothing more beautiful than that! That can only happen when we start to do it first.
We live in a world in which people are just presenting the highlights of their lives online and I understand it and do it too. Who wants to see a picture of me after I have had a panic attack and cried for hours. But we must start being braver. I really think it will make the world of difference for those that need it the most!
I have been conditioned to always look my best. We all have. We have all been conditioned to turn down compliments and to never promote our own value and beauty. Let’s embrace what makes us different. Let’s not be ashamed to say fuck ‘I look pretty damn beautiful today. Let us find the courage to say ‘I am enough.’
The can be a very ‘touchy’ subject for people and the more I talk about it the more I realize this. I think that many people will agree with me and many more won’t. I would love to know what you think and to keep this conversation going.
Other What’s Up With That posts: