Why We Don't Need to
Photoshop Our Bodies
A few weeks ago I posted a couple of images on Instagram from my beautiful trip to Malaysia with the Self Portrait team and I loved them so much they'll be coming to a blog post very soon. They featured me posing on a boat, in the latest Self Portrait swimwear launch, acting out my best Pirate's of the Caribbean life. What a few of you picked up on was that apart from adjusting the brightness/contrast/colouring of the image like Alex and I love to play about with, I left my stretch marks untouched and in plain sight.
This wasn't to make a point or to start a discussion but after a little thought I felt I wanted to talk about why I made that choice and why most people seemed to offer so much praise. They're not huge, there's only a few of them and in the right lighting you don't even see them, so why shouldn't I show them. Here are the reasons why none of us should feel the need to photoshop.
I know it's not easy to love and embrace ourselves, flaws and all but even if it's the tiniest of progress, I try everyday to love a little bit more of myself. We all have hang ups and things we wish we could change, no matter our size and shape, but the smallest of steps I can take to improve my own thoughts about myself, I will always try to take. Yes I have certain angles that I believe flatter me, as I believe we all do, but I've always ensured that I never altered my body for social media. In honesty, in the past I wouldn't post a certain image if I didn't feel I looked my best, or I'd crop my images so that certain body areas weren't in sight. At that time, I would rather crop than photoshop myself into a body shape that isn't realistic, and therefore present unattainable images to anyone that may come across my photos online. There's certainly a trend on social media to present an image of perfection and although I definitely embrace Instagram as a highlight reel of the best parts/experiences/adventures in my life, I don't want to feed into the image of perfectionism more than social media already does. I too have hang ups that are triggered by images I see, and I don't want to be someone that triggers someone else to feel bad about their own body. And therefore, recently I've built up my confidence to post all of me, the real me and the body that I'm trying to look after more and more.
I don't know one person who loves every aspect of their body or face, a shame as that is. Regardless of someone's size or shape, we will often all have body hang ups and imperfections and so it's important that those in the public eye have a responsibility to be authentic. Those people who choose to follow you didn't sign up for unrealistic, perfectly photoshopped bodies. And this isn't just aimed at influencers, bloggers and social media celebrities; this is every single one of us who will have some impact on the next generation of social media users. I've grown up staring at models with skin so smooth I've hated my own, with legs so long I've hated my own and with a butt so perky I've hated my own. I would never ever want someone to look at my pictures and feel sad, and that's half of the reason I'm an advocate for the unfollow button. Only follow the accounts and the people that enrich your life and your mental health, choose to unfollow if you ever feel yourself suffering because of someone else's image.
I think it always helps to remember that those models we see on the Victoria's Secret runway and those people we see on the front cover of the biggest magazines in the world, quite often have access to exercise regimes, personal trainers and extreme diets that are unattainable for and to the masses. No one is perfect and I believe that should be seen as the norm - because it is the norm. Dimples, stretch marks, cellulite, spots, hair, wrinkles - we all have them and we shouldn't be afraid to embrace them. I'm at a place in my life where I now recognise the need to look after myself more than I ever have but thats's for my own sake not for the sake of others. I will continue to chat about how great I feel when I exercise regularly and how I feel when I nourish my body and even more so about how my mental health flourishes when I take care of myself. Because I feel promoting a healthy lifestyle is perfectly acceptable and somewhat essential. But I certainly don't want to present an image of myself that is false.
You are you, you are beautiful and you are perfect as you are. Take time for yourself and embrace the things in life that make you a richer, happier person. Life is too short to worry about lumps, bumps and everything in-between and remember social media is what you make it. It can empower just as much as it can break someone down. Choose your words and images carefully, and more importantly have the next impressionable generation in mind always.