Could you imagine someone making assumptions about what should be changed about your appearance? Could you imagine getting a photo back of yourself only to see that the freckles you are so proud of were blurred out?
It’s one thing to be requesting these kinds of changes due to personal insecurities you may have, but it is another thing to have these decisions made for you.
Personally, I have never advocated for photoshop. As a photographer, I like to bring out my subject’s natural beauty without using any bodily or facial alterations in my editing process. I have a lot of clients who are terrified of being in front of the camera, but with the right angles, lighting, and poses I can easily give them results that make them feel confident in their own skin. And frankly, that’s my absolute favorite part about being a photographer–it’s all about making people feel happy and showing them that they are more than enough.
For awhile, “photoshop” was referred to as a noun, as in the trademark, “Adobe Photoshop.” The word referred to a specific software, which took a lot of time to master. But in recent years, the idea of “photoshopping” yourself and others has become a social norm. As it became more prevalent, especially among teenage girls, the idea of “photoshop” morphed from term to describe an obscure computer program which only professional photographers used to the common action of altering our own features to fit societal standards of beauty. So the question is: why and when did we start using “photoshop” as a verb? How did “photoshop” become so widespread in our society, especially among young people, that it has become a routine word in colloquial speech?
I believe the answer lies in social media. As the usage of social media exponentially increases over time, our idea of true beauty becomes wildly distorted, often driving us to change our bodies to fit impossible standards. “Photoshop” is just one outlet by which we address our own insecurities.
While it used to take hours upon hours to retouch “flaws”, such as wrinkles or cellulite, we now live in a harmful era where we can do this right at our fingertips. It seems like there are a million different apps that enable us to shrink our waists or smooth over our acne. Almost every photo seen in pop culture now is retouched in some way. These altered images are everywhere from magazine covers to influencers’ Instagram posts. As a result, we begin to think that this is normal, that this is the way that everyone should look. And these unrealistic depictions in mass media lead to greater issues; rises in depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health issues are becoming more apparent. Teenage girls, especially, become obsessed with creating this “perfect” online alter-ego. While this facade on social media may make you feel good in the moment, once you put your phone down, you realize that the Instragram version of yourself is not 100% real. So instead of working to feel good about how you look on somebody else’s screen, work to feel confident when you look in the mirror in the morning! In the end, that is what will help you find true happiness.
Society needs to realize that there is no such thing as the “perfect body”. No one walks around with naturally smooth and glowing skin. We all have wrinkles, scars, bumps and other “imperfections.” But this is precisely the issue; we need to stop thinking of these features as “imperfections.” They are simply signs that we are human, and that is something to celebrate. All these unique qualities make us who we are, and that is beautiful.
You are beautiful. Period. And you should never feel the need to change yourself for anybody else. So let’s stop “photoshopping” ourselves and others around us and start embracing our own natural beauty.