Beauty Redefined Blog

Physically Photoshopping Ourselves Out of Reality

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When the digital world of female faces and bodies looks nothing like the natural world, is it any wonder that women have turned to physical alteration to meet the unreal standards? The possibility of achieving unnatural ideals through enhancements, procedures and products is a game-changer for what women today are capable of looking like. But what about their daughters, students and coworkers? What will their own  ”flawed” forms look like in comparison to that manipulated reality? With our own game-changing suggestions, we see an opportunity for a much more beautiful future.

You’ve heard about the epidemic of digital manipulation across media. Photoshopping, or other forms of image manipulation, is now an all-out media industry standard according to the likes of women’s magazine editors across the country (one of the most dangerous offenders). Plus, more than 60 percent of girls today admit to Photoshopping their OWN photos on their social networks. But this isn’t just a problem with print images.  This is a problem with our own self-images and our own actual appearances. Henry Farid, a Dartmouth Professor who specializes in digital forensics, put it quite succinctly: “The more and more we use this editing, the higher and higher the bar goes. They’re creating things that are physically impossible. We’re seeing really radical digital plastic surgery…big breasts, tiny waist, ridiculously long legs, elongated neck. All the body fat is removed, all the wrinkles are removed, the skin is smoothed out.” But you don’t have to be a professor to see this impossibly high bar being raised higher by the minute.

photoshoppedThese billions of images of women in media far outnumber the females we could ever see eye to eye, and that reinforces a distorted idea of what we should like. Not even just what it takes to be the most desirable or beautiful – but what a regular, normal, average woman looks like. And we act out these distorted ideals of normal and attainable in very real ways – in our daily beauty endeavors and our beauty plans. Some of these examples may seem like a bit of a stretch, but consider them as strategies we use to take the unreal ideals we see in a lifetime of media use and impose them upon our own bodies to try to attain the reality we see mediated to us. Some of these examples may be part of your life or your plans for your life and others may not, but all of them represent the ways we quite literally physically “Photoshop” ourselves out of reality:

  • Cosmetic surgery: breast augmentation, liposuction, body contouring, lifts, tucks
  • Botox
  • Diet Pills
  • Tanning or skin lightening
  • Collagen facial fillers and lip injections
  • Lash extensions and prescriptions
  • Pore minimizing makeup and skin care
  • Anti-aging creams, lotions, gels
  • Laser hair removal
  • Tattooed makeup
  • Anti-cellulite procedures
  • Teeth whitening

We can’t help but imagine how different our world looked just a decade or two ago – not just in terms of what women in media looked like when digital manipulation was only science fiction – but what women in real life looked like. Cosmetic surgery was nearly non-existent. In just the last decade, there was a 446 percent increase in cosmetic procedures (namely liposuction and breast enhancement) in the U.S., which raked in $12 billion in 2010 alone. Tanning beds were hard to find and extra pricey when found. Laser hair removal was non-existent. Tattooed makeup like eyeliner and lip liner was unheard of. Collagen lip injections and facial fillers hadn’t yet seen the light of day. Lash lengthening prescriptions weren’t conceived of, anti-cellulite procedures and gels weren’t on the market, teeth whitening wasn’t an everyday activity, pore-minimizing and anti-aging products were marketed by very few. Armpit beautifying lotion would have been laughable, as would butt-shaping shoes (especially for 8-year-old girls, but thankfully Skechers has filled that hole in the industry!).

Women inevitably looked different back then. Today, we see women presented to us all hours of the day in every form of media that do not look like women 20 years ago OR women you see face to face. And yet, over time, many of us come to hold ourselves to that unattainable standard that appears so normal and unquestioned as we physically Photoshop ourselves out of reality.

What does our world look like for little girls growing up today? What about for women growing older in a world that looks radically different than it did when they grew up? And how much pain, energy and time will they have to put into physically Photoshopping themselves out of reality? To be sure, it doesn’t come naturally. Each year, women put hundreds of billions of dollars into the latest procedures, products and prescriptions to try to reach that “bar” the wide world of media is raising.

But we raise that bar for ourselves and our daughters when we take part in our own physical Photoshopping. We raise that bar for females everywhere when we physically manipulate ourselves in attempts to meet a profit-driven standard that is inherently unattainable.

The line is different for every woman, and no woman should be shamed or blamed for how she chooses to enact “beauty.” We’re in this fight together! These messages telling us we are not worthy of love, happiness or success unless we are unattainably beautiful, thin, and sexually desirable are lies, but they are powerful. To the girls and women reading this: If beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong. (In the U.S., we got this statement on billboards as a much-needed reminder!) We grasp the reality of our beauty when we begin to see ourselves for what our beauty really entails, and not what industries would have us believe: scars from years of playing, freckles from the sun, wrinkles from smiling and laughing and living, cheerfulness in spite of trials, selflessness when there are so many reasons to turn inward, musical gifts, the ability to solve math problems with ease, the ways we join together with other women instead of gossip and judge, the time and care we offer our families and friends, and the list goes on and on and on.

We are in the midst of a beautiful reality that is ours once we recognize it and grasp hold of it. And studies show that when we can learn to love ourselves – despite the beauty ideals we are surrounded by and cannot obtain – it shows! Recent studies show us that girls who don’t like their bodies or appreciate them – regardless of their actual appearance – become more sedentary over time and pay less attention to having a healthy diet. And that makes sense. If you think you’re gross and worthless, why would you take care of yourself?

On the flipside of that study, research has found that girls who feel good about themselves and respect their bodies – regardless of what they look like - are more likely to be physically active and eat healthy. They are less likely to gain unnecessary weight and they make healthy lifestyle choices far into the future. How we think about our bodies and our beauty has everything to do with how we treat ourselves. When we can learn to love and respect ourselves, regardless of how our bodies appear, it shows! We must learn this now and we must begin to teach the little girls in our lives how beautiful their realities are and can always be.

highfiveHere’s an outrageous idea: What would happen if confident, happy, beautiful women decided to forego painful and expensive anti-aging procedures, breast lifts and enhancements, liposuction, all over hair removal or tanning regimens? How could that change the way their daughters, students, friends, nieces and coworkers perceived themselves and their own “flawed,” lined, real faces? Their own varied-looking and perfectly functional breasts, behinds, thighs, arms and abs? How could simply owning and (treating kindly and speaking nicely about) our so-called “imperfect” bodies affect not only our own lives, but those over whom we have influence? Is it possible to slowly but deliberately change the perception of these “flaws” as something to shame, hide and fix at any cost to something acceptable and embraceable in all their human, womanly real-ness? We say yes.

What if we stopped Photoshopping or altering our own photos to fit unreal ideals, including family portraits and even kids’ school photos, which are now sold in packages that include blemish removal and teeth whitening, among other manipulations of reality? What if we stopped imposing our current perceptions of beauty and flawlessness on our own families in this small way, and allowed pictures to capture what we really look like — even in those awkward adolescent years? Don’t we want our posterity to see our reality, instead of a manipulated version of what we thought we or our children should look like in order to be acceptable?

A real photo of “enhancement options” included in an Arizona elementary school’s student photo package.

Yes, maybe all the other girls at school are getting the Photoshopped school photo package. And yes, maybe every 55-year-old woman on TV or movies has a wrinkle-free, perfectly injected and lifted face that appears ageless. But when I look at my own mom, who I’ve never doubted is incredibly beautiful, and I see her very real face with very natural smile lines, it makes me feel OK about the newly appearing creases around my own eyes. My first thought isn’t how unnatural and unacceptable those lines are and how quick I can start my first round of Botox. It’s that they’re OK. They’re normal. They don’t detract from me. They make me ME. 

My mom doesn’t need injections in her face to fix anything or make her more beautiful, and I don’t either. But if she ever decides to, I would understand. The pressure to Photoshop ourselves into hopeful conformity with beauty ideals is intense, and backlash against female aging is unbelievable. At 28, I frankly don’t yet grasp the real pain and anxiety that undoubtedly accompanies aging and its effects on female faces and bodies that become invisible and worthless in some ways to a society that prizes youthful beauty over all else.

But if my mom doesn’t succumb to the pressure to change her physical reality and, in turn, my own reality of what women’s faces and bodies can look like and should look like, I will be forever grateful. My own smile lines will show it. In turn, I will proudly show my future children, nieces, nephews, or students my un-altered middle school photos, bushy eyebrows and all. Let’s preserve our beautiful reality for ourselves and for the future generations (inlcuding those growing up today) who deserve to see what’s real, rather than the ideals we chose to embrace digitally and physically.

One great way to support this nonprofit and our work with Beauty Redefined is to slap our uplifting sticky notes on that Photoshopped magazine cover in the grocery aisle, an objectifying public advertisement, or even a public bathroom mirror to remind girls and women ”There is more to BE than eye candy” and “You are capable of much more than looking hot.” Check out our original slogans and designs here. It’s one of our new favorite pastimes!

  1. Michelle
    Michelle06-02-2011

    I’m even a bit frustrated by how Photoshop has taken over more day-to-day photography as well…of families, weddings, individuals, etc. It’s like you can’t look at a photo anymore and believe that it represents truth.

    • Kasey
      Kasey06-02-2011

      Haha..my sister and I were JUST talking about that!! Most people don’t seem to take REAL pictures anymore!

      • Beauty Redefined
        Beauty Redefined06-02-2011

        So true! It makes me wonder effect that will have on how people in the future perceive people from today … won’t it look like people don’t have wrinkles or cellulite or stray hairs or acne or braces?? I love being able to see pictures of my relatives from back in the day and how normal they look, but without some serious self-restraint from people today, no one’s posterity will get to see what they actually look like! Sad, right?

        • Peyton
          Peyton03-22-2012

          I have done some part time family/kids photography and have a lot of photographers I “like” on facebook. I find that I’m actually drawing myself away from the looks they are coming up with. There is that fine line between a bright, sparkly eye and crazy, alien eyes that are so manipulated they don’t look like that in person. I’ve wondered, too, about what future generations are going to think that we looked like in the 2000s. Of course, we ALL had perfect skin and super-sharp, glassy eyes! ;)

    • Kimi P.
      Kimi P.08-08-2011

      As a photographer this is something I face every day. It is often a struggle to convince clients that there is no point taking a picture that doesn’t look like they really do!

      I can understand, and appreciate, that when they spend money to have a professional portrait done they want to look their best… But if I remove all their freckles, pores, age spots, wrinkles, take that extra 10 pounds off and cover the gray then it’s not *their* best anymore. It then becomes a caricature of what they think should be their best…

      My own philosophy on Photoshop- I will use it to remove anything temporary (acne, stray hair, wrinkle in your shirt, etc.) but will strenuously try to talk my clients out of removing anything that is permanent (wrinkles, scars, freckles, moles, etc.).

      Ultimately though, photography is a personal service and my job is to make sure clients are thrilled with their portraits. People want flattering pictures, and for many companies it has become easier to Photoshop them flatteringly than to take the time to learn lighting, camera angles and posing.

    • Lara
      Lara09-19-2011

      I always wonder about the accuracy of painted portraits for that very reason. Did Shakespeare *really* look like that? Was, perhaps, Queen Elizabeth much heavier or have a bulbous nose that a painter took care of? I often think that we only have about a century of accurate physical representations in history – photography before digital manipulation.

    • Justin Germino
      Justin Germino02-25-2013

      I photoshop nothing, take it or leave it, I don’t buy into the digital manipulation of how people really look. My wife however doesn’t like it when I take her picture and hates sharing pictures of us on Facebook unless she likes the shot, though doesn’t go so far as to touch them up or alter them. The industry needs to change and shift toward natural beauty in my opinion.

  2. Jo Princess Warrior
    Jo Princess Warrior06-02-2011

    We are constantly told that we are flawed as women….when in fact, they are not flaws, but unique markings.

    Love what you do as a team in the fight to redefine beauty!

  3. Pamela
    Pamela06-02-2011

    I can totally relate to the statement about feeling good about yourself makes you take better care of yourself. When I had my daughter almost 3 years ago I was bound and determined to do anything in my power to prevent her from going down the road of self-loathing that I went through as an adolscent. Even though I was a size 4-6, skin that people constantly complemented for it’s color and clarity and a head of long dark thick hair that the blonds I envied probably wished they had, I didn’t like myself and constantly saw the flaws. Now, even though I am still about 35 lbs overweight, I have been taking better care of myself for myself and my kids (I now also have a precious boy to be a good role model for) because I want them to see their mother taking care of and loving her body, the body that carried them through pregnancy and sustained them for a year after their birth. We eat organic, mostly vegetarian/non dairy and without even trying, I have lost more than 10 lbs in the last several months and am feeling better than I have in a long time. It is all about self-perception that creates the reality.
    Love your stuff, keep up the good work.

    • Pamela
      Pamela06-02-2011

      I guess I should of elaborated that that self-loathing led to me gaining 50 lbs in one year and struggling to lose it over the last 15 years…only now with a new perspective and love of my body is the weight actually coming off, almost effortlessly.

      • Beauty Redefined
        Beauty Redefined06-02-2011

        Your example illustrates that happy fact perfectly! Body hatred gets us absolutely nowhere – and definitely not closer to beauty ideals or happiness. Thanks for sharing your own personal experience with learning to love yourself and passing that along to your undoubtedly beautiful family!

  4. Amy Harman
    Amy Harman06-02-2011

    I love the idea of not “photoshopping” ourselves out of reality by engaging in extreme measures to change our bodies to look more “beautiful”! I don’t want to do those things to my body for several reasons, but one of them is that I don’t want to contribute to raising the bar. I don’t want other women to feel “flawed” when they are around me because I’ve spent money to make myself look younger, thinner, bustier, etc. I especially don’t want the younger generation to feel pressure to live up to unachievable beauty standards. I want to be a “real” woman! And I believe that being “real” is the most attractive attribute someone can have!

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-05-2011

      I love your conscious choices! That awareness of the impact on others regarding your beauty choices is so key. Yay for being “real!”

    • gaylene
      gaylene10-04-2011

      I feel this way, too, even when it comes to hair color and make up. I always want to look my best, but I think it’s sad that we can love a man exactly the way he is, but as women we can’t be “beautiful” until we cover up our faces and change the way we look.

  5. Cameo
    Cameo06-03-2011

    Great post. I loved, “If beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong.” I will have to keep that in mind…
    It’s pretty crazy how these images of perfection infiltrate our minds without us consciously realizing. I have recently wondered, “have people become better looking?” After reading this, it made me think that it has to do with how we are “photo-shopping ourselves” more and more. However, on the flip-side, what’s wrong with taking advantage of technology? A little botox to offset a couple years of drinking and smoking? I don’t deny that were I of the means I wouldn’t spring for a couple shots. But after reading this, I wonder if I would have felt the same were in my mid-30′s 10-15 years ago.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-05-2011

      I’ve wondered the same thing when watching old TV shows or even looking at old yearbooks! And I think the answer really is this new phenomenon of self-photoshopping. As for your other question – in my opinion, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using technology to make changes to our appearances. It’s everyone’s right if they have the means and the will. The problems come with the serious health implications that come from these cosmetic procedures and what we’ve discussed here, with the potentially harmful influence on younger people and the ridiculous standards we’re holding ourselves and, in turn, our friends and loved ones to inadvertently. You make a great point about whether or not you would have felt so comfortable with the whole Botox idea just 10-15 years ago. I think most people would have thought a little harder about facial muscle-freezing injections back then than they do now!

  6. Tam
    Tam06-03-2011

    I didn’t realize how prevalent this was until about a year ago. I picked up a women’s magazine and saw that Ellen Degeneres was the new Cover Girl. I nearly laughed when I saw her picture, her face was so smooth and wrinkle free. I had been watching her judge on American Idol and knew she looked nothing like that. Since then, I’ve noticed more and more the editing of pictures. I’m so grateful for your website because I want to my daughter to have confidence in herself and not compare herself to an unattainable image. Thanks for your blog!!!

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined06-05-2011

      You are so very welcome, Tam! That awareness you’re gaining is so crucial! Thank goodness for loving moms like you to help guide daughters through such a ridiculous media world.

  7. Sara Grambusch
    Sara Grambusch06-03-2011

    Wonderful article. I have stayed away from so called “Health and Fitness” magazines for a long time now due to their warped messages, but now things like this are in EVERY magazine and piece of material culture. If it is so difficult for an adult to consciously avoid and ignore, I can’t image the consequences on an impressionable, young girl searching for identity and role models.

  8. Beauty Redefined
    Beauty Redefined06-05-2011

    Thanks, Sara! Young girls definitely have some scary forces working against their body images and self-perceptions, so keeping the conversation going about these distorted and dangerous ideals is so crucial. And if we can take a stand and make conscious decisions for our own beauty routines with young girls in mind, I truly believe we can take back some power in our own individual circles.

  9. Aunt Tammy
    Aunt Tammy06-09-2011

    You girls are doing a great job! I loved the part about looking at your mother’s face and knowing it’s okay to grow old and have a few wrinkles. Just remember we come from strong, intelligent and capable women – and it looks like that is continuing! I love both of you and am very proud of you.

  10. Emily
    Emily06-10-2011

    Reading this made me think of the last movie in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe series. The younger sister wishes to be beautiful (which she believes her sister is the prime example of). Using a spell she sees what it would be like to be beautiful but finds that everyone is calling her by her sister’s name. Aslan (The Lion, no idea how to spell it) comes and tells her she was wishing herself away, trying to be someone else.
    I thought of Beauty Redefined while I watched this scene in the movie. I loved it!

    It is crazy how much the media tells us we must all look the same in order to stand out. Doesn’t make much sense to me. :)

  11. Redstocking Grandma
    Redstocking Grandma06-11-2011

    I changed my blog and twitter backgrounds to highlight the major way I am embracing aging–my silver hair.

    • Beauty Redefined
      Beauty Redefined07-08-2011

      LOVE love love this! Your silver hair is beautiful. So wonderful that you have embraced it!

  12. Jayme
    Jayme07-13-2011

    Loved this article! I have small breasts and I find that I am increasingly offended when women are derogatory towards their own breasts calling them “mosquito bites” or “pancakes” or whatever and subsequently use that as their reason for why they “had” to get breast implants. As though small breasts represent a deformity. Small breasts are beautiful and sexy and it makes me mad that implants are just rampant! And why isn’t it against the rules for beauty pageant contestants to get surgery? This is akin to steroid-use in athletics. And lastly, I am GRATEFUL that my mom is not into all this stuff. She’s 100% natural and very comfortable with herself and it is a great gift to me. Thank you mom!

    • Aimee
      Aimee08-18-2011

      I bought this crazy bra several weeks ago that suddenly makes me some kind of B cup. Even when I had it on in the shop, part of me was uncomfortable about it, but I bought it anyway.
      Later on I was telling my mum about the things I’d bought and said “I have major buyer’s remorse about that bra. It just feels… fraudulent?”.
      Since then, every time I’ve thought about wearing it I’ve decided not to. If I hadn’t lost the receipt I’d return it. But I guess it can just sit in the drawer as a reminder that even though a tiny part of me sometimes thinks “this would look better if you had boobs to fill it out”, that’s obviously not what I want (even if it’s pretend and temporary). I’ve never truly wanted bigger breasts, I guess it’s nice to finally realise that.

  13. Kate
    Kate08-08-2011

    HELL YES! AMEN :)

  14. Deb
    Deb08-10-2011

    Fantastic article. Thank you. Every day, there are women who wake up feeling flawed, less-than. Young girls see an unattainable beauty standard and feel defeated by something that is false and manipulated. I want to see Real Women – curvaceous, grey haired, laugh lines and all.

  15. Lisa
    Lisa08-22-2011

    I love the idea of embracing our signs of life, like badges of courage.

    However, I can’t wait until we can just stop talking about our appearance, altogether. Wouldn’t it be great if women’s looks just weren’t on the table for discussion? If it weren’t fodder for conversation, dissection, judgment good and bad? We’re a long way from there, and I realize acceptance of reality is the first step, but I can’t wait until we can just drop the conversation altogether.

    I mean, how much time do boys spend thinking about how they look? How often is, “What a cute outfit!” the first thing they hear from someone?

    I realize this is a whole ‘nother subject and I don’t mean to sidetrack the conversation.

    I wholeheartedly agree about wanting to see the lines, see the signs of life. Vive la difference!

  16. Katie
    Katie11-30-2011

    What bugs me most- is when men insist that they want women to be all natural! “You’re more beautiful without all that caked-on crap, when you’re just yourself!”
    This is bologna, though. They don’t really recognize how much make-up women are wearing, and they quite literally prefer women to wear juuuuust enough make-up to look ‘natural’. Just some bronzer, a quick coat of mascara, and don’t forget the eye shadow!
    I have seen countless magazine articles about this sort of issue, and they help women to play the game.
    When will the media finally learn to take it easy, and love the actually natural bodies of half of the population??
    I don’t wear any make-up, and I swear, I am told that I look less natural than many women that I know that spend at least an hour on their appearance every day. Bugs the crap outta me.

  17. mimi
    mimi12-01-2011

    Overall, I really enjoyed this article. I think that it is important that women take a stand against impossible images of “beauty” in this digital world of ours. Though I’ve heard a lot of criticism about the Skechers “butt-toning” shoes for girls recently and I’d just like to say that those shoes do a lot more than tone your butt. They also help improve your posture and your feet. My husband and I both wear them. He because he has back problems that they really help with, and me because they are helping to correct the fact that my feet turn outward severely when I walk. So, its not just about “butt-toning”.

    But now that that is off my chest, thank you for a good article. :) *clicks link for sticky note things*

  18. Jess
    Jess12-02-2011

    I’ve struggled so often with feeling worthless because of my looks, and this is despite a devoted husband who thinks I’m drop dead gorgeous and half a dozen friends who all think I’m stunning(I think THEY’RE stunning! Go figure :P ). So often I look in the mirror and see only flaws. Now, this is largely due to having depression, but also due to unfairly comparing myself to unrealistic beauty ideals.
    I also recall my sister in law telling us about her then 8 year old, beautiful girl, who has hair like liquid gold, fair skin and rosy lips telling her mother she (herself, the 8 yr old daughter) was fat. There are sticks thinner than this tall, leggy child. My niece did this because of all the times she’d heard her mother complaining about her own looks and weight.
    An eight year old child who doesn’t even know boys exist, saying she’s fat. My sister in law was shocked, to say the least.

    This is the impact we have on our children. I only hope I can be a good example to my future children of how to be happy and content with themselves.

  19. The Brides' Maid
    The Brides' Maid06-29-2012

    When I first started reading the list of ways we are photoshopping ourselves, I have to admit that I was thinking “Really? These things are really not that big of a deal and they help us feel better about ourselves”. That’s when the confident part of me stepped in and reminded myself that I don’t need these things to be beautiful. We are turning ourselves into live dolls that all look the same. There is no shame in looking the best you can, but you need to look like the best YOU that you can be. The best freckles, the best wrinkles, the best stretch marks from the beautiful babies you’ve had. I am not a living doll, I am a real, beautiful woman.

    Thank you for this!

  20. Natalia
    Natalia06-29-2012

    I’ve been enjoying your articles tremendously for about a year now. Wonderful, thorough, well-researched stuff!

    Now, because these are issues I deal and often struggle with in my personal life, I wanted to ask how you reconcile these beliefs with your personal grooming/beauty routines. I can tell from your photos on the “How we got here” page that you wear makeup. You might or might not get rid of your body hair. These two issues and especially makeup are of great interest — and conflict — to me. What makes it okay, in your mind, for you to both wear makeup /and/ argue that women should not Photoshop themselves out of reality (while working under the assumption that makeup is a way that we do this)?

    Unfortunately, I haven’t come across much research on the subject. I don’t know why it seems that feminist theorists have not tackled the issue of makeup as much as they have that of body hair and heels.

    I’m interested in any thoughts you may have on the subject, and would love to see posts about makeup in relation to identity and patriarchal femininity.

    Love and respect,
    Nat

  21. Beauty Redefined
    Beauty Redefined07-18-2012

    Nat, That is a fantastic question. It’s an important issue that each woman really has to confront for herself regarding where to draw the line between what’s oppressive, harmful, “physically photoshopping,” etc, and what is acceptable, comfortable and appropriate. You’re right, Lexie and I both wear makeup (although quite minimal) and we both even highlight our hair occasionally. We shave our legs, pluck our eyebrows and love clothes/jewelry shopping. For both of us, those commonplace routines fit in with our paradigms of what is appropriate — though we both readily acknowledge the double-standard that exists between male and female expectations. I think there are two important points of this issue I’ve considered: 1) the reality we’ve grown up in and are surrounded by, where makeup and leg-shaving is a routine and unquestioned expectation. I started both in 7th grade and it became part of my regular routine. In many ways, that choice to wear makeup is influenced by cultural pressures like looking put-together and well-kempt (which unfortunately affects opportunities for speaking engagements and media appearances in some cases) and even attracting dating partners. I readily acknowledge that I am influenced by that pressure. However, to make sure I’m not relying on makeup to make me look like “myself” or letting it stop me from going out in public, I often go makeup-free to places like the gym, the pool and shopping just to keep myself in check. In that vein, I do consider my role in physically photoshopping myself and what influence that has on others. Every guy I’ve dated and friend I’ve ever had has seen me with no makup and looking pretty dang real on a regular basis, and my future children will see my own reality more than anyone as I try to set that example for them. The other thing I’ve strongly considered on this issue is the “if beauty hurts, we’re doing it wrong” slogan that we use so frequently. For me, I do avoid the beauty routines and procedures that hurt me. I use that as a measure by which to judge any appearance-related options. The makeup I wear and the other beauty routines I engage in do not hurt me, so they don’t cross that mental line I’ve drawn. For some, my line might be way too strict, and for others it will be way too far into oppressive patriarchal forces territory. For now, I’m comfortable with my own choices, but I’m fully in support of anyone who chooses to forego beauty routines and expectations in their own lives! I also don’t blame or shame anyone who makes choices that don’t reflect my own on the other end of the spectrum — like cosmetic surgery or other painful and time/money-consuming procedures. It really is an important question that every woman must consider, and must consider in advance of increasing pressures (with age and beauty “innovations” becoming more accessible) in order to be prepared with her own solid stance on how to avoid physically photoshopping herself out of reality. Nat, thank you so much for your support and the sincerity in your question. There are lots of ways to ask that same question that sound like an attack or a reprimand (no matter who you’re asking), but yours had no hint of that. Thank you! I’m going to pose this same question to our Facebook fans if you’d like to continue this discussion at facebook.com/TakeBackBeauty.

  22. TeakLipstickFiend
    TeakLipstickFiend08-04-2012

    A shame you only have white women in the post-its.

    • Karin
      Karin08-14-2012

      Agreed about the white women post its!! That was a surprise. Especially after reading about all that whitewashing…
      On a slightly related note, is it wrong of me to think, yes, they’re making Black women lighter and Latina women more skinny, but I’m really more irritated that there are pretty much no Asian women anywhere ever? I feel like Asians are either really modest and smart or “filthy sluts” and that’s the only time we ever get any attention. WHERE ARE THE REAL ASIAN AMERICAN WOMEN, I ASK YOU?! Sorry, it’s a touchy subject -_-;;

  23. Yair Haim
    Yair Haim02-25-2013

    I think photoshop is a great tool but shouldn’t be abuse to make people look perfect! Nobody’s perfect and thats what I love about real photography.

  24. Rivka
    Rivka02-26-2013

    This is music to my ears!

  25. julia
    julia12-06-2013

    this is messed up, for example, when someone is taking a actual natural photo and post it somewhere on social media, they have to say, no edit! there should be no edit! and the fact that these natural photos are so rare you have to say that they’re natural, is really quite sad.

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