Ladies and gentlemen,
So no matter what you celebrate, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, the solstice, New Year's Eve, National Flashlight Day (that's a real holiday, I had to look it up), this is a "celebrating" time of year. And do you know what celebrating means? It means you're gonna be posting on Instagram in your cute little holiday sweaters and wearing red lipstick. It's Holiday-stagram time (it's not a thing, but I'm making it a thing).
And when you post these photos, I have one question for you: do you edit your photos? And no, I don't mean throw an Instagram filter on there, adjust the brightness and call it a day. I mean the real editing. Booty-touch-ups, acne erasing photos; the edits that make your legs longer and your face thinner. I'm talking getting rid of that weird bump in your sweater that makes it look like you have a third boob, but your friend didn't point it out to you at the time, so now you have to work some magic to de-third-boob yourself. Those kinds of edits. There are truly two and only two answers to this question: Yes or No. And I'm going to explain why both those are okay answers.
Disclaimer: I have fallen on both sides of the yes/no line. There have been days I'm appalled that people use editing apps and days I thank the good Lord he blessed us with app developers so someone could make FaceTune. So I hold no judgement in whatever you choose to do. Also, for the remainder of this post I'm going to talk mainly about women because if you couldn't tell, I am a woman and I only have experience with women things. I understand that body image issues are not limited to women, but I am limited to a woman's experience and I don't want to make assumptions. Okay, here we go.
Answer #1: Yes. This is the answer a lot of you may have, even if you don't admit to it. And in order to make you feel comfortable, I'm going to be honest. I edit some of my photos. Why? Because I look like I dropped out of the Biggest Loser a week too early, and there are days when that makes me really sad. And yes I GET IT. I could just go put in work at the gym and look better but here is the cold hard truth, I DON'T WANT TO. I have tried all the sports, all the workout classes, I have gone through phases where I am in good shape and I never get to that point that people keep telling me about. The "Oh! But if you go enough you're actually going to like it" place. That place doesn't exist for me and I would 2,000% rather go write music to de-stress than lift a bunch of heavy stuff in a sweaty gym.
Plus, I get a bunch of my photos from photographers and I don't know what they do to the photos before I get them. For all I know they could fine tune every hair in my eye brows. So yes, some of my photos are edited, And they're not always bathing suit photos or summer photos, sometimes I see a photo, mid-winter and I can't stand my legs. And I know that nobody will comment "you're legs look like two under cooked sausages", but I feel like people will think it, so I open up an app and make myself feel better for 20 seconds.
Is that wrong? In some ways yes and in some ways no. It perpetuates the stereotype that all women need to look one way and that can be really dangerous but at the same time if the world is hard and I make it easier for just a second, is that a bad thing? I don't know.
No: This is the easier stance to take publicly. The feminist, "we are all beautiful" stance that we want to take all the time, even when the going gets tough. And I take this stance a lot too, there are photos of me at my cottage in a bathing suit and I see them and I'm like a) I look super hot and b) this is me and I don't really care if you care, I'm stoked about me. AND THAT'S FUCKING AWESOME. I should feel great about me. I am a damn treat.
But don't get self-righteous about saying "no", because if you shame the women who do feel the need to edit their photos, then how does that make you any better than the societal pressure that puts her in that place? Let her do her. And I think that there are times that editing photos is okay. Story time:
This summer my sister and I went for a walk and I took some cute photos. Now the way she was standing in one photo made her dress pull in a certain way and it looked like...how do I say this tactfully?...It looked like she had a dick. So she chose to edit out the dick-looking-spot because it made her feel uncomfortable. (Yes, I had to get her permission to tell this story.)
Now, do I think this is a bad thing? NO. She saw something that was a little uncomfortable and didn't actually represent the reality of the situation. She chose to just go, "hmmmmmm....no I don't want to look like I'm hiding a Pringles can between my legs" and that is a-okay.
Maybe you feel really confident and my love, I am so proud of you, but not everybody else is. And in order to reach Lizzo-levels of confident some of us need to tell white lies to ourselves and that's okay every once in a while.
And yes, you can come after me and explain that this is part of a bigger systemic issue and that we're teaching young girls unrealistic beauty standards and I get that. I grew up in this world, I know how hard it can be. But we're not going to fix it overnight. It's going to be a long haul we are fighting an uphill battle. So for this Holiday Season I ask for one gift from the Yes-people and one gift from the No-people:
Yes-people: I get that it can be tempting to edit photos. I've caved before. But you look HOT. Do you know why? Because you're being confident about your authentic self when you post unedited pics and that's HOT. I have faith in you. You should have faith in you too. And I'm not saying don't edit any pictures ever. Cold turkey is difficult and change is a slow process. Just stop editing one or two? See how it feels and dip your toes in the water.
No-people: Do not take a big fat dump on my yes-people. They are trying their best and shaming them or belittling them for editing photos doesn't get us anywhere. Them editing photos comes from a long history of cultural pressure to appear a certain way. You can feel more than welcome to let them know that they look beautiful in real life, everyday. But please, help them take the steps they need to feel beautiful rather than ridiculing them for not feeling beautiful.
And how about this. From here on out I will stop editing photos. No matter how tempting it is to edit a belly or a thigh, I will scrap edits that perpetuate this toxic culture of "less-than" among women. Frankly, I'm a little terrified to do this because it feels so exposing, but asking for your honesty without contributing my own feels really hypocritical. It might not do anything because this is a bigger issue we're talking about but it's got to start somewhere. Y'all are damn treats and I hope you enjoy eating all the damn treats this holiday season because you know I will.
From me, with love, to you,
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