Dear Sparkly Friends,
I was browsing Instagram looking at accounts I have a complex range of feelings about, and it led to a long Facebook post better suited for a blog, so here we go. Most of you social media savvy folks know it doesn’t take a graphic designer to transform a mediocre photo into something at least presentable for LinkedIn these days. In fact, you can easily lose fifty pounds, get cosmetic surgery, lighten your skin, and apply makeup all while taking your morning shit.
Are you confused? Well, I am confused about why we need this to exist, so here is a reminder of the bonkers (and bigoted) crap you can do to your body on apps to completely diminish your self worth and that of your audience. If you have a following, (or care about people,) please don’t consistently alter your image for the purpose of making others believe it is your identity. For that reason, I will not be telling you where to download these or in acute detail, how they were edited.
I can understand once or twice for a joke, or to see what you might look like with a different facial feature to some extent. (i.e. not in a racist context) I can also think it could be fascinating if it is someone’s whole schtick—like a social commentary or digital art installation. Where I think it crosses the line, is when someone hates so much of their appearance that how they look in real life is nearly unrecognizable from their IG feed. In my opinion, they’re not doing it for themselves anymore; it comes from a darker place.
While the person on the left might have been me ten pounds or more ago, it’s a lie today, and that certainly isn’t the colour of my skin. I have fine lines and scars I’ve earned with age. Oh, and if you’ve noticed, that’s not my face shape. Nor my eyes. Nor the nose that was even surgically created for me. Even my rhinoplasty-nose is imperfect. (Sorry for the grainy image; it was the most recent straight-on body image, and I wanted it to be as accurate as possible to my current weight.)
I’m someone who has gotten and supports plastic surgery. I repeat, I have limits. There’s an invisible line in the sand that I have a hard time discerning. For me, it has a lot to do with someone’s views about their identity, if it becomes an addiction, and if there’s an overall artistic vision or not. I think artistic body modifications can be beautiful. I love seeing people transforming their literal selves into works of art. Then there’s another type of person who has ideas about beauty which are small-minded, exclusive, and I guess that’s where stick meets sand.
Informally, I’ve done this type of post a couple times in the past, but I like refreshing everyone’s memory that probably half of the medium to large accounts you follow drastically alter the bodies in their images, be it themselves or models in ads. Technology gets better, and it’s harder to point out. There are less warped walls and and trees unwittingly exposing impossible waistlines. Personally, I’ll take honesty and vulnerability with a side of cellulite, rolls, wrinkles, and imperfections instead of the greasy alternative--living a lie.
If you want to look good on camera, learn your angles, use good lighting, fix small elements in post like bothersome shadows, colour balance, et cetera… Blur blemishes or scars if those are major breaking points for you. I’d argue they are the least permanent parts of our very limited existences anyway. No amount of editing, however, will make you love yourself, and that’s a journey for which I have zero maps. Ours are likely different paths, but I encourage you take the arduous, fucked up road trip. Ultimately, you’ll never regret making the effort to find the beauty in your body. It’s okay to hate it sometimes. We don’t have to vomit positivity every minute, but find a balance so every second of the day you don’t want to rip off the meat suit you can’t zip out of...
...until we can all upload our consciousnesses into synthetic bodies, then forget everything I said, and screw this organic life.
Love, Light, and Existentialism,
Sorel Estrada Volpe