I’m all about using the latest tools to improve a photo. For my own photos, I love putting a filter on and using special effects like blurring. However, it’s key to remember that the purpose of photo editing is to improve the photo, not destroy the things you’re proud of about yourself.
On a recent peruse of the internet for a new desktop photo editing tool, I tried out a few options. Since I am not a professional photographer nor do I know anything about editing tools, I had no idea of the scope of what features they have. In one tool, I was so surprised to see a particular option that was available to alter a photo.
You read that right. A weight loss tool. At first, my thoughts were, “No way. This can’t be real, right?”
I didn’t think this tool could actually make you look like you lost weight in a photo. That would need to be magic, right? Before coming across this tool, I also didn’t think I would ever use a tool like this.
I have always had great self-esteem. But this tool made me realize some of my insecurities since having children. It made me remember what my body was before growing and birthing babies.
I uploaded a photo of myself I was editing for a business page and moved the slider on the tool to the right 50%. My face and body instantly became skinnier by 50%.
I saw my plump cheeks and squishy midriff turn back to the slim figure I used to know before kids.
I have to admit it was tempting to keep those changes.
In real life, I work so hard to maintain breastfeeding while working out, and I still struggle with shaping my body the way I want it to look.
With this tool, it was finally so easy to change my appearance. With the click of the mouse, I was my perfect weight again.
In that moment, I felt I was more beautiful being falsely skinny than I am in real life with my real body.
Right then, my husband came in the room. I explained the tool to him and exclaimed, “Look how skinny I am with it!”
“So… you’re photoshopping yourself?! Why?”
My husband’s adoration for me is what made me realize the absurdity of altering my weight in a photo.
I was surprised by his look of complete confusion. I thought he would think it was cool like I momentarily did. Instead, he seemed almost sad. His reaction snapped me back to reality.
I quickly replied, “Well, I look skinnier… but that is not the real me. I guess I shouldn’t use it…. Yeah. I definitely shouldn’t use it.”
“You’re already beautiful.”
My husband’s adoration for me is what made me realize the absurdity of altering my weight in a photo, but I wish it had ultimately come from my own view of myself. My own view of my beautiful body.
I’m not sure why I fell so easily for a magic weight loss tool to bring me back to before I had kids. I wouldn’t change this body. I wouldn’t change this life.
This body of mine played sports, swam in oceans, created music, grew babies, birthed babies, and fed babies. This body of mine has explored, tested limits, and literally climbed mountains. This body of mine is beautiful with all of its scars, imperfections, and squishiness.
This body of mine is uniquely and beautifully mine. This body of mine tells my story.
It’s silly to me now that for a few minutes, a Photoshop tool almost destroyed my beliefs about myself.
Although it would be great to have my body instantly look like my ideal appearance, I now know that every stage of my life is my “ideal appearance.” Right now, that appearance is different than it was two years ago. I have been nourishing my children with this body, and that looks different. Not worse, just different.
The truth is that “skinny” is not a normal thing to aspire to. Healthy, yes. It’s good to eat right and work out. Healthy bodies look different for everyone and doesn’t necessarily mean “skinny.” “Skinny” people have their stories just as you have yours.
The truth is that every body is beautiful for the truly unique story they have. Scars, wrinkles, and squishiness should all be celebrated for all that was accomplished to get them. As Brandi Carlile sings in “The Story”:
All of these lines across my face
Tell you the story of who I am
So many stories of where I’ve been
And how I got to where I am
It saddens me that no photo is safe. There is always the option to alter it, to make people something they’re not. I hear in the news of celebrities stating their images were altered without their approval, and it is good they are voicing their disdain with that practice. I almost willingly altered my own photo, so I now understand how easy it is to be okay with it. It takes courage to present yourself exactly how you are.
I was surprised by his look of complete confusion. I thought he would think it was cool like I momentarily did. Instead, he seemed almost sad.
My dream is that there is no standard of beauty — that beauty is evaluated differently for each person, since we all have different things about us that make us all beautiful.
Those marks on your body are beautiful. They show the map of your life. Where you’ve been and where you are now. They are a part of you and a part of your story. They are something to be proud of.
If you find yourself faced with hiding behind a false notion of who you are or proudly showcasing the real you, choose the real you. The real you is far more interesting and beautiful than what software and filters can create.