1. Your skin doesn’t have pores.
Or wrinkles. Or redness. Or acne. You get where I’m going with this. When you look at any Hollywood celebrity in a photo shoot, the first thing that stands out is glowing, bright skin. This skin is abnormally flawless, with no lines or real humanistic qualities to it. And for ladies with a darker skin tone? It’s pretty common for magazines to brighten and actually change the appearance of your natural skin color to a lighter hue. Whatever the case, you can rest assured that the skin you’re looking at in ads, commercials, and photo shoots has been blurred, brightened, and changed.
Why shouldn’t you believe this? Because perfect skin a lie that advertisers are trying to enforce on you. Not only that, beauty companies know these ads make you feel self-conscious and they counteract that with sneaky schemes to get you to buy the latest creams, washes, and treatments. Real skin tells a story. It’s not perfect, and it has scars, lines, and marks. It’s absolutely beautiful, so please don’t believe the myth that your skin has to look like porcelain or bronze to be attractive. You’re not made out of plastic, and that’s okay.
2. It doesn’t matter what size you are, you’re still not small enough.
This is a myth perpetuated by every advertisement you see. Celebrities and models alike, some of whom are notably tiny, have been altered to appear smaller than they already are. This unnecessary form of photoshop sometimes involves removing limbs completely to make a model look thin.
Why shouldn’t you believe this? Because this rampant desire to encourage every woman to be model thin is dangerous. Don’t believe me? Have you ever heard of thinspo? Thinspo stands for thinspiration and it’s common for girls struggling with eating disorders to use photoshopped pictures as inspiration to keep starving themselves, obsessively exercising, or binging and purging. The thing is, almost all of these pictures have been altered. These girls are striving to be like images that are not real or even based on reality. This lie is so outrageous that many celebrities have spoken out against it (think Kate Winslet, for example, who called out GQ in 2003 – and the use of photoshop has only increased since then).
3. Everyone needs (and can achieve) a thigh gap.
Believe it or not, most of the “thigh gaps” you see on models have either been enhanced or created by painting away the flesh on the model’s thighs. Did I mention these women already look great? Yet for some reason this generation has become fond of the thigh gap, so every clothing company you love and admire is using this technique to make their models look more appealing to you. If you look closely enough, you can often see the thigh gap enhancement has been overdone, and the model’s crotch has… er, vanished completely. Not to get awkward or anything, but I’m trying to be real with you. These women, for whatever reason, are having their already thin/fit/perfectly normal/other positive adjective bodies warped into something that is unnecessarily different.
Why shouldn’t you believe this? Well, first of all, not everyone can even achieve a thigh gap. For those who can, it might take some extreme effort. Of course, there are women who naturally have the coveted thigh gap; so, I’m not saying this physical attribute is a rarity. I’m just saying not everyone can get it, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean you can’t lose weight or get fit and toned. It just means your thighs might touch anyway. This myth is also commonly associated with thinspo and has become extremely dangerous. The thigh gap is usually the result of wide set hips, and even then, it isn’t the norm. The problem isn’t thigh gaps, it’s that girls believe they need them to be beautiful – and sorry to photoshop, but that’s a lie.
4. Your boobs are never the right size.
Well, let’s get awkward and talk about breasts. Photoshop likes to take two paths. The first is to increase the size of a model’s breasts in pictures to appeal to men. This usually looks ridiculously unnatural on the model, considering her frame. The other method is decreasing the breasts because any extra fat is just terrible, and that is usually aimed at women. Either way, someone ends up feeling bad for either having too much or not having enough. There is no middle ground in photoshop land when it comes to a woman’s chest.
Why shouldn’t you believe this? Because, really ladies? I feel like I have to draw from my own experience as someone who is all hips and… ah, not as much on top. And boy, was that awkward to share, but for your sake I’m sharing it. Do you know that even plus size advertising has photoshop, and this is one of the biggest problems I spotted there? I can look at one outfit and feel normal and look at another and think “Well… I am not only abnormal for being fat, I’m abnormal for being fat and small chested!” Boobs are normal. It doesn’t matter what size they are, and photoshop has some nerve for telling you different.
5. Your stomach isn’t ________ enough.
What does this mean? Well, some models have had their tummies photoshopped completely flat. Some have had their stomachs “enhanced” with a six pack. Some have had their hip bones sharpened and defined by a brush. Rolls, lines, and natural stretch marks are air brushed away. This is in every picture you see where the model is showing their stomach. That seems like an enormous exaggeration, and I know some of you are thinking “well, I have a naturally flat/toned/defined stomach.” Well, I believe you… but photoshop doesn’t NOT target you because you already look awesome, my friend. It’s a nasty little booger who wants to make EVERYONE feel bad.
Why shouldn’t you believe this? Well, because we’re human. Some of us have recently lost or gained weight. Some of us have had kids, surgeries, or accidents that resulted in a few victory scars. Some of us actually bend over and sit down (AKA, the natural lines or rolls from bending over or sitting down). All of us have a story, and sometimes that story results in a tummy with some character. Also, have you ever seen badly photoshopped pictures, because somehow they always end up losing the belly button? I mean, really photoshop. Belly buttons are hilarious and you erase them altogether.
6. You don’t want to see real women.
Yep. Photoshop both assumes and expects you to believe that seeing real women is visually unappealing. Before you come after me, I’m not saying the women are not real – they are. The alterations, blurring, painting, and removing of natural aspects of the human body? Not real. Completely artificial in every single way. Is this obvious to some of us? Yes.
But don’t ignore the fact that other women don’t realize how photoshopped everything is. Teen girls everywhere pin these thinspo pictures to their Pinterest boards, look at them, and compare their bodies to that. This problem is so overwhelmingly apart of our culture that websites have warnings for you when you type “thinspo” into their search engines. Here’s Pinterest’s warning: “Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.”
I wrote this article for you, because you’re more than good enough.
You just don’t realize it because photoshop has tried to convince you otherwise.
So, this is my challenge to ALL the women out there – erase your thinspo AND fitspo boards on Pinterest. Quit looking at pictures of other women, and appreciate the body you have. If you want to become healthier, do it on your own terms. Don’t compare yourself to anyone, except the person you were yesterday.
And continue being awesome.