When I was a teenager, a new magazine was something to be devoured. First I smelled the pages. Read every article. Tore out the pages of the hair/skin/clothing I wanted some day. Hung them on the walls, so every day I could be reminded of my (unobtainable) goals.
I looked in the full-length mirror on my closet door and saw how thin my hair was. how oily my face was, how my stomach stuck out and I didn’t know how to stand gracefully or purse my lips winsomely. My reflection tried out different smiles. I put on makeup and took it off and put it back on again.
Fashion magazines filled me with envy. Annihilated my self-esteem. They cost as much as a paperback book and left me feeling worse about what I had, who I was.
I loved them.
My mother told me the models were all airbrushed. That they teens on my TV shows were really young adults way more poised and acne-free than normal 16-year-olds. They had hair extensions and spent hours in makeup. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t see the artifice—I could only see the result.
This is me.
I just finished exercising. My hair is a mess. I’m wearing no makeup. I didn’t smile or try to show my best angle. It is a photo I would normally delete because I look unattractive and old in it. I felt just fine about myself and how I looked before I took this photo. I felt so fine about myself that I was actually out in public when I took it—not hiding in my house. But once I saw the picture I cringed, and even now, I don’t like putting it on the internet for the world to see.
But this is for you. The person who scrolls on their phone and feels like shit about themselves. I want you to see what you are comparing yourself to.
My phone has something called Face App. It’s so easy even I—a Gen X-er—can use it. I had time to kill, so I wanted to see what it could do.
I added makeup. Just light makeup--not full glam makeup.
Fixed my hair (I even went back to my natural color!)
Oh, don’t forget the “young” filter! And another filter called “daisy.”
Let’s add a better background, and crop it because I look kind of wide.
It's ok to wear makeup, and love fashion. It's ok to spend hours painting your nails or doing your eyebrows. But when you scroll through all those beautiful pictures on the internet, don't compare yourelf to them.
Here's the thing. We can all enhance ourselves. But that only makes us feel worse about who we really are. To me, there's nothing I love more than being told "you're prettier in real life than on the internet." I don't ever want someone to say, "wow, I didn't even recognize you!"
Maybe someone will read this and think for a minute that it’s better to be real than perfect. That laughing with your best friend is the best way to get glowy skin. That quirky and unique is worth aspiring to. That smart and funny make you way more attractive than any filter.
I'm not anti-selfie. Selfies are fun and sometimes can make you appreciate your own beauty. Post pics. Post fun and arty pics you are proud of. Be goofy. Pose like a super model, if you want to. But don't let other people's pictures bring you down. You never know the story behind them.
Copyright © 2023 Lara Lillibridge
Public domain imagery courtesy of Snappygoat.com