erindubitably: (on the line)
[personal profile] erindubitably
So, I don't even really know where to begin with this post. I'll admit it was spurred by a recent email conversation where I was asked to pass on copies of pictures I had taken so that someone could give them to a graphics-savvy friend in order to retouch them to their satisfaction. My first reaction was to be upset, as I thought it was rude not to ask the original photographer to do the edits. The more I thought about it, though, the more it started to crystallize a viewpoint in my head that meant I *wouldn't* be able to do certain types of edits, even if asked.

Now, I am perfectly capable of smoothing out unwanted bulges or slimming down various bits and parts of bodies - I spend enough time in Photoshop to have learned how to do this passably well, and indeed enjoy playing around with minor edits like skin blemishes, wayward hairs, etc. But while I view those as minor things, stuff that could have been fixed perhaps by an application of hairspray or coverup, I don't like the idea of having to change people's proportions or adjust their breasts in order for them to feel a picture of themselves is 'attractive' or 'hot'. There are plenty of blogs that talk about bad or unfortunate photoshopping of models and actresses, all in the name of beauty. Reading them for about five minutes is enough to make you want to swear off the media entirely, especially if you have a young woman/daughter/niece/neighbor you want to grow up to have a healthy body image one day. How can we be so incredibly critical over things we have no control over? How can we beat ourselves up over these things and ignore all the loveliness?

And the thing is, I totally buy into it! I am just as obsessed with my body and how it looks to other people as anyone else is - possibly more so than a lot of people. My ideas about what is attractive have evolved over the years, but there is still an ideal that I strive towards without even realizing it. I flagellate myself over gaining weight and constantly bemoan features I think are 'unattractive'. I complain about my ugly knees, for crying out loud! And all the while I hate it - I hate thinking of myself as less than ideal for who I should be right now and I hate not feeling comfortable in my body. And this may sound contentious and rude, but I hate it when friends say "but you're so skinny!" as if that fixes anything. Everybody has insecurities, no matter how skinny or toned or big-breasted or gorgeous they are [in whatever subjective way you want to judge that, I guess].

So what do we do to fix it? I have no idea. There are a few things I am trying to do, both for myself and for others. Personally, I am trying to redefine how I see myself and how I judge my body. I'm trying not to hate my belly or my knees; instead I'm trying to think of goals to help my live healthily and happily and work towards those instead. If that means I never have a six-pack or perfect legs or a nose that fits the standard, so be it. And I'm probably going to struggle for a really long time to actually believe those words, but I have to try.

I also want to try and remember to tell my friends how beautiful they are (guys too, but especially the girls) in all their incarnations. I want them to look in the mirror, or look at pictures of themselves and see all the things I love them for.



Crooked mouth, imperfect eyes, blemished, pockmarked skin, dented chin.
Smiles, laughs, kisses, debates, cries, nuzzles kitties, cheers.


Flabby stomach, dimpled thighs, wonky knees, stubble and spots everywhere.
Rides horses, plays tag with kids, swing dances, swims, climbs mountains, hugs.

Date: 2010-06-21 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] heyokish.livejournal.com
fantastic post, and pictures. Thank you for this.

I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with my own body--that's a whole other issue--but I never retouch photographs, or me or anyone else. My pictures are only as true as they are. That moment, that light, that expression. That glass of wine, that putting up with my clambering on chairs and removing cats from backdrops. It's just a record of how my camera and I saw that person at that moment. If you want fiction, paint.

One person who sat for me--a woman of a certain age--was at first slightly distraught by the photographs. Side light from a north window reveals rather than smooths. Her life was written on her face. And man, what a glorious, gorgeous life and face that is. But she had been sent photographs of an old friend of hers the same day, a contemporary. How glamorous she looked, I was told. But then, a day or two and a few emails later, she had changed her mind. Her friend was soft lit, soft focused, an inch deep in makeup and photoshop. Hers were *her* and not a construct or confection of memory and wishful thinking. Just her, as a friend had seen her one summer afternoon. She has a print of one of them, and tells me it reminds her that people see her as beautiful.

Oof. long. Um. What was I saying? Oh yes. You are beautiful. Even if you only believe it in odd-numbered minutes.

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November 2010

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