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 12:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
We don't talk about this enough.

When I was off work some months back I had a fun time watching repeats of How To Look Good Naked. A fantastic show. It always makes me feel better about how I look - I just find Gok's advice so right on.
Also the show has a segment for Miss Teen Naked Beauty. The girl who won was fab, a real go-getter. Her mission (based on feedback from teenagers who watch the show) became getting body image on the curriculum, so that people would feel open talking about it.

As it happens, I have learned to love my body - though I could write you a loooooong list of all the things I don't like. Mostly I'd like to loose weight, and that seems pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.

I tell myself everyday to be greatful for the body and curves I do have, in full awareness that it's all downhill from here... Can you tell I'm gonna be thirty in a few weeks?!

Date: 2010-06-21 12:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are perfect.

Date: 2010-06-21 02:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love that you wrote this.

I think I am kind of in the same spot as you, concerned about how other people perceive my body but trying to redefine my goals for it in terms of what I have done and experienced and can do, rather than how I look passively through the lens of some very skewed beauty ideal. I find that the more happy things I do with my body, the less I care what other people think it looks like (although I always care more than I'd like to).

Hey, have you ever read The Beauty Myth?

Date: 2010-06-21 03:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, we don't talk about it enough. And while I don't want to make it into a big Issue, I think being open and honest about it could be a potentially good step. It certainly is for me.

The Miss Teen Naked Beauty girl sounds awesome. I'd really like to see that.

I don't think there's a problem with wanting to lose weight, if it's done in a healthy way and within reason. I just want to get it into my head that losing weight isn't a surefire way to happiness and that other changes I can make - being more active, eating healthy - are going to be a lot more lasting and positive.

Date: 2010-06-21 03:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
So are you. <3

Date: 2010-06-21 03:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hey, have you ever read The Beauty Myth?

No, I have not, but I'm going to be ordering it very shortly! I can't wait to read it.

Date: 2010-06-21 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
> you have a young woman/daughter/niece/neighbor you want to grow up to have a healthy body image one day

Yes I do! Plz fix this and ressurect feminism in time for when Caractacus is older kthxbye.

Seriously, though, very good post. I really like the captions. Have you considered there's maybe a bigger photography project there?

Date: 2010-06-21 03:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I posted some quotes from it when I was reading it that you can enjoy while being unable to wait!

Date: 2010-06-21 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was beautiful to read and view - and I really empathise with you on a lot of things. Makes me glad I'm still reading LJ/sad that it seems to be in a bit of a decline, there is some good stuff happening here!

Date: 2010-06-21 05:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
and I love the pair of you! And you're even more beautiful together.

Date: 2010-06-21 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Your post is well timed; I'm starting a class on digital photography and Photoshop today. It's aimed more at color correction, etc. of reference photos to be used in our preferred medium, but it's an important reminder the shiny blue box can be used for evil as well as good. Keep fighting the good fight, and as [ profile] momentsmusicaux said, I think you might have a project here. :D
Edited Date: 2010-06-21 06:56 pm (UTC)

Date: 2010-06-21 08:55 pm (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
Good post.

Body issues really, really bother me. It makes me deeply unhappy that so many people feel that their bodies are imperfect things that they have to fix.

Date: 2010-06-21 08:59 pm (UTC)
ext_3673: Manny, from black books (Default)
From: [identity profile]
(Apologies in advance because it's 6am)

This is a good post. I think we forget, too often, that we don't see real people in photos but get people who've been so airbrushed and fixed that they're gorgeous works of art but not people anymore. I appreciate you posting it.

Date: 2010-06-21 10:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
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.

Date: 2010-06-22 09:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for this--wonderful and timely for me too.

I used to be blessed with a healthy sense of confidence regarding my looks and my body till I met F, even though I was far from societal ideals and norms for what was beautiful. Sadly factors in that relationship led me to believe I was less than I was, and it's only now that I'm regaining a realistic perspective on my looks. I know, regarding myself, that I will never be thin, but that's not what I've ever aspired to--I have a weight at which I feel comfortable in my skin and as soon as I approach that I'm happy. Having said all this, though, I am dangerously imaginative when it comes to finding flaws and yes, remembering those flaws are not the end of the world, and that I am so much more than the sum of my sometimes less-than-ideal parts always, always helps.

I too, strongly endorse a project.

Date: 2010-06-22 09:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
And can I just say, btw, (without sounding too pervy, I hope) that I have always loved your mouth. It is strong and expressive, and somehow has a personality of its own.

Date: 2010-06-22 10:50 am (UTC)
andrewducker: (Default)
From: [personal profile] andrewducker
By coincidence I bumped into this today:
which sums things up wonderfully.

Date: 2011-08-04 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is awesome. :-)
Page generated Oct. 17th, 2017 12:21 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios