I love it when things go viral these days and it doesn’t involve peeing in a cup or blood test. Thanks to the internet, the term “going viral” has a whole new connotation from when I was in my college (fine, stripping) years.
There’s that one chick who burned her hair off while performing a video tutorial about how to use a curling iron (that landed her on Ellen), Toddler, Jessica’s Daily Affirmation video (with over 19 millions hits), that’s still making waves on the World Wide Web (she’s a teenager now). And who can resist (my all time FAVE) The Evolution of Dance? Not the 232,412,839 (to date) people who’ve seen it!
Those are just three examples of the countless viral goodness we have available at our fingertips (and WiFi connectivity). And thanks to a friend recently, I’ve been exposed to another gem – a video – that’s been spreading faster than herpes, circa Studio 54.
It’s not really funny, tragic or gross (but if you’re into gross, I dare you to check out this Tosh.O Extraction video (WARNING – it’s seriously gross).
No, the video I just learned about is different. I’d call this type of video – EYE OPENING. Literally.
It’s about something we’ve all seen – whether on the magazine racks standing in line at the grocery store, driving past a billboard, or even surfing the net while those ridiculously annoying pop-up ads try to take over the screen. It’s all about, in a word: Photoshop. These days, you can’t swing a Vogue magazine without hitting someone bathed in this glorious computerized magic wand of unattainable perfection.
I have a love-hate relationship with Photoshop. Mostly because of my own skin issues (even after nine surgeries on my face, I still have over 80% of permanent scarring) but also, it just makes me look… well…better. The whites of my eyes are brighter, my neck is longer, and let me tell you – my skin? I’m a mannequin, baby! Just like I always wanted!
Of course, none of it’s real. I may be crazy, but I’m not delusional. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my journey to self-esteem and acceptance of my (many) flaws, it’s that we make the most of what we have – and what you can’t change, well that falls into the fuck it bin.
But if I have a promotional photo shoot for my website and the option of wiping away my tired, middle-aged eyes, smoothing out my skin, and thinning out my neck is there, you bet your ass I’m all in.
Sounds good, right? I mean, who wouldn’t wanna look their best in a photo? But here’s the thing about shit that’s awesome – there’s always a price to pay. And when it comes to Photoshop (and the entire media industry), the people who are paying dearly are our children – specifically young girls.
As a recovering anorexic, I remember the exact moment I overheard one of my school mates describe me as fat (I overheard this while sitting in the bathroom stall, without her knowledge).
I’ve always been a big girl and at that time, was a size 8. After hearing this I vowed to never eat again, because I wanted to look like the girls on the magazine covers. And they didn’t even HAVE Photoshop back then.
So I starved myself. I lied to everyone – friends, family – that “I just ate.” Even would go so far as to stage meals on a plate by crumbling bread, making my mom think I just ate a sandwich.
After my health began to deteriorate and my brain turned into mush, something inside me clicked (let’s call it hunger) and I slowly began to eat again. But it wasn’t much. Cocaine and Fresca with the occasional Snickers bar was all I needed.
Aside from the clear drug addition, there was a profound affect in my psyche that took place after thinking I was too fat. And Photoshop has the same capabilities of throwing young women over the edge when it comes to trying to live up to a certain type of standard.
Which brings us to this video.
It’s so important for young girls (all of us, really) to get that what they SEE isn’t what is REAL.
Take a look at what I’m talking about:
To be a good sport – I’m throwing in some photos of myself – pre and post Photoshop.
It’s not that I’m against photo altering. I just think it’s crucial to educate our daughters and ANYONE who compares themselves to what’s out there in the media today.
Yes, models are freaks of nature (beautiful freaks, but still… not typical). And YES, how cool it would be to look like them. But TRUST me – even MODELS get photoshopped.
Kate Moss (note to smokers – STOP now) Moss
So now is a good time to cut yourself some slack, stop comparing yourself to the magically altered unrealistic versions of those freaks of nature, and embrace all the glorious, fabulous and magnificently unique things that make you – YOU.