Editing (a.k.a. image retouching). It’s something that’s become so normalised in mainstream media and, more recently in the blogging world. Admittedly, it’s one of the best ways to take your Insta snaps from basic to bangin’ when used in moderation, but with editing apps making ‘perfection’ so accessible, it’s easy to go overboard without thinking twice about the impact. And sure, I get that everyone wants to look their best in photos, but I also believe that people in the public sphere should be very self-aware when it comes to portraying a certain image. With that in mind, here are 9 reasons why over-editing your photos as a blogger, influencer or celebrity is MASSIVELY irresponsible.
1) 1) It upholds an unrealistic standard of beauty.
Let’s face it: women’s beauty standards are already so unrealistic it’s laughable. We’re expected to be tall but not too tall- or else it’s ‘intimidating’. We need to be slim, but not too slim, because then we look anorexic and like, that’s not cute… obviously. Then we have to have a tiny waist, but that’s the only thing on our bodies that’s allowed to be tiny. Silly, right? But when we edit our snaps to conform to the beauty status quo, what we’re essentially doing is confirming that we’re willing to adhere to those standards. And that’s a problem. Because when you hold yourself to unattainable standards, you’re basically setting yourself up to feel like a constant failure… which really sucks.
1) 2) It’s not art. It’s a freak show.
I remember once watching a YouTuber try and justify excessively editing her photos because ‘it’s art’. Um, no. No. Nope. There’s definitely some artistry in photography and the process of editing, but this isn’t supposed to be ‘an artist’s impression of [insert influencer here]’. This is you. Posting snaps on your Instagram and presenting them to the world in a way that suggests that they are very much real. And that ain’t cool. Because when you’ve edited your photos to the point where I start wondering whether it’s an actual photo or a Gil Elvgren painting? That’s when you’ve gone waaaaaaay too far.
1) 3) It messes with your head.
Okay, so I’d glanced at the below ‘before’ picture, and initially it looked absolutely fine. I mean, sure, my skin’s pretty ‘textured’ and I have dark circles under my eyes (I haven’t been drinking or sleeping enough lately), but I was actually thinking I looked pretty darn cute. The more I looked at the edited version though, the more I started to feel like my waist wasn’t small enough, my skin wasn’t smooth enough and actually… didn’t my boobs look kind of… flat? Crazy, right? I’m a UK size 10, and my boobs aren’t huge, but they’re definitely there. The scary part is though, if this is is the kind of impact over-editing had on my self-esteem after retouching my photos for just one post, imagine how I’d feel about myself if I started doing this all the time!?
Left: A realistic image of what skin looks like when it’s in need of some TLC | Right: How to catch up on a week of sleep and drink 30 litres of water… in less than 20 minutes.
Mustard snakeskin blouse: H&M, similar at Pretty Little Thing
1) 4) It messes with our heads.Yes, us. Your fans. Your followers. The ones who are liking all your snaps. We’re all just here like, damn- how come her skin’s so perfect? How’s her waist so snatched? Why don’t I look like that? And sure, you’re not the only one doing it, but that makes us feel even worse. Because how can it be that everyone online is so perfect when… we’re just… not? I’ll give you a clue: It’s ’cause *whispers* it’s all a lie.
Left: The reality of body diversity- not everyone is super curvy | Right: Sorry, Shakira- hips do lie.
1) 5) It doesn’t teach you to love yourself.
Everyone has their insecurities, and that’s totally okay. But to me, it really speaks volumes when people edit every single photo within an inch of its life. When I see your poreless skin, it tells me that you hate your real skin. When I see your fake bubble butt, it tells me that you’re an ashamed member of the #SmallBootyGang… which I’m proudly repping, btw. But at the end of the day, when all the smoothing tools and Insta filters come off, all you’re left with is you. It’s so incredibly important that you learn to love that girl, because she’s actually the only thing that’s real.
Left: That smile when you’re a proud member of the #SmallBootyGang | Right: ‘Cause my (fake) body’s too bootylicious for you, babe…
1) 6) It creates a false image of perfection… which, let’s face it- doesn’t exist.
Despite what social media’s been telling you, perfection is false. There’s no such thing as the perfect face, body, relationship or anything else. Trying to be (or look like) the perfect girl/woman isn’t any more achievable than trying to become a real-life unicorn (though that would be cool). So rather than editing yourself into a mythical creature, you really owe it to yourself and your audience, to focus on being the best possible version of you.
1) 7) You’re not ‘woke’ if you’re sleepin’ on showing the world the real you.
I’ve come across quite a few influencers who edit their pics to oblivion… but somehow start acting like they’re woke because they tell everyone they do. Erm… nope. Here’s the thing: when you post a picture on the gram, most people just look at the picture. They start comparing themselves to that ‘ideal’ version of you, because they haven’t read the small print in that ‘relatable’ caption where you admitted you snatched your waist a little. They haven’t watched your ‘how I edit my photos’ video on YouTube. They’ve just seen that snap you shared where you look all pretty and perfect, and they think ‘wow- she’s stunning.’ Which you are. But I mean the real you, not that weird barbie doll-type version that you’ve just created. So stop it, please.
1) 8) It doesn’t celebrate the beauty of diversity
Picture this: Holly edits out her cute freckles. Anna edits out her gorgeous slanted eyes. Lola slims down her adorable button nose. And before you know it, what do you have? A production line of clone-like, Kim Kardashian lookalikes- with almost no way of telling them apart. Which, when you think about it is actually kinda… well, creepy.
Left: Oh, Hai, Ms SWT | Right: Wave ‘hello’ to the new Kim K.
9) You’re lying to yourself… not to mention everyone else.
As someone who’s suffered with acne, I get wanting to make your skin look perfect, or even just normal. I know that there’s a real vulnerability in presenting yourself to the world raw; unedited; with your imperfections stripped bare for everyone to see. But we’ve all gotten ourselves into this weird cycle where we’re constantly lying to ourselves and each-other, pretending that we’re that 0% of the population who were blessed with poreless skin, a snatched waist, boulders for boobs and a booty that could have its own gravitational pull. And girl, isn’t it exhausting? Maybe it’s time we stop and just be honest with each-other.
If it makes it easier, I’ll start:
Hello, world. I’m Miss SWT. The woman who has pores. The one who has stretch marks, smile lines, wrinkly fingers and small booty. But you know what? IDGAF… and neither should you. Because there’s something so perfectly imperfect about that.
Disclaimer: The ‘before’ photos have been edited (colour, clarity and all that good stuff). I’m not against editing as I think when done right, it can really make your photos ‘pop’. I am, however against editing that makes you look like you’ve either had surgery or just morphed into a different person (so basically not anything like your real self).
If any of you guys are interested in seeing the totally unretouched versions, DM me on Instagram and I’ll be happy to share them!