I was on a shoot yesterday with the Raleigh Photographer Workshops group at Anderson Point Park- more on that experience in the next post. Right now I want to talk about "facial correction". As we were walking the photographers were chatting about various programs and someone mentioned some facial correction software which adjusts a person's face to make them "just a little prettier". Walking beside them I politely said, "That sounds interesting, but please don't change my face".
He said, "No, but that's the cool thing! It still looks like you, it just adjusts little things to make you prettier!".
Wow. Can we think about how much of an insult that is for a moment? "I know you took the time out of your day to drive 45 minutes to model for this shoot, but I think I need to use software to make you prettier". Now, I'm not going to mention the photographer's name because I think he's a good guy. He was really fun to work with and, other than that weird insult, didn't have a single negative thing to say. All of the photographers were great to work with actually (The ones who stayed.. more on that in the next post)! But it's incredibly common, especially in commercial photography, to alter a model's appearance including her face. This well known video by Dove demonstrates that. The Dove video uses photoshop to adjust the model's neck length, eye size, to thin her shoulders, to plump her lips, to raise her eye brows.. The software that the photographer uses does that as well, just automatically instead of manually.
He emailed me the first photo to see what I thought. My first thought was "it doesn't look anything like me!". Yes, it was a prettier version of myself but I'm fine with my face, thank you very much. It took me a while to come to terms with my eyes, my nose, my brows and, obviously, the roundness of my face- I'm not letting some program take that away from me. Because yes, I spent all day yesterday feeling bad that I wasn't as pretty as some software made me. Thinking "wow, I really would look prettier if my eyes were just a little bigger". As if there's anything I could actually do about that!
So let's see the photos:
So what did the program do? It thinned my face, raised and plumped my lips, widened my eyes, and raised my eyebrows. Subtle, isn't it? my skin was also smoothed (both photographs) to make my pores smaller (you think you have giant pores? You don't- models' pores are just shrunk into non existence. Pore size, like everything else, varies from person to person)
Someone on a body acceptance forum asked "why are there never 'face acceptance' posts?" Well here it is. The standard ideal of beauty cannot even be achieved by the models themselves. Everyone knows that even the thinnest most "perfect" models still have their bodies altered and faces are no different. You're not competing in a beauty contest. You aren't obligated to wear makeup or have your eyebrows shaped, or even to pluck your chin hair- your only obligation is to you. And if you think being pretty will make you happy, it won't. Self esteem, confidence, and body acceptance (yes, that includes your face) is what will make you happy. You don't have to stand in front of a mirror and repeat "I am beautiful", you have to stand in front of a mirror and repeat "It doesn't matter what I look because I'm an awesome fucking person".
That picture above? The one on the right? It should not have the power to make me feel bad about myself. Is it prettier? Probably. But it's not me. I could have chosen to have him edit every single photo of me from that shoot in the same way. I didn't. I replied telling him that it wasn't me and I didn't want it used.
"Well, you can say that because you're already pretty"
Yeah- you have no idea how many times I think that about people that I think are pretty. I look at other plus size models and think "god, maybe I could make it in this industry if I just looked like that." I'm not saying that some people aren't prettier, I'm saying that it doesn't matter. Everyone, regardless of their appearance, body size, hairiness, or even personality, ends up dating and falling in love and all that other mushy romance stuff. People tell me that no one could possibly be attracted to me because of my size (and yes, I've been called ugly plenty of times too- I vividly remember an incident in middle school where the whole class began barking at me). My advice? When some asshole ignores you or insults you, don't get sad or internalize it- get pissed. They're the assholes. Try "ugh, I can't believe I thought that guy/girl was cute. No way I'd want to date a person with that kind of disgusting personality ".
A common thread used in fat acceptance is the idea that our self worth is not based on how many people want to fuck us. That isn't just for fat- that holds true for everyone and every attribute. Your worth is not based on appearance.
One more time: Your worth is not your appearance.
And if you're in that spot where you're single and you don't want to be? Sexually frustrated? Try masturbating. And absolutely never lower your standards even if it means waiting for a bit longer.