Reality Check: American Beauty

Each culture has its own ideals of female beauty, and American ideals seem to me to be among the least realistic (I focus on America because it’s the culture I’ve grown up in, though my studies in anthropology have definitely given me some insights on other cultures and the stunning range of ideals therein).

To make a long story short: I’m not pretty. Never have been, never will be unless I decide to pay for a multitude of cosmetic surgical procedures, which I don’t plan to do even if I could ever afford it. Like most American women I can sit in front of a mirror and pick apart every single inch of my face and body that does not meet the modern standards, standards that are shouted at us daily by cosmetic companies, the entertainment industry, and so on.

Being a rabid Facebooker AND a visual artist (though I use the term “artist” with a bit of humor) as well as a women who just doesn’t stand up when it comes to looks, I started taking self-portraits and Photoshopping them to oblivion, until my pictures looked as good as society seems to think I should look.

Here is one of the self-portraits I posted recently:


As expected, it got a good deal of admiration from my friends, and I agree: it’s a pretty awesome picture. But then I started thinking about it: Even though I and all of my friends know what I really look like, and that the picture was heavily edited, did I really want to keep perpetuating images that are based on a fantasy that can never be achieved?

So I created this image to make my point:


The point of this “Reality Check” picture was to remind everyone that all of the amazing images we see in ads and magazines, they’re not real. No one looks like this. Even the supermodels get Photoshopped, even the most gorgeous movie stars.

And the nice part is that the unedited pic got as much praise as the edited one. Because the people who know me and love me don’t love me for a perfect imaginary face, they love me for me.

Mission accomplished, I think.