Apparently my Google Pixel 3 doesn’t think I’m pretty enough. Or, at least, it thinks I think I’m not pretty enough. So, it concluded it should help me out by retouching my photos without me even asking… in fact, without even notifying me! It just assumed I’d prefer having a “better” face in my photos. Excuse me?!?!
I’ve been acting professionally since age 15. I’ve dealt with pressure related to my physical appearance since my first shoot for acting headshots. Actually, the pressure goes back way further than that if you count things like dance recital costumes & getting teased by other kids… but the professional pressure started with that first photo shoot.
Tame the curly hair. Suck in your stomach. Throw your shoulders back. And so on. (Granted, throwing your shoulders back is good for your posture, and my posture needed work back then. It still does today. So I should probably revisit that particular bit of advice…)
At age 19, I graduated to a new level of pressure when I got my first job on national TV: a 3 year role on the ABC soap opera “All My Children.” I had grown up watching AMC with my mom & grandmother – it was a dream come true to join the cast! There I was, working with these actors I had admired for years, like Susan Lucci & Julia Barr; many of the older veterans had amazing careers even before AMC, like David Canary (“Bonanza”) & Ruth Warrick (“Citizen Kane”). My third day of work, we shot the “Woman of the Year Banquet” with the entire cast, scenes in which I delivered multiple monologues. I had nightmares the night before. The taping went great. Susan herself complimented me on my work when we wrapped. Shooting those scenes was both terrifying & exhilarating.
Wardrobe fittings, however, were terrifying & awful. Someone else is dressing you, you have no say. Then that someone (empowered by your employer) takes a tape measure to your waist & says, “When your waist is 27 inches, then we can work with you.” The result is a miserable feeling of being too much & not enough, all at the same time.
There’s a lot more to the story… tortuous personal trainer/dietician (also empowered by my employer), weight loss, compulsive overeating, weight gain, depression, almost losing my job. But it went far beyond AMC. Binge eating disorder took over my early 20s for a solid 5 years.
Eventually, as I did the hard work of recovery, God delivered me from the eating disorder. I learned self-acceptance, and how to focus on pleasing God instead of other people… and I slowly got healthy, from the inside out.
Not that I have it all down (I definitely don’t!), but for the most part, I have healthy self-acceptance & self-respect, and a healthy physical body that I try to steward well. It’s been a hard-fought journey, learning to be content with how God made me. And the journey continues as the years add up & my physical body reflects that. My hair isn’t as thick as it used to be… my skin isn’t as smooth & unlined as it once was… I have a very expressive face, and my laugh lines (& frown lines) tell the tale of many emotions during my several decades on earth.
So I’m just fine with those lines, Pixel, thank you very much. And after a Google search to learn how to turn off the automatic retouching, Pixel is no longer acting like I’m not pretty enough, or young enough, or whatever. Overcoming judgment from ourselves & other people is hard enough… we don’t need it from our technology, too!
In this shiny world of retouched & filtered photos plastered all over social media, let’s not lose touch with reality. Let’s lose the filters.