Brightness up. Contrast up. Highlights up. Shadows down – just a touch. Smooth out a spot or two and er, ah yeah maybe edit my tummy a little flatter and make my thighs a little slimmer. Cellulite be gone with the smoothing tool! Oooh, and, whilst I’m at it let’s just make my bum a little more rounder too… And with just a few clicks on my computer or strokes on my phone, that picture of me on the beach is suddenly looking very Kim Kardashian-ified. Who is that goddess on the screen!? I barely recognise her! Ah, that’s because she’s the fantasy version of myself. All ultra-perfect with my idealised body. And she doesn’t exist.
People may seem surprised at this, but I’m going to have to be the bitch that lifts this lid on this semi-secret and say yeah, many bloggers most certainly edit their photos – from tiny tweaks to true transformations – not simply just changing the brightness and contrast settings. I’ve heard some admitting to getting rid of double chins, slimming down thighs, cinching stomachs, thinning out arms, just to name a few little bits. You only need to meet a blogger in real life at an event to see that she’s not quite like the images she posts online. And do you want to know what? I did it too.
I look back at the photos of my last holiday in Thailand and feel disgusted at how I look now in comparison (I look waaaay slimmer back then) but actually, I edited a lot of the photos I took last time to smooth out cellulite, make my hips slimmer and give the impression of more toned legs. So now I’ll compare myself endlessly, punish myself for not looking as good and letting go, when actually what I’m comparing myself to isn’t even real. I’m comparing myself to a version that didn’t even exist. It feels wrong for people to be hashtagging #goals when it’s not just their goals: its my goals too. Because this image isn’t how I really look but how I wish I looked.
I have 36k followers on Instagram – not enough to lead to plummeting levels of self esteem with my digitally nipped-and-tucked photos – but knowing how social media can affect girls these days, the least I can do is know that I’m putting an honest photo of myself on the internet. I feel there’s some kind of moral obligation as bloggers to keep it just a bit real.
So, what now? Where’s the line between what’s acceptable to edit and what isn’t? Photoshop is an incredible tool that can transform a photo from something bland to something totally arresting. I’ll always edit my images to make the colours pop and look as pretty as they can be. And I have zero qualms in editing out spots because having a once-a-month bad breakout isn’t the true representation of myself. But slimming down my body and smoothing out cellulite? No thanks. I’m done with it. I’m not perfect and I don’t want anyone else to think that I am or that they have to be either.
I think I’m going to just stick to flattering angles and a mantra of don’t edit or just don’t post it at all.