Sometimes I wonder what would happen to our culture, our psyche, and our economy if it were illegal to airbrush any public photos. I mean, I’m curious about what all of the pictures we see on the covers of magazines and billboards actually look like before they’re tweaked in Photoshop.
As a consumer, when I look at ads with women sans any flaws at all – it does something to my brain. I think that the image I see is attainable by using the product, even though I intellectually know that the image has been manipulated to create a theoretical unicorn.
I look at these pictures and I can tell when the model’s arm has been slimmed down to 1/3 of its actual size. I can tell when all of her wrinkles have been wiped out, and I can also tell when her midsection has been pulled in to create an hourglass shape.
I know this stuff because I’ve been one of those models in the past. I’ve had cellulite erased, muscles more defined, moles wiped out and skin tone brightened. In the moment of watching these pics being edited, my Higher Self felt funky about it, but my Ego was all for it. As a health and fitness expert, role model, and public figure, I was attached to presenting myself as a real life Barbie. The last photo shoot I did was five years ago, and I decided I didn’t want to be a part of the false representation that is so common in our world today.
However, rather than taking pictures without them being edited, I just covered my body and didn’t bare any skin. I still shamed by body for having cellulite and marks or imperfections on my skin. I thought, “If I can’t look airbrushed in real life, I shouldn’t take pictures at all…”
By hiding and not speaking my truth, I was playing small and not being of service.
Every day, women are subjected to as many as 600 airbrushed images and these pictures are what we use as our barometer for what we are supposed to look like. I did some searching on Google and found some shocking before and afters. It’s a frustrating journey to be on when we’re chasing something that isn’t even attainable. We look at the perfected, after images and then turn to the nearest mirror and see what we consider to be imperfections. We make ourselves wrong for not being perfect and then we invest. Beauty products are sold faster than any other product in the world.
FIX, FIX, FIX…
I soon realized, through my own suffering of not attaining Barbie’s measurements, that it’s my purpose in life to inspire women and men to LOVE their bodies EXACTLY as they are in this exact moment. No airbrushing happens in any of my pictures now. I’m in control of all of my images, and I’m committed to what I stand for. Health and fitness goals are awesome, and I continue to encourage them with everyone I encounter, but my approach is different now.
Rather than having people chase ‘x amount’ of calories burned, a bikini-ready body, or melted inches off their waist, I advocate SELF-LOVE in this exact moment. When you love yourself, you do things to support that love. You move your body DAILY. You eat healthy, nourishing food. You allow yourself the rest your body is craving.
Soon enough, your clothes start to feel looser. Your range of motion increases. Your body feels light and movement is effortless. You wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Your hormones are balanced and your sugary food cravings disappear. If your goal is to be healthy and happy, a radiant and vibrant body will be a natural byproduct of that mission.
As a society, we’ve been putting the cart before the horse, or unicorn, rather.
It is my responsibility to love myself in this exact moment, so I can be an invitation for all women, and men, to accept who they are. We all are beautiful and unique in our own way. We don’t need to be perfect, because we are perfectly imperfect.
BeYOUtiful. BeYOUnique. Be YOU. And remember:
Love all that is you,
Jenna Phillips is a Total Wellness Philosopher, Certified Holistic Lifestyle Coach, AFAA Certified Personal Trainer & the founder of her lifestyle brand I’m On A Mission. Follow her on Twitter and be inspired.