Selfies. The word says it all. You take a picture of yourself, with whatever you want to showcase in the background. You not only want to share with the immediate world (or at least your friends) where you are and what you’re doing, you implicitly want to show everyone what you look like at that moment in time. But first, do you make use of Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook’s “beauty” filters? These have the ability to make you look as airbrushed-to-perfection as any fashion magazine’s cover model. It removes wrinkles, rounds eye shape, lightens skin tone, even eliminates jowls, creates fuller lips and slims noses.
But how far do we take this? Before Photoshop, a picture, as the saying had it, was worth a thousand words. If you had a picture of someone or something, that was taken as a 100% representation of the truth. There it was, in black and white (or, later, living color), and all arguments ended. Before airbrushing in magazines and Snap’s “beauty” filter, if you saw a photo of someone, you knew exactly what they looked like. This is just not the case anymore.
Isn’t this a good thing? Don’t we all want to present our best face to the world? Don’t we want to control the image of us that goes out into cyberspace?
But there’s another side to all this app-induced perfection, one that’s not so pretty. It might seem odd for Pilates experts to raise this issue, but we’re concerned about the impact of this “filtering” on users’ self-image. We strive to improve and enhance our clients’ health and overall appearance, and it’s important that we, regardless of imperfections, accept who we are.
How do we do that when something, used by over 100 million people, constantly reminds us of how imperfect we are? Don’t we do that often enough to ourselves every time we look in the mirror? Our hips are too wide, our skin too blotchy, our eyes aren’t round enough, our face is too fat. Be honest: We’re our own worst critics. And now we have some anonymous collection of bits and bytes reinforcing that judgment with every selfie we take.
This isn’t a new concern, of course. For decades, some have challenged the idealized beauty standards promoted by the fashion magazines. But now we’re in a position to do it to ourselves. To buy in to what the apps’ creators define as “beauty.” It tells us with every “snap” how we “should” look, and how we’re failing at that. How can this possibly be healthy?