British photographer Rankin shocked the world with his new exhibit ‘Selfie Harm’. The photography series showed just how far teens go to change their looks on social media.
The teens featured in Rankin’s series were given 5 minutes to edit their photos until each thought their photo was social media ready. Many girls slimmed down facial features and added makeup. The after shots look like completely different people.
We used to only see edits like this in magazines. We were quick to blame them for our unrealistic beauty standards. That argument holds no weight today.
The young women in this shoot said they preferred their unedited photos. Yet each one severely edited their photos to the point of being unrecognizable. It’s like a more personal version of the Dove billboard.
We see photos like this all day. On Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. You name it. We’ve become so conditioned that not only do we admire these fake photos but aim to be like them.
It’s disheartening to see more of this activity while so many influencers and other celebrities are speaking out about the harm of these fake photos on social media. It creates the idea within us all that unless we look like this, receive a ton of likes on each photo, and are committed to creating and keeping up this online persona, then we’re not enough.
This practice of over-editing photos tends to be most prominent amongst women. Think of all the photoshop fails we see articles about. Maybe we see this more amongst women because we still think, in some way, we are in competition with each other. Not to mention we’re our own worst critic by far.
It’s so easy to wipe away our concerns with the abundance of editing apps available through our smartphones. But at the end of the day, what’s the point of all of this? Sure you may garner a lot of likes, maybe even a brand partnership. But is this all you want to remember? Or be remembered for?
I won’t lie and say I’m confident in every single selfie I post. I often run my choices by my best friends before I upload. This severe level of editing is something I can’t justify spending time on. Not to mention how blatantly obvious these edits tend to be.
Instead of spending time liking these photos or editing your photos to match up with the ‘standard’, let’s open a dialogue about why we feel we have to do this. If we can explicitly address this issue, each and every person who edits their photos, then maybe we will lose the need to edit our photos to this extent.
Let’s not forget that this issue doesn’t just plague women. Many men more than likely edit their photos severely as well for the same exact reason. Feeling inadequate and wanting to belong doesn’t favor a gender.
Every single person on this planet has more to offer than just their looks. Looking like a supermodel online doesn’t automatically make you interesting or better than the next person. You are beautiful as you are right this moment and I can promise you that a lot more people will appreciate your natural, truthful photo than one that looks like all the rest.
Image courtesy of Artnet News