Updated: Jul 20
Are you obsessing over images you scroll through on your cell phone, online, or in magazines on a daily basis? Are you spending more time on the obsession than taking care of yourself? Are you experiencing more anxiety, depression, or eating disorder?
You Are Not Alone
I understand how damaging the constant scrutiny about weight, looks, and demeanor can be and the effects of low self-esteem from growing up as a model at a very young age. It is uncomfortable to be judged and compared to other models standing right next to you as the company locates their ideal candidate. Even calling these mass gig talent roundups a “cattle call,” one can feel depleted. Sure, it is part of that industries culture. But, I can tell you it is painful. So, much pressure it can drive a person to develop an eating disorder. You may feel the pain and pressure to be perfect by comparing yourself to the vast number of imagery on social media, advertisements, online content, and even TV and movies.
In my teenage years, I also struggled with self-identity as I flipped through the pages of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle Magazines. I wanted to look like those models. I wanted to be perfect or what I thought was perfect. It has taken years of self-discovery, therapy, and being a hands-on makeup and hair artist for almost 30 years that would slowly reveal what beauty truly means to me. I have a lot of empathy for people suffering from anxiety, eating disorders, and even depression. I know what it feels like.
I hope that by sharing this blog post you will gain insight and a better understanding of how to view things in a different light to help strengthen your journey of self-care and self-love.
First, let’s take a look at what drives these obsessions. #youarenotalone
In part, these obsessions with trying to be perfect can develop if we are exposed to a constant stream of content. We are creatures of habit and routine and may prefer consistency over spontaneity. Do you find yourself picking up your cell phone for a scroll fest because you may have a spare minute or two, but end up down the rabbit hole for an hour, only to come out of it with self-loathing or feelings of jealousy and pain?
Social media isn’t going away, but there are a few things to consider when participating in the activity.
It is important to differentiate between what is real and what is dream-like illusory. By maintaining the awareness and the understanding that social media and advertising is competing for your time and attention. Businesses need your business and they will create images and ads that grab your attention. If you keep this in mind it will help you to avoid the pitfalls of perfectionism.
Although there are many areas and topics to discuss, this article will focus on the beauty industry and how that can affect your psyche. #perfectionism
Attention Grabbing Imagery
The beauty culture we live in can drive and create an obsession with being perfect. When we allow ourselves to be flooded with imagery intended to capture a viewer’s attention, it can develop into a habit as AI algorithms feed us more of the same attention-grabbing imagery. We can get lost, intimidated, and even sadly develop disorders. #beautyculture
Beauty by Design
If you can develop the awareness that what you are seeing is by design, then you may be better equipped to differentiate between what is real and what is dream-like illusory.
Say you take a picture of a red rose in your garden with beautiful cascading sunlight over the petals. It is nice, but you want to use the photo-enhancing technology on your cell phone. Why not? It is available, easy to use, and in the palm of your hand. You can easily alter or edit the photo with color saturation to bring out a richer red or light adjust to create more balance.
It only takes a few functions to tweet a picture to go from the original to an altered state. The rose is beautiful in the original photo but becomes more captivating because the red is so vibrant we may take more time viewing it. You might think, wow, I have never seen such a vibrant red rose before. Well, you haven’t because it is edited. You may show a friend who is impressed by the photo of the fabulous red rose and ask, “Where can I get that gorgeous rose bush? I want one too”.
Now, this beautifully altered photograph of a rose may not cause you any issues or mental disorders, but the concept is similar to other photos or advertisements you may see. Photo editing has existed for many decades, even before social media and cell phones.
Advertise to Buy
A successful advertising campaign drives sales and a company’s bottom line. Millions of dollars spent, countless hours of time, focused effort, organizing, and branding are not inherently wrong. An ad or photo can be pleasing to the eye, hence the “capture.” You may see a well-thought-out design as a piece of artwork.
Stellar creative artists who have access to only the best resources and equipment with talented designers, directors, photographers, stylists, models, actors, makeup artists, hair stylists, and crew are coming together to create and achieve a thing of beauty. The photos are reviewed on-site and different angles taken until one or two money-making "captures", out of hundreds, are selected for further post-production analysis and editing. Everyone keeps going until the creative director calls it a wrap. All the elements are inline and the money-making image is stamped in time.
Having used my talent in the advertising industry focused on beauty and fashion, I can say there is no malicious intent to make the viewer feel bad; the objective is to capture your attention long enough to generate a sale. Being part of a beautiful eye-catching ad campaign is rewarding. Unfortunately, there is an after effect that can cause a viewer to over analyze themselves and constantly compare. Imagine if you had all the best artists doing their magic on you and how that would translate on film. But, we can’t live life thinking that we should live in a bubble of unrealistic expectations.
Even the famous painter Michelangelo, who meticulously painted the Sistine Chapel, created the awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, and immaculate work of art. He was a master, a genius at capturing the viewers’ attention.
Now, I am not directly comparing advertising campaigns to Michelangelo’s genius; I am only using it as an idea to explain how beauty captures the viewers’ attention. I think it is human nature to appreciate beauty- the beauty in nature, art, architecture, etc.
But, we forget to nurture what is beautiful within us. #nurtureyourbeauty
There are decades of edited pictures in fashion and beauty magazines with post-production artists who would make specific adjustments for each model to enhance their visual appearance. Artists who can make minor edits to every part of the face and body change the aesthetic to what they believe will catch your attention. For example, editors can slightly change the model’s length of legs and arms to sculpt the body to achieve a more refined silhouette to capture the viewer’s attention.
All ads are edited versions of the original. The original photo is hand-crafted by highly skilled creative artists.
Social media filters can complicate the scenario by altering what is real to make it more captivating to the viewer. Social media filters are apps that are widely accessible now and have built-in parameters of collected data that edit the picture into a dream-like version.
Instead of seeing it as deceptive, look at it for what it is, an edited version of the original.
The problem lies with thinking and feeling; we are supposed to resemble these edited images, which are only a snapshot of time with all the edited accouterments. Avoid projecting that altered version of the original photo as the standard. Often when we don’t meet those expectations, we can feel depressed, worthless, or not good enough. The deal is you can’t; no one can. Even the most beautiful people don’t see themselves as beautiful. If you can look at all the images as artist expressions or designed to bring about a point of sale and not as the expectation of how you should look, it might help to lower your anxiety about being perfect which does not exist in the real world. No one is perfect! #photoedit
Self-care is Self-love
Remember that beauty advertising, like other advertising, is designed to catch your attention. With that said, it is more important to take care of yourself than fretting over trying to live up to unrealistic and edited expectations. Give yourself some space and time to pamper yourself. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. It is the pampering of oneself that creates feelings of beauty. Self-care is self-love. There are so many ways to care for yourself. It can be time spent on skincare, preparing and eating healthy foods, staying hydrated, and doing some exercise or physical activity that makes you feel good. Challenge your brain and fulfill your curiosity by learning something new. Centering yourself through meditation and mindfulness are all great ways to build your self-worth and value. Being able to differentiate between what is real and what is edited can save your mental health. Know it, apply it, and you will feel better. #selfworth
From my experience, real beauty comes from the ability to love yourself for who you are and forge a sustainable path of self-care. You are the best version of you. Be an original!
Challenge: Do one activity each day that builds your self-esteem. #selfesteem
Seek medical and therapeutic treatment if you are suffering from eating disorders, anxiety, and/or depression.