Let me preface by saying that I Instagram, and I Instagram a lot. I edit my photos and put them through these magical filters that instantly make me or whatever I’m posting better and more vibrant. It’s a simple part of this wonderful technology we’ve been blessed to have as millennials. We all joke about how everything looks better with an Instagram filter: it makes you skinnier, tanner, prettier, etc. I’m guilty of it! I laugh looking back at some of my spring break pictures where it was pretty clear that there was a filter in use. We look in awe and bewilderment at pictures with #NoFilter, because it’s become a norm that if you post a pretty picture on the Insta, it most definitely has a filter. And if it doesn’t, then whoopdee doo, you are now either a) naturally gorgeous or b) an amazing photographer.
But the other day, I was looking through some pictures from the summer and was trying to find a good one to post. Getting a little frustrated at the fact that it looked like my eyes were closed in all of them, I thought, “If only there were a filter that could make my eyes look bigger and my mouth smaller.”
And then I stopped right there.
How on earth would there be a filter to resize my eyes and make my smile smaller? Is this what it’s come to? Wishing that there were a filter to try to prove to my Instagram followers that I didn’t, in fact, have small eyes? Most everyone that follows me knows that I laugh a lot. I smile a lot. And when I do, I am most likely squinting and have my abnormally large gums protruding. So why I was I concerned with trying to filter out something that is true to myself?
It made me think of how we’re all trying to constantly ‘put a filter on it’.
Yes, we’ve all seen the Dove beauty commercial, bashed Victoria’s Secret angels, critiqued photography and magazines for using photoshop and not portraying ‘real women’. We use these terms ‘media’ and ‘society’ so frequently to describe things that ‘aren’t real’. But how can we expect this so-called ‘society’ to stop changing photos if that’s what we do every single day on Instagram?
Someone I follow on Twitter even joked the other day that when you see a girl in real life that you’re used to seeing in super-edited Instagram photos, it’s the biggest letdown. We even joke that we wish we could walk around with an Instagram filter on!
It’s more than just print ads of flawless models. It’s about how we’re always trying to convey a different person than who we are.
We’ve all heard some of these phrases a million times, and especially as girls. Not because there’s no meaning behind it, but because these words have become trite clichés.
1. “Love yourself for who you are.”
2. “Don’t change for anyone.”
3. “Your imperfections are beautiful and what make you you.”
4. “If someone doesn’t like you for who you are, forget about them.”
They’ve lost their meaning because they seem to be overused. But could it be that they’re overused because they’re…
Thinking back on my dilemma of small eyes and a big smile, I thought, this is what I’ve been given and I embrace it. I’ve tried to think about it for everything about myself, not just my eyes and smile. I was given big hips that may or may not come with big thighs. I was given a great height that may or may not be annoying when everyone jokes that you’ll “never find a guy tall enough”.
But you know what? I can’t change those things about myself…and why should I?
If we go around acting like we need to change who we are for what we think others want us to be, we’ve lost who we are.
It’s not even about our looks, it can be about our personality. I am a happy person. I do what I love and I love what I do. There are people in my life that may not care for what I stand for, but there are people that love and support me because the things that I love are what make me… me.
So I’m not worrying about it and I’m not putting an Instagram filter on myself. Yes, I will continue to put filters on my real pictures, but trust me, I won’t be looking for a filter that fixes my gummy smile or my love of life anymore.