Let me tell you a story about a girl I know. We will call her Anna, but that’s not her real name. She is smart and funny and sporty. Loves books and old movies. And like lots of girls, she loves reading fashion magazines and trawling Insta, looking at gorgeous photos of celebs and models and influencers. And posting shots of herself too.
She is also dieting. As in this girl is not eating the lunch her mama or daddy packs her each day because she doesn’t want to gain weight “before swimsuit season.”
She is nine. NINE. And already feeling the pressure of looking a certain way.
Here’s the thing.
To me, this is personal. I grew up in a time where waif looking models were the most sought-after ideals of feminine beauty. They were everywhere (and I didn’t even have social media to contend with back then).
Back in the 90s, images were being doctored and “perfected,” but only by pricey experts in agencies.
Now, every kid in the school has a phone and can ruthlessly filter, edit, and slim their images in one click.
The result is a huge difference between their virtual reality/ online appearance and the way they actually look in the mirror. The results of this can be hugely damaging.
Now they’re not only comparing themselves to models and peers, these kids are comparing their actual looks with their online appearance. That’s scariest of all. Maybe Anna feels good about her latest heavily edited post (validated by lots of likes and comments) but the girl in the mirror doesn’t compare to the image and isn’t “good enough.”
I’m not saying there is no place in the world for Photoshop, or even that it’s always bad—it can actually be really fun to play around with! But it’s important to do it considerately and openly, so that kids like Anna understand that it is fun fantasy and illusion, not real life.
Young girls can be vulnerable to this. The social and societal pressure on them and their bodies has never been higher, and it’s taking a serious toll.
Even as a young girl I was very aware of my body. I knew I didn’t look like the cover models, so I felt like I was wrong.
I was a pretty confident girl, but it got to me. I started to look at avenues for rapid weight loss and quickly found ideas that were not healthy. I think it’s really important to be open about this, so I will be talking about it in an upcoming video blog.
If it can affect me that much, as a confident girl, with strong female role models, growing up in an age without social media or one click photo editing, then what the heck are we putting into the heads of impressionable kids today?! (And as a side note, I know this affects boys as well as girls. But we’re focusing on the gals for the purpose of this article).
This is why ELC does not use Photoshop or airbrushing on any of our models, and we never will.
Our Everyday Women are gorgeously real. What you see is unapologetically what you get, both online and in person.
And this is what you’ll get on our website and socials: little marks of dirt on the women’s feet. Stretch marks and scars and tan lines and dimples. Tattoos and imperfect teeth and wisps of hair. Don’t believe me? Check it out.
And I bet you didn’t even see it because you were too busy noticing how confident and beautiful they look naturally.
This is why we won’t ever filter or Photoshop our gorgeous Everyday Women.
For Anna, for girls like her, and for myself as a confused kid.
I dream of the time when it is the norm to NOT airbrush, and ads or posts that are airbrushed must disclose that they’ve been edited.
Because your body tells a story, and it’s not a story that can be told in Photoshop.
We make size YOU. You’re perfect. Just the way you are.
Want more on this? Watch for when we release my video blog.
And remember if this brings up issues for you or you have concerns for a loved one, you can contact Beyond Blue (https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites).
We must look out for each other. Lots of love, Danielle XXX