It was my spring break senior year and I was heading down to Florida with two of my girlfriends. It doesn’t get better than that, right?
Well, actually it does. My friend came home the weekend before we were supposed to leave and told us that the swimwear company that she was interning for wanted us to take suits with us on the trip and take a bunch of photos for their social media outlets. They wanted to get some “lifestyle” shots of real girls just having fun. Free swimwear and the chance to be a model for a week…not a bad gig.
We headed over to the warehouse the week before we left and spent the afternoon trying on Brazilian bikinis and avoiding our looming midterms. It was so much fun to come out in suit after suit and have her boss fawn over us and how great we looked.
That is, until we started talking about the actual photographs.
“So, Sarah*, maybe you should make sure you’re wearing a pair of jean shorts in the photos? You’ve got great boobs, but your butt isn’t exactly Brazilian bikini ready.”
“Cate*, let’s maybe find a more supportive top for you? We may even have to go with a one piece to harness those double D’s.”
“Chelsea, you’re a little pale but no worries, we can totally fix that afterwards with Photoshop.”
Slowly the “Y’all look sooo cute!” turned into harsh critiques of our bodies followed by an assurance that Photoshop could erase our imperfections. We left with bikinis in hand, but I couldn’t help but feel a little strange about the whole ordeal.
Sarah tried to ease my mind– “Chels, that’s just the fashion industry. I do have thick thighs and big hips! What’s the big deal if they slim me down in a picture? I’ll look fantastic!”
That only made things worse. This poor girl–my friend who is normally smart, sexy, and confident–was willingly putting herself down because “fashion” said so.
We ended up taking some pictures and yes, some of them ended up Photoshopped. The end result wasn’t too different from the originals, but I will admit, it is strange looking at an altered version of yourself. Suddenly I was tanned and my tousled beach waves had grown in volume. I looked good, but I didn’t look like me.
It’s easy to put down women who allow themselves to be Photoshopped. But the reality is, all of those “perfect” women we see in magazines (and even on Instagram) have already been told they aren’t good enough. Each stroke of the airbrush tool is a blow to their self-esteem, just like looking at that image is a blow to yours.
I’m no model. I’m just a girl in a bikini. But I can tell you…Photoshop hurts.
By: Chelsea Klein