Three things inspired me to write this week about the way pictures are edited on social media.
The first is an article in this month’s Cosmopolitan called Portrait of a Selfie Addict.
Charlotte Michaels, 24, takes hundreds and in her words ‘probably thousands’ of pictures every day. She sometimes stays up until 4am processing and editing them ready to go on Facebook and Instagram.
The second is the ridicule that Geordie Shore and I’m A Celebrity star Vicky Pattison received after an obvious Photoshop edit in one of her Instagram pictures. The sides of her photo, in this case a wall and a staircase, are wonky, meaning she could have pinched the picture so her figure appears smaller.
The third, and possibly the most shocking, is the news from a report by the Children’s Society that one in seven girls aged 10-15 are unhappy with their appearance. That did it for me.
Now I’m the first to admit that I edit my pictures. I’m guilty of using the readily-available filters on Instagram and deliberating over which one looks best. I’m also guilty of having used other apps to make my pictures look better. But if you were to ask me why I do this, I couldn’t really give you a solid answer.
I wouldn’t want any girl aged 10-15 to think they needed to edit their pictures – but – I understand why they do.
Some people think it’s because everybody else does it, and to a certain extent it is. But it’s also because of the plain and simple fact that we want to make ourselves look better. We have so many tools and tricks at our fingertips, it’s too easy to do. So why wouldn’t we?
It’s fine, but there are limits, and evidently people get carried away. I don’t see the point in editing your pictures so much so that you look different in person, and I wouldn’t want any girl aged 10-15 to think they needed to edit their pictures – but – I understand why they do.
Because of Instagram millions of pictures are lurking just behind the screens of our smart phones.
We’re exposed to a constant stream of selfies and pictures of women dolled up on nights out. We follow those make-up artists who can work magic on anyone because we want our own make-up to look like that. We’re on the profiles of models like Kendall Jenner and we’re looking at the perfect pictures uploaded by fashion bloggers.
We follow these women and accounts because we want to, and even if we don’t, they pop up anyway on the explore page or because someone you do follow has liked one of their posts. It’s something from which we can’t escape.
If you read to the end of the Cosmo article you find out that although Charlotte has narcissistic tendencies, she was also bullied and had anorexia.
Vicky hit out at her body shamers after becoming fed up with the constant barrage of abuse she receives.
She’s being called a hypocrite for telling women to love themselves as they are, but editing her own pictures.
Even though I wish she wouldn’t be so obvious about it (because some of it is really obvious – the blurry under-eyes look worse than dark circles), I don’t blame her for feeling she has to do it.
She too wants to make herself look better and if she didn’t edit her pictures she’d receive nasty comments anyway, which young girls will still pick up on. Not every woman edits her pictures because she’s vain.
We’re not going to stop using Instagram and neither are the young girls who are growing up with it, we can’t change that.
But what we can do (besides taking control of their phones and restricting time on social media) is teach them that being themselves, working hard, being kind to your friends and family and helping others is more attractive than an edited picture ever will be.