A Fine Line: The Case For Living, and Being, Unfiltered

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When’s the last time you posted a photo on social media without altering it in some way? Without maybe smoothing a line, or choosing a filter that blurs out your freckles and balances your skin tone? Or brightening up the shot so that your eyes look a little more glowy and you maybe, just maybe, look a little more happy?

When’s the last time you shared your words with the world, without editing them, without softening them, without clicking “publish” without holding your breath?

When’s the last time you actually told the truth when someone asked how you were instead of just turning up the corners of your mouth and saying “I’m good!”

Something happened a few weeks ago that I haven’t talked about yet because frankly I needed some time to process it. I shared a selfie on Instagram (seen above) with some beautiful and very raw thoughts in the caption. It was a musing about women learning how to stand in their own power. It was meant to empower the woman who read it and fill her up with the courage she may have misplaced after maybe she gained some weight, or lost some hope. It was meant to encourage all of us, myself included, to freely proclaim our places in this world, to erase the lines others draw around our potential.

I decided to post the selfie unedited, other than making the picture black and white. There really wasn’t much thought behind not doctoring it up. I rarely do anything anymore to my face other than using a pretty filter here or there mainly because I just like the tones and colors and the vibe it can create for a photo. I deleted the FaceTune app from my phone months ago. Not to take some radical feminist stance, just because quite frankly, I got tired. Tired of smoothing my forehead. Tired of fixing the dark circles under my eyes. And I’m assuming you might be tired, too.

I woke up the next morning to a message from a friend who had photo shopped my selfie. She sent it back to me with my skin smoothed out, my freckles erased, and my dark circles removed. “Fixed it for you!” the text read.

I felt my stomach drop as if I had just tilted off the edge of a roller coaster. Not because I was hurt or insulted. But because the woman who did this truly did not mean any ill will toward me at all. She is a kind and amazing human, but after looking at my face, unfiltered, she saw a problem. She saw something to fix. And it got me thinking, have we become so used to seeing each other with our lines smoothed over that we have forgotten who we are without masks?

Oddly enough, the more vulnerable I become with my work and my words, the more comfortable I feel sharing a photo of myself with less makeup or with dark circles or maybe a little roll of fat peeking out somewhere. Those are the things that make us human. Those are the things that make us real. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to sweep those things under the rug or blur them out for good.

Some food for thought. How do you feel about removing some of your filters this week? How do you feel about letting some parts of you show that you may have tucked away behind a Valencia wall and the delete button? Listen. I’m not implying we should give up lipstick, burn our push up bras, and say whatever we want to say without considering the feelings of other people. I’m not implying we should live recklessly or forego our personal style or femininity. I’m not saying I’ll never use another pretty, moody filter or choose a photo where I think I look best. But there is certainly a fine line between altering our faces and our hearts so drastically that the cost of looking good on the outside makes us feel pretty bad on the inside. And I don’t know about you, but my heart is the prettiest feature I have. And it will never, ever, need a filter.

 

 

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Showing 20 comments
  • Zuzel Gonzalez
    Reply

    Love this, so many times we try to cover up who we truly are to look like these Barbies when there’s nothing more beautiful than our imperfections. You look beautiful! Cheers to no filters!

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you so much! xo

  • Alex
    Reply

    I love you for this: “And I don’t know about you, but my heart is the prettiest feature I have. And it will never, ever, need a filter.”

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      xoxo!!

  • Apryl
    Reply

    Beautiful piece right! Cheers to no filters!:-)

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you!

  • melissa donaldson
    Reply

    I absolutely love this post. You are beautiful and do inspiring. I finished reading Girl Code and ordered it for 4 of my girlfriends. I just ordered sparkle and fearless. Super excited to read. Seriously your book gave me confidence and was eye opening. Huge huge fan!!

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you so much! So happy you are enjoying my work, Melissa! xoxoxo

  • Jenny
    Reply

    Never actually realised just how much I change and alter my photos to post on social media yet meeting people in person does not bother me …….. glad it was pointed out to me . We are all beautiful and have no reason to change what makes us , us xxxx

  • Jodi
    Reply

    It’s funny, when I first glanced at your photo I thought, I love those long lashes and the freckles. Then I read your post, and I thought, you know, one of the reasons I like the freckles is because I don’t see them much. More often than not, you see make up tutorials covering up freckles and other so called “blemishes”. Now I love make-up, don’t get me wrong, I never met a red lipstick I didn’t like. But I love being real and seeing the real in others more. Thank you Cara for this post. #nofilterneeded

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you Jodi!! xoxo

  • Natalie
    Reply

    “my heart is the prettiest feature I have” ~ classic!

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you Natalie! xo

  • Lauren McLeod
    Reply

    This is AMAZING! Every time I take a selfie, I move all around the room to get the best lighting, and filter it 99% of the time. It’s stressful and time-consuming! You’ve inspired me to post a real, #nofilter selfie too! <3 xxx

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Yessss! xo

  • Jennie
    Reply

    Great post!! I’ve recently been on a cooking streak and I perfectly plate my food before sharing that perfect shot. A few weeks ago, I made a good meal where I conquered not one but two recipes. I tried to get that perfect plate shot but the food was just so messy, even though it was delicious. I decided to share a photo of my kitchen aftermath instead for those of us who get overwhelmed trying to make the perfect meal. I was pleasantly surprised that I got just as many likes and comments as I normally do and someone even commented on Facebook that the appreciate the honest shots. A dose reality is always a good reminder that we’re all doing just fine.

  • Kent Ickes
    Reply

    I’m a dude. You’re awesome. Enough said.

    • caraalwill
      Reply

      Thank you!

  • J
    Reply

    Love this! Totally agree we shouldn’t be blurring out what’s real about ourselves! You truly are an inspiration Cara, Thank you!

  • Noemi Peavie
    Reply

    Love this post! We are enough just the way we are 🙂

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