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