The Movement: True beauty is real

I love this video that has popped up in a few places:

It’s like these women are almost surprised at how disappointed they are at how they don’t/want/can’t own the beauty of the faces in these photos..the retouched, bleached, refined, blemish-removed, pore-airbrushed faces…just not seeing that perfected “beauty” in the image, and owning it as their own.

They know that the image doesn’t represent who they are…and so the pictures have a sort of hollowness.

Their words remind me of Jean Kilbourne’s words in her work of Killing us softly 4:


Women learn from a very early age that we must spend enormous amounts of time, energy and above all money, striving to achieve this look and feeling ashamed and guilty when we fail.  And failure is inevitable because the idea is based on absolute flawlessness.  She never has any lines or wrinkles, she certainly has no scars or blemishes, indeed she has no pores.  And the most important aspect of this flawlessness is that it can not be achieved, no one looks like this including her; and this is the truth, no one looks like this.  The supermodel Cindy Crawford once said, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” She doesn’t, she couldn’t, because this is a look that’s been created for years through airbrushing and cosmetics but these days it’s done through the magic of computer retouching.


This is tricky to negotiate, folks.  We have all been set up for failure.  All of us.

For men, they are exposed to literally 1000’s of images a day, which raises the bar to unattainable heights. Really, that’s not fair to a guy, because the woman he lives with has pores, and cold sores, and zits, and love handles…because that’s what real people have! Lest someone jump to conclusions that guys are shallow, let’s be honest.  Men are conditioned, because that’s how brains work, to expect this certain level of beauty that a part of them knows is unrealistic, but the other part of them is unconsciously brainwashed by these images of thousands of non-existent woman!!

For women, we are exposed to the same 1000’s of images, and the flood of these images from media would lead us to believe these are the norm. Stretch marks, cellulite, thick waisted, “A” cups and “DD” cups–women get what they get…and love handles are so much more the norm…but that’s hard to remember, you’d never know it from the commercials, billboards and magazine pics…and women feel ugly.

It confirms for me all over again, that I made the right decision not to photoshop our pictures of the therapists that we recently posted on our website.

Our teeth are not whitened, the flyaway hairs are flying high, the blemishes are visible, our colouring is uneven, and our wrinkles are on display to show where smiles have been…for the world to see…and all I can see is the real beauty of my colleagues.

I wouldn’t change anything about any of them. And so I didn’t.

It felt risky to do at the time, and I mulled over the idea of presenting us “as is” for about 3 weeks before I took the plunge.

Crazy how risky it felt to not take up the photographer’s offer to retouch the photos that we chose. But I breathed deep and stayed brave…

I am now totally convinced it was the way to go.  Anyone else want to join us in letting your real beauty show?

Poster encouraging "Be your own kind of beautiful" by Bergen and Associates Counselling

Let’s start a movement.

Let’s stop expecting the media to be the change.

We can be the change.

If you have a website, or promo pics for your profession…leave it real.  If you just got married, ask the photographer to print them as is, without retouching your zit, blemishes, or one-shade-off-white teeth.  You married each other “as is”–celebrate that…leave it real!  Your family photos that you are planning for spring…plan for the photographer to capture the sunlight in your hair as best as you can, and leave that the only glow in the pic…leave it real.

This is not about trying to be ugly.  The day of the shoot we gussied up some. Put on a clean shirt.  Solid colour to look nice. Some of us put on some lipstick and mascara…because that’s what we like to do. We honour our bodies by feeling good in them.

This about feeling beautiful, not being perfect.

And Doug, the photographer, well, he took pride in his work.  Put us under good lighting.  Snapped his best work. He’s a pro, and he did his usual good work. He likes to do a good job.

But we stopped there.  No retouching, no airbrushing.

To his credit, Doug did not look at me sideways when I told him no retouching.  He didn’t try to talk me out of it, and he was prepared to own his own work, unretouched. He. got. it.

Because we are real people…and we want others to see us as real.  Real makes us approachable. Authentic. Accessible.

Leave it real.

Post your photos on your website, or on your walls, and proudly proclaim:

“In an effort to combat unrealistic, unattainable perfection in the media, we have chosen to keep it real with unretouched photos.”

Join us in posting real photos?

You’ll be making a difference in this world for your sons and daughters.  They will thank you then.  
I thank you now.  🙂

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *