Photoshop Is for Wimps

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Here's something I just saw on Facebook:

I watched it, and then I watched it again.

I looked out my window at the yellow leaves on the horse chestnut trees in my neighborhood, one of the only things brightening the sodden gray way October is ending. I tried to think up a clever comment to add to the thread about it. I felt a leaden mixture of recognition and dejection in my lower abdomen.

Everything in the whole world managed to tell me by the time I was twelve that I had to find ways--razors, tweezers, dyes, cosmetics, clothes, exercise, diets--to do to my own body what the computer did to this woman's. If my legs weren't long, I had to use the right clothes to make them look longer. If my ass was too big--and I found it striking that fixing her ass was the very last thing they did--I had to find a way to shrink it. I had to reshape my eyebrows and cover any imperfection in my skin.

I love the scene in Pulp Fiction where Fabienne, attempting to explain why she wishes she had a pot belly, says, "It's unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same." I dated this guy once who had kind of a big ass for a guy. I remember looking at a picture of him on Facebook and thinking, "He's got kind of a lot of junk in his trunk for a guy." I wouldn't say it wasn't pleasing to the eye, but it was definitely pleasing to the touch: muscular and firm, with plenty to hang on to.

The reason I mention all this is because once when I was telling him what a great ass he had, I asked him what he thought of it, and he said he didn't. "Seriously?" I asked. "You've never, like, stood sideways in front of a mirror and checked out how your ass looked?"

"Of course not," he said.

"Not even in a dressing room when you're trying on pants?"

"I don't need to look at my ass to see if my pants fit," he said.

"Actually, you do," I said.

"No," he countered. "You can tell by how they feel."

"Maybe if they're something you've been wearing for a while," I said. "But when you're buying something new, don't you want to see to see if it looks good enough to spend money on?"

He shrugged and frowned. "Well, I don't have to look at my ass specifically. You can tell from looking at everything, all at once."

"Wow," I said. "This is fascinating. You've never even been curious about what your ass looks like? You've never even thought, 'I should know what my body looks like from all different angles'?"

"Well, when you say it like that..." he said. "Do you want me to look at it?"

"I don't really care," I said. "I'm just fascinated that you could be almost 40 years old and never have managed to check out your own ass. Every woman I have ever known has spent so much time staring at her ass in a mirror, wondering if it's the right size or shape, if what she's wearing makes it look too big or too flat or too wide, if she needs to diet or exercise more to make it look better. But you're saying that it's never even occurred to you, as you look at yourself in a mirror, to step back from the whole vision of yourself and evaluate specific body parts and how they look compared to everything else."

"I... well, no," he said.

"You have no fucking idea how lucky that makes you," I said. "Think most guys are like you?"

He shrugged. "Probably?"

"You might be right," I said. "But I somehow can't believe it."

He didn't have to look at himself because he accepted that he was basically OK, all of him, just as he was. Sure, he could get a haircut when his hair got shaggy, or buy a new shirt in a cool color, and he was unhappy about the middle-aged spread he was starting to acquire. But there was nothing about his physical presence that was fundamentally wrong, nothing that required fixing. He managed to go through four decades thinking that just being an average guy with average guy parts was enough.

And it's not just that women don't have that. It's that women are trained to be anxious about EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of their looks: their ass, their hair, their feet, their necks (they elongate her neck!) , their skin, their everything. Nothing is ever good enough the way it is.

And you can't rely on a computer to fix a picture of you. You have to change your actual body, and you have to spend the money and effort yourself.

In case you haven't figured it out, this is one more reason we need feminism.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on October 30, 2013 10:23 AM.

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