Dear Photoshopped Girl

I understand the temptation to Photoshop your body into something it’s not. God knows I’m not a shining example of body confidence. Here’s the thing, though: I went hunting through your album looking for pictures that hadn’t been altered. I wanted to know what you were ashamed of, and there it was: the real, unedited you. You’re perfect in every way.

I’m struggling to understand why a woman as exquisite as you is unhappy with her perfection. If there’s one person in the world who has reason to love her body, it’s you. There is not a sagging breast or inch of cellulite in sight. You’re a flawless hourglass. God, if I looked like you I’d want to do away with clothes for the rest of my life. You’ve not even had plastic surgery—those impossible breasts of yours are 100% natural.

You got me thinking about what I see in the mirror. Before I arrived at this website, I thought my body was fatally flawed because my breasts are victims of gravity. Pre-Fetlife the only women I’d seen stamped with the words ‘good enough’ were Photoshopped models in fashion magazines. Then I found out that men are attracted to the real deal: The Body Authentic, lumps, gravity, and all. It was an epiphany, and it made me like my reflection a hell of a lot more than I had before.

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Even so, I could give you a list of my flaws today, and it’d take five minutes to create. I know the ‘ugly’ of me that well because I remind myself of it every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a window. My list might not be as long as my arm anymore, but it still exists. You? My God, woman, you’re prettier than a Vogue model. If you don’t see your beauty, how will I ever see mine?

Let’s not bother with inner beauty being more important than prettiness. You and I have spent too many years learning the lie that hips are more important than compassion, so let’s be honest about that. We both feel shame when we look at our photographs. It’d take years of therapy to eradicate that, and I’d rather talk about how we think now.

‘Not good enough.’ What does that even mean? Your shame can’t come from what’s in the mirror because that’s exquisite. It can’t come from what you see in magazines because you’re more phenomenal than anything I’ve ever seen in Cosmopolitan. It can’t come from a false idea of beauty because Oxford would put you in its dictionaries if they had pictures.

Before I saw the unedited ‘you’ I already knew that beauty came from inside, but now I know that perceptions of ugliness come from inside, too. They’re nothing more than illusions. If your concept of your looks is deluded, maybe mine is as well. Maybe women feel ashamed of their bodies not because of what they look like but despite it. Maybe my shame is as pointless as yours.

At first I resented the fact that you’d Photoshopped your picture, but now I want to thank you for it. You’ve shown me that if I magically became perfect, I still wouldn’t become a shining example of body confidence. I’m going to celebrate my reflection a little more each day. I won’t be able to do that perfectly straight away. Lord, I’m not that good at evolving, but now I know that flaws are nothing more than delusions. I will always remember your photograph, but I won’t use the memory to feel inadequate. I’ll use it to remind myself that if I’m to celebrate my body, I have to find that ability inside myself.

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