Listen Up, Internet

Dear Internet,

I got something I want you to hear.

I saw your Dove Real Beauty ads and I liked them and I shared them and I even cried during some of them. It was so viral that I didn’t need to share the recent video of the average looking girl lying playfully on her stomach who was Photoshopped into a long and lean sex kitten seducing me with her new Barbie doll face. And soon after that, Jennifer Lawrence’s before and after Photoshopped cover of some magazine I never heard of, was this huge hit among girl power enthusiasts everywhere. And even I was all, “They made her nostrils bigger for Pete’s sake! This is a travesty!!” So, I started to think… do I cancel my gym membership? Am I supposed to embrace my love handles and look at them with pride now? Do I have to throw away all of this makeup?

I love my makeup. I hate my love handles. Wow, that feels really good to say. It’s my truth and no amount of exposure to the media’s airbrushing practices is ever going to change the fact that I wish I didn’t have love handles.

Yes, we can become slaves to every blemish, dark circle, fine line, scar and dry patch on our faces. And on a bad day, I might go out into the world hiding each pore with a veil of makeup and sitting in uncomfortable positions to decrease any rolls that might develop in my mid-section, because to do otherwise would make me feel useless. And with all that negativity in mind, I might even start searching for traces of these sins on other women’s bodies so I feel “okay” and can breathe easily, thinking, “She’s still pretty and she has a zit! I’m acceptable. I’m worthy of love!” And even though I do go “makeup-less” at least one day a week, it’s not for the emotionally freeing purposes outlined in many women’s blogs and magazines – it’s because makeup causes wrinkles, acne, large pores, etc. and I just don’t want those things. I’ve cried over a few blackheads. I have. But that’s my thinking on a bad day.

Most of the time – 98% of the time – I wear my makeup and sit up straight because even before I could say “glycolic peel” I thought it was fun to feel pretty. And you know what, internet? I DO admire JLaw’s body on the cover of that magazine. I wish I had that body. But I would never actually believe I’m “supposed” to have that body. I know that no man worthy of my love would actually expect me to look like that. And it’s okay that Photoshop makes models look thinner or fatter or younger or older. I like looking at attractive people. I can look at an airbrushed photo and think, “That girl is really pretty.” But I can look in the mirror and also think, “That girl is really pretty.”

Once we stop putting our self-worth into what we see in every reflection – from our bathroom mirrors, to store windows, to the shiny exterior of parked cars – we can still take great pleasure in purchasing a new tube of Benefit mascara. It’s okay to adore the perfect highlighting on your cheek bones that makes you look young and sultry, even if the truth is that – without it – you look a little tired and dull. You’re not small minded because you sometimes spend hours with your girlfriends only talking about beauty products. It’s okay to follow Victoria Secret on Instagram because you swoon over those perfect bodies.

We hear so much about fat shaming and going “makeup-less”. And I’m glad we’re discouraging people who put others down, and I’m glad we don’t have to wear makeup every day – but did anyone ever say that we did? Is a Photoshopped image really a message to women saying “This is how you must look to be acceptable”? I must have missed the advertising campaign with the perfectly airbrushed model that says “Maybe it’s Maybelline. Maybe you have to look like this or you’re worthless.” Sometimes I sense some beauty shaming going on too.

I like makeup. I like the way I look when I wear makeup. I don’t like the way I look when I don’t wear it. I still don’t hate myself. I’m just not a fan of blotchy skin, big pores, wrinkles, and zits – please introduce me to someone who is. Sometimes I check my lip gloss in the reflection of a spoon. It doesn’t mean I’m not successful and intelligent and witty and also 100% confident that I radiate beauty inside and out.

So let’s stop putting the media on this pedestal as if they have the ability to make or break women. An airbrushed photo can’t tell us how we MUST look, but maybe it’s just supposed to make us think, “Hey, I’d like to try to replicate that look tomorrow – that would be fun,” after which we go on being self-assured women who change the world with our pure genius.

Your friend who sometimes wears makeup to the gym and then comes home and eats ice cream,


Amanda Hinski is the “Chief Storyteller” (a.k.a. Associate Director of Communications) for a year-round camp in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Former paid blogger, copywriter, teacher, dance instructor and environmental educator, Amanda’s varied background is thanks to her free spirit and passionate nature. Her next pursuits include completing her Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications, dusting off her suitcase and getting back to contributing to her travel blog and continuing to be an avid reader and admirer of Hello Giggles. Follow her on Twitter @AmandaHinski.

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