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.

Featured Image via Shutterstock

  • Stephanie ‘Bones’ Bryant

    No. Just no.

  • Heather Evans-Channell

    This does not take into account the impressionable minds of young girls who do not have the insight, wisdom, and experience to separate what is realistic and what is not. Girls whose insecurities, fueled by air-brushed media images, lead to self-harming behaviors. Air-brushed photographs are NOT ok and contribute to serious societal problems- anorexia, bulimia, low-self esteem, etc. They may not be harmful to a well-adjusted, adult woman but please consider the impact on our youth,

  • Melissa Lamb

    You might want to have a read of a blog like Beauty Redefined. They explain the detrimental effects of things like photoshopping pretty effectively.
    “Studies like this prove that profit-driven media is working exactly as it is intended to work. Beauty, cosmetic surgery, weight loss, fashion and media industries make billions by sparking and feeding into anxieties in women about their bodies. It’s the classic “grass is always greener” idea – white women need to be darker through tanning and dark women need to be lighter by any means necessary. As long as they can keep women dissatisfied with themselves, they can keep selling us the products and solutions to fix our flaws!”

  • Zoe Siegel

    The problem isn’t that we believe we’re being told we must look a certain way… it’s that we’re being told others actually DO look this way. Sure, with things like the Dove campaign, it’s far more obvious now how much is photoshopped, but younger, impressionable girls still believe that models in magazines don’t have pores, imperfections, and the like.

  • Caitlin Hayns

    Sorry, I just have to say that wearing make up to the gym is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of. You’re just clogging your pores up with sweat,make up and dirt for no reason! Your skin would be much healthier if you didn’t wear any while exercising, and you might find yourself with far less blotchy skin, big pores, wrinkles, and zits.

  • Emily Elaine

    I agree with what you’re saying about makeup, because if it’s fun and makes you feel more confident, there’s no reason not to wear it. But photoshop on magazines is seriously not okay because you’re lucky to have the self-esteem you have. Not everyone is that way. Like the other comments said, you need to think about our youth and the precedents it sets. So I understand what you’re saying, but you’re not really taking the long-term effects of things into account. Anyone can apply makeup and enjoy it, but no one can photoshop themselves in real life. It’s a problem.

  • Megan Martin

    This is a side comment that really doesn’t have to do with the whole argument, I mean it could depending on how you take it. But you mentioned the Dove body commercials. Funny enough they are same company that owns Axe. So on one commercial it’s geared towards women about loving your body and the one geared towards guys is wear this and flawless women will come out of the woodwork and fall in love.
    Just food for thought.
    I really liked the articular. I wish I didn’t feel like I have to defend myself when I put on make up just to hang out with the guys. It makes me feel good. I don’t have to, I want to. And isn’t that what life is about?

  • Cindy Miller

    This is my life! When did wanting to look good become such a terrible thing??

  • Bec Cushway

    People should never ever be ashamed of wearing make-up because it’s what they want or need to feel confident and their best self. People that feel uncomfortable in make up or just think that they can rock the world without it should never ever be ashamed of not wearing it. People can do whatever the hell they want to feel like their best self and no one can say a single damn thing about it.

  • Amanda Melissa Aldous

    I see what you are saying and while I agree with you to a point, the problem is not every girl still developing and woman in the world exposed to those images is as well-adjusted or able to look objectively at the images. Instead they are taken to heart, consciously or not, and it can be detrimental to self-esteem or to development. Someone mentioned the beauty redefined blog, which is a great resource.
    I’m with you though, if wearing makeup makes you feel better, more confident, that’s great. If it makes you feel uncomfortable or awkward, that’s okay no need to wear it. You can love your body and it’s power and still want to improve it, but I hope that you want to be stronger or fit into clothes that make you comfortable instead of just wanted to melt the love handles away.

    • Kara Jay

      Honestly your response is the best out of the ones I’ve read.
      You were completely respectful and you made your point while being kind and articulate. You did not attack her or her opinion.
      So thank you for expressing yourself in a classy, dignified way.

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