Want To Look “Perfect”? There’s An App For That

I recently discovered an app that is either the best thing ever invented or actually everything that is wrong with the world. It’s Perfect365, and IT BLEW MY MIND. I can never trust my eyes again.

By this point, we all know that the pictures in glossy magazines or on big name websites are all Photoshopped. Sometimes it’s done tastefully and they still look human, and sometimes it’s so gratuitous they end up missing a limb somewhere. But basically all mainstream images are retouched in some way, and in no way represent what “normal” looks like.

We all know this, but the internet still basically explodes anytime an untouched, potentially unflattering photo of a celebrity is leaked. We’re hungry for it. We want some proof that cellulite exists outside our own chubby asses and thighs, that wrinkles and bags under the eyes don’t discriminate. Because so much of what we see of celebrities and models is unattainable, and can have a very real impact on how people (and women in particular) feel about themselves.

I accept this, and I am constantly working to accept myself without comparison to these perfect images. As is. With my rogue chin hairs, under-eye circles, and pesky zits that didn’t get the memo that WE’RE IN OUR THIRTIES NOW, YOU CAN CHILL THE FUCK OUT.

I arm myself with the knowledge that I could look just like Scarlett Johansson or Kate Upton with the proper Photoshop expert (shut up, don’t take that away from me). I carry the knowledge that ScarJo and Kate don’t even look like the versions I see of them.

But I don’t think I had fully processed the idea that every person I follow on Instagram or see on Facebook has the tools to basically Fairy Godmother the shit out of themselves and transform into a perfectly complected, wrinkle-free, bright-eyed version of themselves. TRUST NO ONE.

Want proof? You got it.

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I posted this first picture on Facebook to show how crazy the difference was, and to make sure people were aware that this existed. I mean, I could just be living under a rock, I’m never totally sure.

In the caption I wrote that I like the original picture of myself and felt good about it, but after transforming into a wax figure version of myself, I actually kind of got sucked into liking the “perfect” version. And my friends and family (who are basically the best people in the world) jumped to reassure me I looked great in the original and that they actually preferred it.

Thanks guys. 🙂 Mission accomplished – I feel pretty and loved. But don’t worry – I wasn’t actually having a personal appearance crisis. Is that a thing? A beauty meltdown? Whatever. No, I like my face. My eyes look just like my grandmother’s. I have my mom’s smile. I have good hair. I have the best eyebrow waxer in the world. I look just fine.

I wasn’t posting the picture comparison to fish for compliments (I mean, I’ll take em, sure). No, I think this instant and easy access to “perfect” was just a little alarming to me and I needed to share.

On the one hand, I freaking love it. I can easily “fix” little issues that pop up on my face and enhance things in my pictures to make sure I look like the best version of myself. But on the other hand it’s a slippery slope, right? Where do you stop? Where do you draw the line? I’d essentially be buying into the idea that “perfect” is even possible, and at that point how can I be trusted to control myself (not my best strength to begin with)?

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I am all for looking your best, and doing whatever makes you feel good. Whether it’s a full face of makeup, a string bikini, bright blue hair, whatever. Rock what you got. But turning yourself into a wax version of yourself complete with “enhanced smile” and skin so smooth you can’t even see the outline of your nose (seriously, it’s kind of missing in this picture) is going down a rabbit hole I think I want to avoid.

It’s like plucking your own eyebrows for the first time when you’re 15. Just a little at first, no big deal. But then a little more… and then you need to even it out. And then you need to make the other side match because that one looks just perfect…. and then you realize you’ve plucked half your eyebrow off and you can’t just “undo” that. You would have been better off not doing anything at all.

I can’t promise I won’t ever use this devil-app, because let’s be real – it’s kind of amazing. And if I have a big event and a gnarly zit that’s ruining my whole look I’m probably going to smooth that out in pictures. Nothing wrong with a little retouching, and if this app makes that easier, sweet.

But once I start smoothing everything and softening all my lines, and even MAKING MY EYES BIGGER, it gets a little out of hand. So I think I need to lay off using this as a regular photo editing app. Because I won’t be able to stop… I’ll just keep plucking, keep searching for that “perfect” that doesn’t exist. And while wax-doll Courtney is OK, she’s a little creepy.

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I’m Not Perfect… And That’s OK

I’m not perfect, and I have to come to terms with that. Weird statement, right? Who would be so egotistical to think that perfection was even an attainable option? And what would “perfection” look like anyway? I don’t think I’m anywhere close to perfect. And for some reason, my own flaws are really difficult for me to accept, especially when it comes to appearance. Bananas, right? A woman with self-esteem issues tied to her appearance?? I’m a trailblazer.

Seriously though, I have definite hang-ups about my appearance and I’m working on them. Most of the time, I can accept and generally love the person I am but it rears its ugly head at strange times. Like when my boyfriend wants to shoot our Christmas card in a rush and we won’t have time to take enough shots to make sure I’m comfortable with the angles (angles… never underestimate the power of angles and lighting in photos) so I have a mini meltdown just thinking about it. Or when we’re late for an appointment, but I have to scramble to throw on makeup because I’m broken out and wildly uncomfortable with a truly naked face.

Why does it matter so much to me? Who I am so worried about impressing? We all know true confidence comes from within, but damn, it sure is nice to get a little outside validation from time to time, amiright? I’m lucky enough to be with a person who loves me unconditionally, and who truly believes I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, inside and out. AND he verbalizes it. Daily. I mean, come on. This is the shit of fairy tales.

As embarrassed as I am to admit it, I think being with someone who is so effusive about my beauty is helping me feel better about myself. I wish I could say I feel confident in who I am and how I look all the time, all on my own, but that’s just not the case. And that’s OK. Being with Gil has basically given me a bar to strive towards: I want to feel as good about myself as he seems to feel about me. I want to embrace the beauty he sees, and see myself through his eyes.

I was feeling particularly vulnerable yesterday as I was struggling with a massive breakout, and there is only so much that makeup can really do. So I threw on a bright lipstick and a big scarf and made my way to the office. That night, I crawled into bed exhausted from the day, and stuffed up from some kind of sinus issue and felt, well, disgusting. I finally wiped away all the makeup I had on for the day, and was completely exposed. Face full of zits. And as Gil laid down next to me and looked into my face after I’d just blown my nose in a towel (don’t judge me), all he could see was beauty. He told me (like he does every night) how beautiful I am and how much he loves me.

I know I’m bordering on disgusting and sappy right now, but I have a point, I promise. In that moment, I had a burst of confidence in my beauty, however you choose to define that word. I spent the whole day at work checking my makeup and trying to camouflage the things I was self-conscious about, wondering if I looked OK. And then in that moment laying in bed, with not a stitch of makeup on and all my flaws completely exposed, I reveled in that feeling… the feeling of being beautiful and loved.

So I documented it. And now I’m sharing it here. Naked. Vulnerable. Not perfect. But feeling happy with my life, my relationship, and the woman I am. If that’s not beauty, I don’t know what is.

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I Look Like A Clown Hooker

“Hold on, your eyebrow smeared and it’s on your cheek.”

Um, WHAT??? I never thought I would hear someone utter those words to me, but it happened and now I need to talk about it. Allow me to elaborate.

You see, I decided a few weeks ago I needed to branch out and really try some new things so I could turn one of my hobbies into something I could actually do some freelance work with. My own business – nothing fancy, just something on the side that I was in control of, and that could be a creative outlet for me. The idea of a tax break wasn’t unappealing either.

So I started doing my research and found a program to learn how to be a makeup artist. PERFECT. I love makeup. I’ve always done it for my friends and this would be a fun excuse to actually learn what the hell I was doing. And in my mind, this would be a perfect freelance gig I could try out with no pressure since I’m not quitting my day job.

I found a one-day workshop that got great reviews online, and they offered a “basic certification” after completion, as well as the ability to apply for a pro card – meaning I get discounts on makeup. SCORE. Sign me up.

Sunday was the day. A friend I’d met at work a few years ago got wind of this little adventure and decided to join me. Bright and early, we made our way to the class. Dress code: all black. Excitement level: high.

It started out fine, if a little unorganized. They held the workshop in a hair salon on the days it was closed, and 20 or so wannabe makeup artists, including myself, piled inside. Most of the girls were professional cosmetologists looking to expand their skill set to include makeup, but a handful of us were just doing it “for fun”.

As I watched the owner and professional makeup artist go through her demo, I started to develop some concerns. Because about halfway through the demo, she got to eyebrows. I agreed with her statement about how important eyebrows are, and how they frame the face. She even made a comment about wanting to avoid “chola eyebrows” that look like they were just drawn onto the face. Forgetting for a second that she may have offended a number of people in class, I happen to personally prefer a more natural looking brow as well (I over-plucked in high school and I’m still recovering).

She goes on to explain that they have REVOLUTIONIZED a new technique, and it’s one we are all going to master in this class. Apparently, eyebrows that angle down at the ends at all (so, basically almost everyone) make people look “sad” and is apparently an epidemic we need to address. So as we broke off into pairs to practice different techniques, I kid you not, these were the instructions:

Ignore the natural brow where it angles down. It’s only distracting you from where the true brow should be. Pretend your client has no eyebrows and you are going to create the perfect eyebrow. Longer, and higher than where the hair is.

Hmmm. Weird. I bet you’re thinking what I’m thinking… wouldn’t you have 2 eyebrows on each side then? Basically an eyebrow that forks in the road and goes both ways? YES. YOU DO. YOU HAVE TWO FUCKING EYEBROWS ON EACH SIDE. And guess what??? That look we were trying to avoid? The one where it looks like a 5 year old drew on your eyebrow with a sharpie? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS. When you decide to create a whole new eyebrow where there is no hair, what do you expect?

I was working with an adorable little blond massage therapist with perfect skin – one of the other people in the class just taking it for fun. As the instructor comes over to paint on her dark brows, she looks at me in horror. I point out that the color is too dark and that you can still clearly see her actual eyebrow hair under the heavy line, and the instructor promptly informs me we can “hide” that, and a lot of people just shave off the ends of their brows so you can do this shape properly. Oh, of course. YOU SHAVE IT OFF. I see. Now the massage therapist looks really nervous.

“Can we trim your eyebrow, just a little?” the instructor asks her. She agrees. I decide she’s insane. I wouldn’t let that woman near me with scissors. She “trims” them all right… basically down the skin. After she walks away, my partner looks at me in dismay, groaning about how the instructor just “stole” her whole eyebrow, and how ridiculous she looks. The instructor circles back, one of her minions in tow to show off her beautiful work. I can’t help myself at this point. “She hates it. She wouldn’t go in public like that. That may work for an editorial shoot with models, but it’s not an everyday look. No normal person wants to wear a look like that for everyday life.” The death stare of an angry makeup artist (who does in fact, shave her eyebrows so she can “create any shape she wants”) sears into my very soul. “Well, I WOULD wear that look every day,” she snaps at me, and stomps away on her 5 inch heels. Huh, guess I won’t be winning any teacher’s pet points.

Now, I don’t know if it was punishment for mouthing off, but when the other instructor came back to “help” do my eyebrows, it was a sight to behold. Same double rainbow effect, but this time, THEY ADDED GLUE. “Oh, we just layer on glue and then paint over it with concealer to hide the hairs,” she tells me. I’m laughing so hard inside at this point, I figure why not? It was basically the same glue that was in our 3rd grade glue sticks, all over my face. As she finishes her masterpiece, her hand grazes my “new” eyebrow and it winds up on my cheek.

OK, timeout. If my eyebrow can smear onto my fucking cheek, that is not a good look. I grabbed the handheld mirror at my station to take a peek. Bad idea. I looked like a clown hooker after a rough night. Not OK. And as she finishes wiping my eyebrow OFF MY CHEEK, my workshop partner is standing behind her, eyes wide, mouthing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry” over and over. I think she might need therapy now.

As they finished taking our individual “after” pictures and started getting ready for a group shot, my friend who had tagged along and I looked at each other and just decided to get the hell out of there. It look me a minute to register what she was thinking though… at that point, everyone in class looked permanently surprised. We made our way to the door, but not before I got cornered by one of the instructors. “Don’t you just love how you look?” she asks me. I know I should have lied and been polite – it would be easier. But I just couldn’t. “Well, no. I mean, the work my partner did is great and I like the eye shadow, but I would never draw on eyebrows like this. I just wouldn’t wear them like this in public.” Awkward silence. I turned and walked away and we made our way out of the salon and back to my car.

I looked in my rear-view mirror as soon as we got in the car and just lost it. I needed to get that shit off my face, ASAP. As I reached for my bag I realized I left my makeup remover wipes in class. SHIT. I can’t go home like this and I’m sure as hell not walking back into that salon. I found an old paper towel, probably from that day last week I ate a bagel in the car on the way to work, and wiped off as much as I could.

If you don’t believe me, I have photographic evidence:

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Now, who wants me to do their eyebrows??