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)?

courtney

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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The Perfect Vacation… And Other Lies Facebook Told Me

I haven’t posted in awhile… I really need to get better about that. To be fair, a big part of the reason is because I just returned from a 16 day trip to Europe with Gil. I know, rough life right? We spent the holidays in Paris, Venice, Florence and Rome. And it was just as beautiful as you would imagine it to be.

And I can confidently say I had a wonderful time with the man I love and it was an experience I will never forget. AND I had the best New Year’s celebration of my life, on a boat in Venice watching an incredible fireworks show and drinking champagne with my honey… it was like something out of a sappy romance novel.

BUT (and this is a big BUT) it was not the picture perfect European getaway I had been imagining. It was hard work! And we stayed in nice hotels and flew with an upgrade to “Premium Economy” (totally worth it by the way) and STILL there were more trials and tribulations than I imagined a dream vacation like this would have.

So while our friends and family got to drool over the pictures I posted to social media, they really only paint half of the picture. The GOOD half, obvs.

trip collageWe have all read about the Facebook effect right? This weird phenomenon of comparing your seemingly drab, complicated, messy, unorganized life to the picture perfect moments of people you went to elementary school with who now have the perfect life, and flawlessly documented new vacation/baby/house/wedding and make you feel like you’re somehow lacking in comparison. Because whether we admit it or not, we are all guilty of trying to put our best foot forward on social media, and with that automatically comes a bit of manipulation of the truth. Not a lie exactly… but maybe a lie of omission in some cases.

Normally I read about this exercise in the context of parenthood: a gorgeous professional picture of the entire family smiling… while everyone was actually screaming at each other between shots and the toddler was eating boogers in all but two frames. The snow filled photos with carefully selected Instagram filter of the little ones sledding for the first time… when really it took five hours in traffic to get there, they fought with each other the whole trip,  and they spent a grand total of 15 minutes in the snow before they complained so vehemently about being cold and wet that you could LITERALLY feel hairs on your head turning gray.

I AM TOTALLY GUILTY OF THIS. I just perpetrated this crime of social media for almost 3 weeks straight. Obviously not with children – I leave that parenting shit to you masochists. No, I essentially Photoshopped my vacation. Not REALLY – I didn’t actually physically manipulate the pictures themselves, but I definitely smoothed over the rough edges so the finished product was shiny and beautiful and ready for consumption.

Don’t get me wrong, I DID have the trip of a lifetime with the man I love. It was thrilling, beautiful, exhilarating, exciting, romantic, and delicious. And if you look at the pictures I posted you would glean exactly that.

What you WOULDN’T see are my teary eyes from that stupid argument we had in front of the Eiffel Tower about retaking a picture because I felt so self-conscious about how fat I looked, which is why I’m wearing his sunglasses in some of the pictures. Those pictures of the Louvre are drool worthy, but you don’t see the three hour line we waited in because we didn’t think to buy a museum pass ahead of time and how by the time we got in I could barely walk (I am still recovering from extensive ankle surgery) and so I spent most of my time there looking for benches instead of admiring art. The Colosseum is awe-inspiring, but you can’t see how sick I am at that point, or how exhausted we both are which led to us snapping at each other for no good reason.

Yes, we shared those stories with a handful of friends and family when we got home, but to a casual observer I got the perfect European vacation with my perfectly bearded lumberjack of a boyfriend. Truth? 16 days of travelling together is when shit gets real. Eleven hour flights. Questionable cab rides. Gross underestimation of how much money you’d be spending on food (some of which was totally mediocre). A swollen and throbbing ankle. Long lines. Short tempers. Obnoxious tourists. Meltdowns. MY PERIOD, a week early.

It happens. Of course it does. Life is messy and chaotic and tragic and bloody sometimes. And I would definitely use each of those adjectives to describe moments in our trip. The real triumph? The one you don’t see in any of the pictures? The fact that those were merely MOMENTS. The fact that we tackled them together instead of tearing each other down further even though it would have been so easy to do – to take out our frustration with a stressful situation on the one we love the most.

The best parts of the trip? The way we sat on a bench overlooking the canal in Venice snuggled up together watching the sun on the water. How tight he held me on the boat when we were watching fireworks on New Year’s. Feeling him reach for my hand halfway through an eleven hour flight when he was somewhere between asleep and awake. The way he helped me with my suitcase on the train in Florence even though he warned me not to over-pack because I would be responsible for my own bags. Spoiler alert: I over-packed.

These are the moments I didn’t document but they’re some of the most vivid memories. And honestly, I wouldn’t change any of them, good or bad. Well, that’s a lie too. I would totally wish for a healthy ankle so I wouldn’t have been in a walking cast for most of the trip. And maybe I would have eaten even more cheese. Yeah, definitely more cheese.

But I wouldn’t trade the experience. Now we KNOW the things we would do differently (I think 10 days is probably our max). And now whenever I see someone posting pictures from their own “perfect” vacation, I always wonder what those “real” moments actually look like. Those would make a much more interesting photo album…