I tend to cruise the ‘top free apps’ in the App Store on my phone pretty regularly to see what new crap I can waste my time on, not to mention that there’s something about doing it that magically quells my innate need to shop, at least for the moment. One of the apps I downloaded during one such ‘shopping spree’ was something called ‘Perfect365’. As a person who has had to do my best to overcome my ridiculously strong tendency toward overachieving, it called my name, and boom went the download.
Click on that perfect face and the title page proclaims “Perfect 365 – the easiest way to make you look great!” and my inner angsty teenager shrinks into herself and thinks, “I KNEW I didn’t look great today. Shit. Maybe if I apply more Wet ‘n’ Wild lipgloss…” but I click on with an odd fascination. The idea of the app, I learn, is to choose a mostly-your-face photo from your album or take your own, open it with the app, and FIX IT. Because… well… clearly everyone’s face needs fixing. Like Demi Moore’s left hip, which clearly needed removing.
So I take a duckface selfie at the appropriate flattering angle and upload it to the program.
Hm. I guess I’m not perfect naturally. Shit. So next, up pops a whole range of makeup looks for me to choose from. Not so bad, right? A little makeup never hurt anyone. What do I want… ‘Natural’? ‘Pure’? ‘Dainty’? Or something a little more sexy, like ‘Cat Eyes’, ‘Smoky’, or ‘Fantasy’? As I gag a little on the names of these looks and the female stereotypes that accompany them and choose Ocean, with green eyeshadow, because, well why not, and move on to the next step. Skin. Hm. This is way more involved than I thought! I remove the dark circles under my eyes, my blemishes, ‘brighten’ my skin (make it whiter, which isn’t borderline racist at all for my deeper skinned ladies – why would anyone want to keep their skin tone as is, or heaven forbid, darken it?!), soften it (ah, yes, the soft focus of the old school Glamour Shots), and add blush and foundation. After having perfected my clearly imperfect 31 year old skin, it’s time to move on. Eyes. I add eyeliner, change the color of my eyes to purple (hello, Liz Taylor), thicken my lashes, add plenty of eyeshadow (I now realize you can do all of the makeup seperately or choose a premade ‘look’, silly me and goodbye Ocean!), ‘brighten’ my eyes (creepy), fill in my eyebrows, and enlarge my eyes. That’s right, enlarge them. I am beginning to resemble a creepy doll, but onwards and upwards we go to perfection! My mouth is next. I add pink lipstick, obvi, and ‘deepen’ my smile. I didn’t know the Joker was a look to strive for aesthetically, but okayyy, I suppose my pursed pout is now perfected. The ‘face’ is the last thing to go (although I thought we already did that?), so I select that menu, and my choices include the ability to ‘enhance’ my nose (i.e. make it weirdly shadowed so it looks thinner), lift my cheeks (this is a lot cheaper than surgery!), and slim my face. No gym today! Booyah! So THIS is what perfect looks like. Now I know. Now you ALL know. Gaze upon the face of perfection and learn, you jealous imperfect betches.
BOOM. Super perfect, and not at ALL terrifying!
But seriously, a lot of us (me included) bitch and moan about the media, about the evils of Photoshop and what it does to the psyche of those who think that people actually look like their photos do in/on magazines, or even those who know the photos are touched up. We rarely see ‘real’ photos, so the expectations on ourselves are there on some level, and I hard as I fight it, I do it too. But as evidenced by the photos above, I am also beyond normal levels of self respect and pride, am willing to love my ‘normal’ self unretouched (for the most part) and generally be weird on the internet for all to see. Honestly, I’m less worried about myself and those like me when it comes to this – I’m truly worried about those to whom this app is clearly being marketed. I picture myself at 17, but with Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and THIS godforsaken app. Why should I EVER post a picture of my actual face, when I can post retouched photos just like the magazines? No more zits! More makeup than my mom would EVER let me wear! All the boys will love me! *cringe* I would have eaten this shit UP. And I’m sure there could be a day where I would want to get rid of a zit even now, and then think “I could use some blush…” and zoom, down the road to ‘perfection’ I fly. I am sure women (and men) of all ages are tempted to chase online photo perfection with this and other apps like it, considering our own expectations of ourselves.
How do these girls do it? I have endless respect for the young ladies in today’s world, finding themselves surrounded by so much more… bullshit than I feel like I could have even imagined at that age, and trying to figure themselves out amongst all of it. I want to scoop all of my little sisters in the world up and put them on an island somewhere filled with supportive friends and creativity and education and just a little lipstick or mascara for fun. Tom and I are not, at this point in our lives, planning on children, but my beautiful brother (I say beautiful because he truly is a beautiful, gentle soul, although he wouldn’t let anyone know that at first glance beneath his shaved head-tattooed-mechanic-tough guy veneer) is in the process of possibly having a little one himself. And as much as I lack the ‘mommy’ gene, I think of a possible little mini-Todd-girl (or boy, but here’s hoping, haha) and I feel a fierce sense of wanting to keep all of these assholes away from that little girl. Cool Aunt Tara will take her for her first tattoo (yes, Grandma, when she’s old enough), go shopping with her and spend way too much, help her with her makeup and manis, and generally support her (hopefully offbeat like her Mom, Dad, and Aunt’s) choices. I know she will have to go through being a teenager, watch Miley Cyrus and Rhianna twerk, wear too much makeup, hate her thighs, and everything else we all go through. No can shield her from all of that, and I wouldn’t want to. It’s part of the human experience, unfortunately. I just want her to feel beautiful, worthy of everything she’s ever dreamed of, and more than anything, perfect. I will try my best to help her learn that perfect isn’t something to strive for or wear or to airbrush on, she was born that way, just the way she is. Screw the pursuit of perfect – that shit is ridiculous, little sisters. You already are.