Beware the Slippery Slope

I have imperfection on the mind. We could all benefit from opening our arms wide to the flaws, the crinkles and wrinkles, the messy, nubby bits of life that tempt us to smooth everything out so we can see our reflection in a shiny sheen.

My 12 year old daughter brought an order form home from school this week, sent out by the company that took her yearbook photo. I was horrified to see on this form a prominent ad offering retouching of our children’s photographs to ‘Save the Day!’

“This service reduces any blemishes and lines that might take away attention from how great you look! We can do braces too…”

Just to make sure we ‘get’ it – there are before and after shots. A teenager with some acne and then – hey presto – acne gone! A mouth with braces and then – abracadabra – no braces!

God forbid when my daughter looks back as an adult at her yearbook, she should remember she was a ‘normal’ pre teen. Apparently  it is far preferable that I PAY to ensure that she appears ‘perfect’. Glossed over. False.

It’s a slippery slope and one that we now seem to be dragging our children down. Grabbing their hands and pulling them head first into the pitiful pit of ‘you could look better’ / ‘we all need improvements.’ Where might this company draw the line? Would they suggest slimming hips, augmenting breasts, shaping noses to ‘save the day’?

I know I live in LA, but for once that is no excuse!

Sending this kind of a message to children is inexcusable, especially under the guise of offering a service to ‘enhance’ our kids’ appearance .

This is not a service. This is clearly a disservice. Most especially for young people who are struggling with self esteem, feeling self conscious, longing for a transformation. By providing them with the digital magic to ‘fix’ things – we are drastically letting them down. Surely the transformation needs to come from within? A gentle and affirming path to acceptance. A slow and curious climb up, rather than that slippery downhill run.

I think society’s quest for perfection is especially confounding for creative people, because it is at odds with the true nature of expression.

At the core of creativity lies imperfection. Cracks and dents. Bumps and bulges. The endless act of trying something out and then trying it again- not necessarily to arrive at an ‘immaculate’ final product – but to remain playful with the process. 

This tenant lies at the foundation of my workshops and drives my own creative ethos.

Like an adolescence wrestling with their identity – creativity needs time to evolve and grow and articulate. Embrace the braces! Don’t airbrush out all the blemishes. Explore them. They will tell you a far more soulful story.

Take ten minutes and write about ‘transformation’, creative or otherwise. Reflect on your own life experiences as well as intentions for the year ahead.

Are their ‘blemishes’ that you might benefit from exploring? Are you too quick to retouch the undesirable pieces of your puzzle?

Write in your notebook or journal, or share on the blog.

Thank you for being part of The Write To Be You community! I am extremely grateful…



One Response to “Beware the Slippery Slope”

  1. Joel
    December 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    We can look back on our spotty, tormented selves to remember the difficulties, the pain. To appreciate the person we have become. To recognize and track our own evolution as a person. To photoshop away the bad means we no longer have a point of reference. A justification. The thought of glossing over the past in any form is so contrary to growth. Often we hear phrases like: “we stand on the shoulders of our fore bearers and our mentors”. But most of the time, we stand on our own shoulders. Those of the younger us. What do we become when our younger selves are a cosmetic lie?

    I had a conversation today with a friend, where we realized how much we are not just the age we are. We comprise of every age in our life, complete with each fear and hope and opinion. We contain our newborn self. Our 4 year old self, our 15 year old. All there. Still each with a proportional vote in the congress of our head. They are all on the bus with us, as we hope the best existing version of ourselves drives it. The rest don’t even have a driving license.

    But all this is with the grand prize of hindsight. At the time, in our younger selves’ shoes, we would beg to remove every sign of weakness from an immortalizing school photo. It’s the 2012 version of cover up cream. Thick and smooth and perfect. Maybe it’s not so serious. Maybe the Yearbook of the future will just take its place in the smorgasbord of fantasy selves each new generation will cultivate. Something to giggle at and brush aside. Where will the real us live in the future? And more importantly, where will it live in the past?

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