Last week, Dana Suchow of the fashion blog Do The Hot Pants shared with her readers that she’d used Photoshop in the past to alter some of her self portraits. She posted a slew of unretouched photos, pointing out where she’d previously shaved a few inches off her stomach or brightened her skin. She wrote:
“In my ongoing mission to lift the veil that is currently suffocating us women, I realized that I, Hotpants, haven’t been entirely truthful with you…because I want to be as transparent with you as possible, I’ve decided to expose the instances where I used photoshop to distort and change my body. I know it might only look like an inch or 2 removed from my waist, or a couple zits blurred here and there, but my stomach and my skin have been huge insecurities for me my entire life. So me revealing these images to you are a HUGE DEAL 4 ME & not to be taken lightly. I’m putting my flaws out there, as little or as big as they seem, so please respect that this isn’t easy for anyone.”
Suchow has long promoted a body positive attitude on her site and spoken out against the pressure to be perfect. We’ve all occasionally felt that urge to work a little magic on a picture with iPhoto’s retouch button before posting it online, so I can’t imagine how intense it must feel for someone with a huge following like Suchow to upload a picture of herself that she feels insecure about for thousands of readers to see. Suchow hasn’t used Photoshop on her images in about a year, and doesn’t seem to plan to do so in the future, but she wanted to come clean about the past before moving forward.
Suchow also made an important point when she told She Knows, “Just remember, Photoshop isn’t the enemy. It’s an amazing program that can make a cloudy day look sunny, it can bring out the greens and blues of a dress so they pop, and it can make a blurry photo look like it was taken with a steady hand.” In my mind, the word Photoshop sometimes comes to stand for every downside of the beauty industry, but it’s only a symptom of a much more widespread problem surrounding female body image. I think Suchow was really brave to share the truth, but I also think it’s a pretty sad reflection of the world that women feel they have no choice but to doctor their images in the first place, and that just admitting to having a normal-sized, “imperfect” body (which we all have) is considered revolutionary. She said that the major thing she’d like women to remember is:
“Don’t believe anything you see. If you can’t touch it, it’s not real. The only real thing that will support you through life is your body. And that’s something you can hold … right now.”