Today we’re discussing the option of beauty retouching portraits with one of my clients Michelle.
She chose not to have her portraits beauty retouched, which I discuss in my methods and philosophies in last week’s blog post.
Michelle and I have talked at lengths about what it means to her. As we discussed last week, I believe that people should have a choice in how they want to be photographed. How they want the experience to feel for them and what they feel most comfortable with.
What are your views on retouching?
I see why people use it, and totally respect their decisions to do so. Different things work for different people and especially in a glamour shoot, I think people should choose whatever makes them feel good.
However, as a general practice, I feel it tends to propagate harmful stereotypes by setting an unrealistic beauty standard; it sets perfection as the norm/end goal. This results in an unhealthy cycle that we can break by opting out of beauty retouching where we feel comfortable in doing so. It’s important to see realistic faces and bodies elevated into spotlights and beautiful settings by our artists, photographers, and media.
As an artist do you feel you were taught to embrace and love the human body as it is? That is to say not “perfect”.
Figure drawing and studying nudes definitely helped me embrace my own squishiness where I have it. Curves are some of the most amazing things to draw and really lean into. What affected me more though was how tenderly some of the paintings I studied painted skin and fat. They painted it with a softness like you would a baby’s arm. Seeing images like that over and over, more than the images in magazines starts to have a really warming affect on how you see your own body. It helps shift the main concern to health, rather than “beauty,” because you see how beautiful health is.
How can people feel more comfortable in their own skin?
I don’t know. I think it’s a journey we all continually stumble along as our bodies and circumstances change. I can’t say that I’ve necessarily arrived anywhere, but here are some things that I have tried that seem to move me along in the right direction:
Study women’s sexuality (I suggest this for both genders); Read Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski; Pursue and maintain only relationships that make you feel good about yourself and your body; Unplug from media stereotypes and the Hollywood image, decide what beauty means to you, and surround yourself with images of that instead.