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  • Writer's pictureCaterina Sullivan

I Accidentally Downloaded an Airbrush App - Lessons This Week

Happy New Year, everyone! The photo above was from my New Year's Eve celebrations at The Howling Moon in Canberra. I am incredibly excited to be welcoming in 2018, as you can clearly see. I have so many new projects starting this year, and I can't wait to share them all with you.

One of the new ideas I'm trying this year is a weekly reflection on what I have learnt over the preceding seven days as a young business woman. My experiences in my professional life and in my personal life provide me with so many amazing insights that I would love to share with other young people in order to provide them with opportunities to learn from my mistakes as well as my successes.

The first lesson I learnt this week comes more from the personal aspect of my life.

I accidentally downloaded an airbrush app.

Yeah, yeah, I know. There's probably a few of you rolling your eyes as you read this. But hang with me a second.

On New Year's Day, I went to Casuarina Sands Reserve, which is one of my all-time fave chill-out places in Canberra. If you follow me on social media, you've probably seen a couple of posts from the Sands before.

As I always do, after I went to the Sands, I went to upload pics to the 'gram (pictures on Instagram). I had a few I could upload and selected one in particular of me eating a strawberry (because the strawberry was amazingly delicious). A couple of days later, I went back through my photos and found another one to upload.

The next photo I chose to upload was one of me walking to the water. At first glance, I was totally happy with the photo. I was wearing my brand new pink swimsuit (and we all know how much I love pink) on the first day of the New Year. It brought back the feeling of pure joy, listening to music, eating fresh fruit and cookies I'd made the night before (just because I can't be too healthy on the first day of the New Year) and making plans for 2018.

In the middle of my reminiscing and before I had even realised it, I had gone to the app store on my phone and downloaded an airbrush app. I've never had software on my phone before to alter physical features in photos (ie airbrush, blemish remover, teeth whitener, etc.). I hardly ever wear make-up other than lipstick (I can count on one hand the number of days I applied mascara in 2017, no other make-up), I never use fake tan, and I've never in my life dyed my hair (except that one time in Year 7 I sprayed my hair blue for the day of our school sports carnival).

But there I was with an airbrush app on my phone. Before the download had even completed, I stopped and realised what I was in the middle of doing. I returned to the photo and only then was my brain drawn to the two lines on my back where my skin folded a little. Was that what I was upset about?

I took a minute to consider what I was doing. As the app passed the halfway point in its download progress, I resolved to delete it from my phone immediately. There was no need for it because I was totally content with how I looked.

Then the app totally finished downloading... and temptation got the better of me.

I opened the app and opened the photo. With a tool to blur the image slightly, I ran it across the two folds in my skin.

And I realised it changed nothing. It didn't make me feel better; it didn't make me feel worse; it didn't make me more confident about posting the photo; it didn't make me less confident about posting the photo. I felt an anti-climactical amount of nothing.

The whole ordeal got me thinking about a couple of things. #1: if changing how a photo looks doesn't affect me personally, why would I do it? Do others feel the same, and if so, why do they change their photos? And #2: has traditional media and social media really made such a big impact on my life that I could subconsciously do something so out of character for me?

I measure my value and my success based on the person I am, my achievements in my career, my contributions to society and how I treat others. I don't 'photoshop' those details in my life, so why would I photoshop how I look when I don't measure myself on my aesthetics? My only answer is the increasing amount of time I spend on Instagram (which is so hard for me to admit because I may or may not be a slight addict of the 'gram).

I see myself as a confident and capable person... but even with my amount of self-confidence, I'm still affected by the photoshopped posts of influencers in both traditional and social media. I'm not comfortable with these people and organisations having such a profound control on what I do in my day-to-day life. What makes me even more uncomfortable is how my children will feel in the future; how will social media and photoshop be impacting them and their view of themselves by the time they are in their pre-teen years?

Now, more than ever, we need people like Iskra Lawrence, like Taryn Brumfitt - amazingly strong women who are actively fighting the increasing burden of photoshopped models on and women's (and men's) self-esteem.

This photo doesn't mean my hours in the gym are going to be increased or be scaled back... but this photo DOES mean I love myself a little more. Not because of how it looks... but because altering the original made me feel nothing. I am totally content in myself, and I hope by sharing this 5 minute anecdote, you can love yourself a little more too because life is just wayyyyy too short for photoshop.


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