Recently I met someone for the first time that I had got to know through Facebook and when we were actually sat face to face over lunch I was quite startled at how different she looked from her glossy social media presence. Now this probably sounds like I’m being a bit mean but I have to say that I actually preferred the real unfiltered version with the faint laughter lines, the smudged lipstick and the slightly crooked teeth. The unfiltered version shouted to me…I’m real!! I’m a person!! I don’t really have bunny ears.
We live in a society that’s obsessed with filters. We are force fed images in magazines of perfect creatures with prefect skin and airbrushed curves. Is it any wonder that we are breeding a generation of emotional vulnerable teenagers who fear that anything removed from perfection is unacceptable. We can turn ourselves into cute animals or superheroes at the press of a button, smooth out our skin and whiten our teeth on our iPhone and then delete our images if we aren’t “liked” enough. Its a vicious circle of validation, negativity and loathing as we constantly seek the positive affirmations that we feel will lead to our mental nirvana but actually land us sweating profusely in hell. Why is being real not good enough?
Step away from social media and the devil that calls itself airbrushing, our brains do a pretty good job of filtering out the nasties anyway. A good old filter can not only be applied to a photo but to people and life itself. This past weekend I found myself almost inconsolable over the death of Prince Phillip. I met him years ago and we had exchanged a few words and he seemed a pleasant enough chap and as story after story came out over the weekend of his life of duty and service I conveniently filtered out all of the negative press that I had heard about him over the years. I stand by the fact that he was an exemplary consort to our Queen but was he perfect? He was a human being after all so probably not.
When my parents died a few years ago I listened to the eulogy and thought that they perhaps should be canonised. Yes I recognised all of what was said but that wasn’t the whole unfiltered picture. Even in death we apply a glossy spin to remind ourselves that only perfection is acceptable. They were really good and kind people but again, they had faults…they made mistakes. Don’t we all?
At The Power of You we encourage people to embrace their imperfections and to avoid the comparison trap. Isn’t life more about the moment than frantically ironing out any wrinkles that we gain along the way? I am always reminded of the scene from Shirley Valentine where she tries to cover up her stretch marks on a romantic boat trip with Tom Conti. “Don’t hide these lines” he says, “These lines show you have lived”. She bats him away but as corny as it sounds its absolutely true. Real people get wrinkles…its called ageing. The grim reaper is going to start getting confused if we start turning up all smooth skinned and glowing!
As we step out of lockdown into real life we will be leaving behind the protection of our zoom filters and ring lights and standing face to face with reality. Why not embrace it. Our lumps and bumps and lines and wrinkles are unique to us. They show that we have lived, that we have survived. These imperfections are what make us unique masterpieces.
So my advice is to ditch the filters. Let people see you in a light that isn’t designed to flatter but one that shows you as you are – an individual.
And as for my eulogy… when the day comes I would like to be remembered as I am. Perfectly imperfect in every way.