I Stopped Filtering My Photos And It Totally Boosted My Self-Esteem

We’re smack dab in the social media age, where uploading the best version of ourselves and our lives to the internet is an automatic reflex. Apps make it possible for us to present the most airbrushed, color-corrected versions of ourselves so that we too can look like the celebs that dominate our news feeds and televisions. I wasn’t immune, but after awhile I got sick of not being the real me, so I decided to stop filtering for good.

  1. The airbrushed version of me is hot but looks nothing like the real me.  To be honest, the airbrushed version of me is really hot. She’s got poreless skin, huge eyes, tiny bow lips and super white teeth… but she looks nothing like me in real life. In real life, I’ve got combination oily skin that I manage with product after product, a big-ish nose reminiscent of my mom’s side of the family, and coffee-stained teeth. I’m not ugly but I look nothing like the app-store version I created.
  2. I started to feel like I was catfishing people. I realized that people like potential employers and dates were looking me up online to see what I looked like before we met. They were seeing photos of this airbrushed version of me and they might be taken aback when they meet me in real life. I was worried that this discovery would impact how they perceived me. Would they see me as a fraud? As insecure? I was uncomfortable with the idea that this would impact my authenticity in my love and professional lives. There’s only one first impression and I want to make a good AND an honest one.
  3. I became addicted to getting the perfect photo. I became insufferable about it and pathetically, I would actually shame myself when I didn’t get the right filter. It would affect my mood and sometimes even ruin my day on occasion. Looking back, I can’t believe I let my obsession get to that point.
  4. I was spending way too much time filtering. Plus, I was spending way too much time filtering. I would spend up to 20 minutes at a time finding the best filters and colors to make my photo look better. It wasn’t worth it. Who has that kind of time? I could read an entire chapter of a book in 20 minutes. Filtering was eating away at the quality time I could have spent doing something else.
  5. Social media is a heavily-veiled reality—everything is curated. Social media allows you to present your best self, which is good and bad. It’s good because you can help drive people’s opinions of you and control your brand and image. There’s nothing wrong with trying to show the best version of you but on the flip side, it can be bad because it’s not always real. Everyone has flaws. In fact, I’d say that most of the time we want everything to look a lot better than it seems because we get validation from it. I was so busy curating my image that I didn’t even realize that I wasn’t honoring who I really am.
  6. Natural beauty is way underrated. Let me preface by saying that I love makeup and I love my made-up face as much as I love my natural one. But a filtered, “woke up like this” photo is still not actually natural. I had to get used to the fact that presenting myself as someone who just wakes up with no-bags and completely fresh-faced is completely factually inaccurate. It’s okay to wake up with bags and wild hair. I’m no less beautiful for it.
  7. A healthy body and clear skin is made through diet and exercise, not filters. Looking back, I realize that I was insecure about my skin and body so I was resorting to filters as short-term fixes to bigger problems. When I gave up filtering, I did my research and started to figure out how I could change my diet and exercise routine to help me achieve my body goals. It’s been a much better way to tackle my insecurities and I’ve become healthier as a result.
  8. I was trying to boost my self-esteem in the most toxic way possible. The attention I received as a result of my filtered pictures was so toxic. Someone would tell me that I looked amazing, that my eyes looked great, and my makeup flawless and I used those compliments to boost my self-esteem. The truth is that my self-esteem was founded on a false premise of myself and it was reinforced by comments about the airbrushed version of me, not what I really looked like.
  9. My self-esteem has never been better since I stopped filtering. Now when I get compliments about my skin, hair, or body, it makes me feel good because I feel like I’m presenting an authentic version of myself. Yes, I know my best angles and I totally make sure that I take pictures on the left side, not the right. Yes, I prefer a soft smile instead of all teeth. The point is that I’m not resorting to putting forth an entirely false and totally curated version of myself in order to feel good about myself. I’m just me, flaws and all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Marie is an ambitious millennial woman, leading a corporate life by day and doing her best to live, laugh and love.