We are all aware of the mass deception behind images in advertisements and media with the use of airbrushing, photoshopping, digital alteration, etc. And while many are outraged at this deceit and manipulation of distorted, “perfected”, and some one’s strange version of idealized images that are feeding disorders and damaging self-worth values, there seems to be a trickle down effect that is now being carried out by the hands of consumers themselves.
Given the advances in technology, one has to wonder if this is a) the effect of manipulated conditioning to join in the self-deception and devaluing of all that is naturally beautiful and perfectly imperfect, b) the product of our acceptance and odd love/hate relationship with it and ourselves, or c) both.
While I recognize these advancements as tools for freedom of expression and creativity, there are some pitfalls to this accessible means of “filtering” and “editing” that unknowingly is mirroring the deceptive hands of big media and the pained parts of ourselves crying out for love.
Some may argue that we are being force-fed the ability to do as advertising firms and corporations do, so as to perhaps lessen the focus on their role in these harmful practices, since now it is easy for you too, to manipulate your own self-image, as you would like to project it. While others may cringe at the strange twist of fate that has us now responding to the law of demand they have created us to desire with the illusions and manipulation, so that we can mimic the same deceptions, without the middle man, and do it to ourselves.
Have we become so conditioned into accepting these “idealizations” and rejecting our beautifully “natural” and “real” authenticity that we now would do this? Think about it.
What am I getting at you ask? Well, simply that fact that the public is now widely adopting the similar practices because of the ease of attainable technologies that are being created in response to a twisted demand. What people feel to be a serious and unhealthy abomination affecting the psyche of young and mature women and men alike, across the globe, is now strangely being implemented on a daily basis to imitate the very thing we feel is damaging to us, albeit, in the name of creativity.
I’ve been contemplating this over the last few months, discussed my observations with a few close to me, and shared how incredulous this is. But the reality is, it has become a reality and I felt a nudge to voice it because I find it to be potentially damaging to all of the invested personal work being implemented in terms of self-love and embrace of your authentic personal frequency and true, luminous beauty that you’ve been doing. And it seems so harmless since it comes under the guise of creative expression, which makes it even more threatening.
I see images that people post and I hear comments from many people about the kinds of photos they post of themselves. Like anything I share, it’s never a blanket statement of everyone, but because it is such a big and growing group, I feel there is something important to take away from the observations and perhaps this may spur an inner dialogue with anyone who reads it. Maybe it reveals some of the ways we might be counter-productively buying in to this mass acceptance of devaluing or false projections, and how it not only may be damaging to yourself, but anyone who you are reflecting to, if in fact being used to hide behind, as opposed to creating “art”, which it is thought to be there for.
What I’m talking about is things like the digital filters, especially in social networking platforms like Instagram and built in apps to other social media like Facebook, as well as through our cell phones, which alter the photos we take. Not only do we have Adobe Photoshop where every kind of manipulation can be made, but now we have at-your-finger’s-reach-ability to manipulate instantly and easily.
Instagram advertises: “Take a picture or video, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram — it’s that easy….It’s a new way to see the world.”
But at what cost are we “seeing the world” if we are false projecting to each other?
This sounds a bit like popping a pill to erase your memory and thinking/feeling capacity – think “Blue Pill” (blissful ignorance of illusion) in the Matrix.
There’s a whole lot of value in widening our perceptions and seeing from different perspectives, but if the new way to see the world is by taking something that feels not so good, and falsifying it through an alteration to temporarily relieve us and gain outside appreciation that we are craving from ourselves, within, then this world we’re “seeing” isn’t the kind I personally would like to have as my new reality.
Now, I know this may seem like I’m reaching or that it is borderline creativity vs. deceptive illusions. But I’m not knocking the artistic abilities that are simultaneously being offered to many to create interesting imagery that at one time was only available to an artist with the gift to paint or draw, to a photographer who had different lens attachments we don’t have, or to someone who could afford pricey programs to digitally create things.
The fact that anyone can now create “art” and play with creativity is great, but is it worth it to entertain in the ways that some are, and what are the hidden downfalls to watch out for if you do?
What I’m hitting on is the ways it is damaging to how we view ourselves and how that may affect our ability to function from a whole state of well-being, along with the collective message we are empowering through acceptance of this practice. Everything starts out small, but has the potential to escalate from there if it isn’t recognized for what it is and reined in early.
I have heard many people say they won’t take a photo of themselves “unless it is through an Instagram filter” or “thank goodness for Instagram because it’s the only thing that makes me look good”. Referring to hiding this, that, or the other imperfection.
Really? What happened to not liking how magazines manipulate how people look? Why are we now becoming the very thing we felt was damaging and an absurd and fabricated lie of false advertising?
It used to be that a woman might not leave the house without her makeup on. Now, it’s a matter of not sharing a photo without your filter on.
Now, I know it’s not that people are creating longer limbs, chiseling waistlines, enlarging, decreasing, adding where there isn’t, etc., with these applications, but the filters are in fact being used to “hide” things in some way or another, or make us into what we feel is a more attractive image that feels better to project.
I also know that cameras can be unforgiving and put on extra pounds where there aren’t, or that some people simply don’t translate on camera the same as in person. This has always been something people were aware of and made adjustments for. (Not necessarily making it a thing we should accept as an ok practice to avoid because it’s always been that way, as it is our judgments against self that has increasingly become the culprit) But it seems to me that little by little we are being given the tools to not just shift this way to feel better, or completely refuse the photo, but instead can manipulate and alter to appease our egos. And the thing is, it isn’t stopping there, as editing through many different platforms is increasingly taking place whether through photo-altering programs (like Adobe Photoshop), when there’s more time available, or even editing our words we share in all social media platforms, so that nothing is raw, real, or in the moment.
Filters have become the “quick-fix”.
Everything is devised into an “ideal” way we want to be perceived based on what we think about how others will think of us.
And beyond the filters, haven’t we all heard, and said ourselves, “this is my good side”, “only take a photo of me at this angle when I’m sitting or standing between people, or from above to make me look tall and thin”. We have become our own judges and magazine editors to not only tear ourselves down, but to hide behind illusionary filters, rather than “see, feel, and be” the raw truth of our nature without worrying what others think.
I have worked with many photographers in the past when I was modeling and have seen some of them manipulate my photos in ways I didn’t like, taking away my beauty mark on my chin if they saw fit, or airbrushing away at the skin to take away any natural indications of a life well-lived through lines, the sun’s kiss on the skin, or natural pores.
Back in the day I didn’t have a say in what they did to some of my photos, but now I do, and if I were to have a professional photo shoot (especially after I’ve really explored the meaning and implications of all of this), I’ll be sure to exercise it, as well as would seek out a photographer who is more of a “soul essence” photographer rather than handy at Photoshop.
But for the most part, I find that photos taken by amateur photographers, which can be a friend, partner, or family member, and sometimes even yourself, can just as much capture your naturally beautiful essence, if “you” are in your naturally beautiful essence.
I don’t know about you, but I rather prefer that when you see/meet me in person, the same person shows up that you are seeing in the photo.
As an artist, I believe wholeheartedly in art and creativity and there is a time and place for that and conveying a certain quality to the imagery projected (ie. creative quality as fun and art vs. purposeful illusory alterations of what is meant to be a natural image to perpetrate something it isn’t). So it does depend on the context it is being used. But when we are specifically manipulating the natural beauty of people or even nature, in a real-time photo, to make it fit a better looking ideal to receive acceptance and praise for, does that make it art? Or, is that deceptive and harmful in more ways than is realized in the moment when we are fixated on this altered image?
Some may say that it is helpful in visualizing the ideal you, to see yourself in these manipulated versions. My only answer to that, are questions.
Are you visualizing this particular “ideal” because you were conditioned to and as a response to not yet repatterning yourself into self-love? Is it truly a natural version of you if you were in your vibration of authentically balanced well-being, so hence is a projected vision you are naturally manifesting?
I think the key is to understand who you are as an individual and what is naturally within the personal, vibrational framework of your creation that will result from a healthy embrace of life, expressive sharing, and integrated healing. For instance, I believe we each have a “natural” weight that we would be if we were in balance, love, and joy of ourselves and the expression of who we are. It will likely not be what you “think” that ideal is and nor can it be compared to someone else, as we are each unique. Nothing about us will be the same.
Aren’t we always regurgitating the importance of loving ourselves exactly as we are? Well….again, another opportunity to walk the walk. And yes, I know this comes with a lot of conscious commitment and work to move through the pains and misunderstandings of the past, but it is possible.
I wrote a post that looks a bit further into this, so you can read more about self value here: True or False? I Am Perfect Just As I Am
The main point of THIS post is to share a perspective to individually explore in how we may or may not be hindering the very values we are working toward embodying, as well as to help us be more mindful of the practices we are engaging in and accepting, in terms of how they relate to the bigger picture.
Technology can be used in synergy with nature if we wisely utilize it as such. But unfortunately, I am seeing a lot of technological advances getting out of hand and driving us farther away from our relationship WITH nature, rather than bringing us to a better understanding and the productive partnership it could be. Not all advances are healthy advances. And manipulations whether of food, nature’s cycles, ecosystems, DNA, information, or even images, are definitely on the radar for making the hair on the back your neck stand up.
Idealizing specific images, genetics, physical traits, or anything unrealistically natural or celebratory of diversity, is not only personally harmful to each, but creates the potential for major segregation, mass judgments, and worse.
This has the ability to alter our perceptions of what is healthy, beautiful, natural, and attainable. Why is it that we are accepting media’s representation of abnormal ideals into our daily lives, even if that is in what we think are harmless and fun ways?
Is it really harmless? Or is it yet another way of deceiving ourselves and setting us up for bigger and more harmful deceptions down the road?
For what it’s worth, I felt guided to share this and as always, you can do with it as feels aligned with your own heart, as we all have free will.
It’s a harsh enough reality that we hear of so much depression, disorders, plastic surgery, and medications to suppress the associated feelings, but there are the damages of deaths also taking their toll, and unhealthy relationships all stemming from things like acceptance of these “industry standards” that we are now, little by little, in trickling ways, accepting into the mainstream of life. Companies are making tons of money off of the insecurities being created.
Self-empowerment and love is freedom.
As mentioned, image manipulation can be done for artistic reasons, but are also being unfortunately used as deceitful tools or harmful false projections. People are easily swayed by photos, as vision is a powerful stimulus to belief. We’ve all heard people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” So when that visual cortex of the brain is triggered to process information seen, it creates a responsive acceptance, unless you have other ways of filtering your beliefs and behaviors.
Image manipulation transforms images to convey what you want, instead of offering what the original image is. If creating art with a specific purpose, this may be appropriate, but if just sharing yourself with friends and family, wouldn’t it make more sense to have it be real?
So the next time you choose the photo to represent you and contemplate the filter to convey it, it may be interesting to listen closely to the inner dialogue going on while doing so. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a photo that shows you at your “natural” best, conveys the essence of feeling or quality you desire to share, or really highlights your special and unique features and characteristics.
However, if you find yourself caught up in damaging self-dialogue and deeply fixated on “altering” your images to “hide” a beautiful reality of you that others would likely find reflective and comforting of their own unique and natural beauty, then maybe there’s something to what I’m sharing.
The more we each can take courageous steps to share our vulnerability a little more each day, the more we help others to do the same.
I see these filters to be much more than a creative tool. I see them also being symbolic of a way of filtering and numbing out what we don’t want to see, hear, feel, and experience, which is a form of self-denial. Like anything that has productive and nonproductive qualities, this makes them a tricky, yet useful tool for learning and growth. I’ve come to see the filters as equating to the illusions and veils we would like to see erased so that we can see clearly and stand in our power.
However, the way that happens is to remove the filters.
If not being consciously monitored, I see these filters as a potential hindrance that could symbolize our keeping blinders on and numbing us to the raw, refreshing, renewing, and freeing reality we so desire. And I don’t feel that it will stop at just this, unless we connect the dots and make the conscious connections with everything in our lives we are engaged in.
I see the filters hiding our natural beauty and falsifying our relationship to self, others, and to the nature of reality, and Nature, itself. They’ve taken photoshopping to the instant-editing platform of social media and it won’t stop there.
So keep your senses about you and your heart full of self-love.
What drives the choices you are making? Are you faking your way through life, hiding, or embellishing in order to feel alive and connected, when in fact you don’t? Or are you living and loving out loud, who you really are?
These are likely things you have come to know as being so vital and important to embrace within yourself – the source from which the rest of your life will reflect – and yet they are the very things that present the most challenge and can undermine all of the positive work you have invested into changes you desire, when they are not exercised and nurtured within.
The way you value yourself can show up in many different forms that are not always blatantly obvious. That can be the times you settle for something less than what you desire – be it a job, relationship, friendship, or even verbal/emotional abuse. It can even be depriving yourself of an experience you don’t feel deserving of, censoring yourself out of fear of judgment, wanting to please everyone else, or wanting to fit in to some social or cultural obligation, not allowing yourself to experience happiness in the moment when something wonderful happens, working yourself hard without giving yourself time to do something you love, not honoring, being grateful for, and rewarding yourself for every step you’ve implemented, and of course when you are looking in the mirror and allowing something beyond your true worth and beauty to speak to you in a way that makes you feel unattractive, not good enough, embarrassed, ashamed, or worse.
It also shows up when your food choices are riddled with and driven by guilt and the never-to-be-satisfied drive to look like some ideal others have created to be of worth, rather than authentically chosen from a vibrational reflection of your body. And yes, it even is there when you obsess with guilt over having to make up for eating some fun foods with forced, stringent bouts of strict eating, juicing and cleansing obsessively (rather than in natural flow with your body’s rhythms), over-exercising, and even using spiritual practices in the form of an ego “sentence” ruled down upon you to make up for doing something you think is “not” spiritual.
Even the things that can actually be healthy balances in our lives can become obsessions of an ideal, fabricated from within the doctrines of its origin, as being deemed “the way” otherwise you aren’t on “the path”.
And which path might that be, is what I would ask?
These and more, are ways in which we undermine ourselves, forget our value and the importance of loving ourselves unconditionally, just as the Universe loves each of us. They are ways we avoid hearing the authentic messages within our very being and body and instead place the power outside of ourselves when we listen to untruths.
Something becomes true for you only because you give it power. It becomes your reality because you choose it. That doesn’t mean it is “the way” or “the truth” or the “ultimate reality”. It merely means that’s where you’ve temporarily decided to invest your decision making process for what you are choosing to learn in the moment. And at any moment you can choose to invest in yourself, instead, and actualize a new reality that is authentic to you and brings you great inner and outer harmony.
And all of this pertains to both men and women, equally.
We have learned to see not from our own heart’s vision, but through a filtered lens fabricated from conditioned societal patterns that are being driven from fear of self-love. Much of the images, advice, and protocols to take, make it appear that if we really loved ourselves we would do this and that, which creates a vicious pattern of chasing after the very thing they say is the reason you are doing them for. When in actuality, if you come to truly understand your worth and love yourself for the authentic beauty of who you really are right now, you would realize the false distortions these stories are telling you. You’d recognize how you are perfect in your imperfection. You’d recognize that you don’t have to prove something to anyone else. You need only to be true to you.
Hard to imagine, right? with everything bombarding you otherwise, but it is the truth.
It reminds me of a “house of mirrors” that you experiences at fairs, carnivals, and amusement parks. These mirrors present distorted reflections that can be either humorous or frightening. In this case, the information we’ve been conditioned to believe is a fabricated mirror like these that present a distortion, which feeds off of our level of self worth, or lack of. If you have a low level of value and love for self, the false distortions we see and are told, take hold and start to become the frightening reality you believe in. If you have a high level of self love, value, and confidence, then you find the humor in the distortion reflected and mirror back the real reflection, which shatters the source from which the fabrication came.
In fiction, battles sometimes take place within a hall of mirrors because this is a great way to symbolically show the trickery potential of a villain. In this case the villain is merely a shadow aspect trying to get our attention and help us to evolve into the empowered, loving essence of who we really are. It’s really not a devised plan to deliberately hurt you, although it does when we choose to give power to that story. It is a way we have created to get our attention via different messaging triggers to realize our wholeness and step back into it.
I often see, even within the spiritual, new age, and healthy living realms, these idealized versions of a particular body type and life style that are being marketed as the ideal to live up to. I see the same obsessions with looks, weight, surgical body alterations, hard-core exercise to push the body to the extremes, and even comparisons of yogic abilities, the right clothes and image, what your life should look like and where and how you should live, and can sense and hear even the jealousy over spiritual abilities you feel you need to attain to be like others, etc.
It’s the same kind of mass-marketing media projections, just under a spiritual guise of the need to turn back the hands of time and be these sculpted lives and bodies that reflect your so-called spiritual achievements.
No, you don’t have to be a certain weight, have flawless skin, no traces of cellulite, be muscularly chiseled, have a flat tummy, no wrinkles or white hair, be able to bend backwards, take only one deep breath per minute, live on juices alone, be a fluid psychic, channeler, or have some huge mystical experience, or speak and feel “bliss” every other word and every second of your day, nor do you have to become proficient in everything, have a certain type of “job”, or move to some exotic location and live by a new set of spiritual rules that don’t align with who you are.
You CAN have these things and may even be led to them or manifest them at some point, but they aren’t pre-requisites to your being on a spiritually enlightened path, nor something you need to “attain” in order to feel worthy. As long as they are natural extensions of your personal frequency match, then they just may naturally happen for you simply from relaxing into loving and flowing with the heart of who you are and emanating that through everything you do consistently and with every being you encounter.
However, none of these make you any less than or greater than. They have attached definitions creating their “ideal” nature by some people, but the Universe has no judgment, attachment, or final destination for you to arrive at. All there is is the now moment for you to unconditionally love every single part of you and your experience, which will provide the real benefits and lasting fulfillment these other false achievements seem to promise.
And, by the way, you were born worthy. Worthy of the abundant being that you are to have an over-flow of wholeness in your experience.
Now, more than ever, is time to relax into the nature of you, as we are globally responding to a call to “return to natural harmony” and that means both within and without. You can’t expect to honor the natural cycles and flow that are inherent in Earth’s experience, if you don’t honor the same for yourself.
And yet, while I share this, I know this is not so easy to always practice in your life. But I do promise, it gets easier, the more you release the judgments and self-punishing ways you defeat your true power. I know that the stories can feel so real at the time you are experiencing them, but they really mask and take you away from committing to the love of you.
Obsessing over things is a diversion where we invest time and energy into feeling bad over something or punishing ourselves for not being enlightened, for example, because we have a pimple that day. So you then disempower yourself by looking at what you did wrong to create the thing you’re focusing on as a problem, rather than relaxing into continuing to hold your light and strength, knowing that everything is just a cycle of your transformation, shifts, processes, and is perfect. That one thing does not define you unless you give it permission to. But nor is there a “problem” with it either.
And guess what? When you do focus on it and find fault with it, then others will mirror that too. But when you feel beyond it and relax into the experience that “just is”, you will find that nothing in your experience changes, and likely will increasingly be beautiful and helpful to others, because you stood in your reflection of self love and acceptance.
There are many reasons why we adopt habits opposite to our true nature, which include childhood conditioning and past life experiences, but the bottom line is, we do not have to continue to feed the ways in which we sacrifice ourselves for instant gratification. If you want your children and the children of the world to love themselves, then you need to be an example of that for them. This doesn’t just extend to the dialogue you choose to speak to them with, but the dialogue they hear (both literally and subliminally) that you are speaking to yourself through your actions.
We are constantly bombarded by advertisements for everything under the sun projecting an idealized version pushed as “the way”, products to aid physical appearance and to achieve impossible body-stereotypes and over-blown lifestyles, and negative thought patterns about the satisfaction of belonging and joining in with others doing the same. It’s no wonder there are challenges of stress, anxiety, and some degree of self esteem issues as a result.
Even the focus of negativity and violence in news, movies, and attacks from one group on another, and sometimes even within a group all play on the insecurities and fears within, adding to a lowered sense of inner strength and weakened solidity in your centeredness.
Are you striving towards a particular devised end point, or are you living in the now point where all is in divine perfection?
Scientifically, it’s been shown that all emotions create chemical responses in the body and these convert into matter. Dr. Masaru Emoto also demonstrated this when observing crystal structures of water and how they react to thoughts and words creating balance or chaos in response to the “alkalinity” or “acidity” of their source. So what you feel about yourself will have an effect on your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual well-being. When this is depleted, you are susceptible to things in your environment, as well as are capable of fighting a battle AGAINST yourself, rather than joining in harmonious co-partnership WITH yourself.
When you think of these statements below, what do they bring up for you?
I love myself unconditionally just the way I am right now
I am perfect just as I am
There is nothing more I need to do in order to be deserving of my love and love from others
I feel safe to be exactly who my heart naturally desires to be
I deserve to be happy and balanced
I deserve love
I see everything and everyone with loving eyes
My life is a beautiful reflection of who I am
If any of these things feel uncomfortable or even impossible to say without some kind of cringe, heaviness, tightness, sickening, or painful emotional reaction, then you can start to understand the source of things you’ve been challenged with. It’s not something to get down on yourself for or to berate and judge yourself about when you find a hidden gem such as a core belief because, until now, you likely hadn’t been taught or shown how to feel anything differently, nor been supported with how to shift this, and in some cases may not have made the connection of what you’re experiencing being connected to how you felt about yourself.
While affirmations have been the go-to quick fix for this, it is only a part of the story, as it never addresses the core issues of how to integrate the old foundation before you try to layer it over with a temporary new structure. Collapse at some point the new will, because it never really addressed the foundation it was built on. So there will be a process, which doesn’t have to be drawn out, to rebuild from the ground up in order to have all of the years of judgmental conditions become realized messengers directing you back to you.
But back to specific ways your level of self love and worth can manifest. One such way that has come up on my radar to touch upon is a very debilitating experience called “body dysmorphic disorder”, which stems from self-worth and distorted body perceptions being weighed against societal stereotype ideals.
About 1 – 2% of the population experiences the severe form of this disorder with a larger percentage showing milder symptoms of the disorder (equally in both men and women).
I watched a documentary on this many years back that I still very clearly remember. It really demonstrated how deep this can go and truly is heart-breaking to witness. But this “distorted” way of viewing things about yourself can also take on offshoots of less severity, which can be very subtle and seem hidden to you as a normal part of your daily repertoire. And then can be more associated to things like obsessions and compulsions of OCD, or even social anxiety, eating, and depressive disorders. Some of these are avoidance techniques our ego provides us with to take us on a course away from responsibility and committed action, which would come from empowering and embodying our Higher Self potentials.
To shed some light on this, body dysmorphic disorder is a type of chronic mental illness that fixates you on thinking about a flaw, or flaws, in your appearance. This absorbs your focus and some people can end up spending their entire day, when it is severe, thinking about the flaw and trying to find ways to “fix” it. The flaw can be something minor that is overblown, or can be imagined since a distortion takes place in how the person views themselves – kind of like the hall of mirrors I shared about earlier – and this can stem from many core emotional reasons from life experiences, including something someone may have said that they couldn’t shake and stuck with them, something they heard or saw their parents say to each other or themselves, from media, from watching peers, from a chemical imbalance (certain biological and environmental factors may contribute including genetic predisposition, and neurobiological factors such as serotonin malfunctions in the brain), from a childhood or past life experience, etc….And it can become so challenging and even shameful and embarrassing to the person that they will not want to leave the house, or want to be seen by anyone, or spend hours getting ready in a way that helps them to hide their flaws so they can have some bit of temporary relief.
It becomes a very intense obsession about body image that reflects a decreased sense of self value, unembraced, and can cause a huge amount of distress that impacts fuctionability in day-to-day life. This, in turn, can create even more damage to the person’s physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Some people that suffer from this experience may also become pre-occupied with cosmetic procedures, excessively exercise, or purchase every new product on the market to try to “fix” the problem, but will never find satisfaction because the root of their experience has not been addressed.
I’m not a doctor, so not only do I not diagnose, but I also do not prescribe any certain protocol treatments. That’s between each person and the experts sought out for support, to find and tailor something that aligns with individual needs, on a person-to-person basis.
What I will say, however, is that many of us at some point or another have or have had something we don’t like about our appearance, or about ourselves in general, whether small or large, temporary or permanent, and these may have caused you pain or distress in another way, which still comes down to our ability to learn how to love ourselves all over again, the way our soul innately knows as truth.
Whether you experience subtle or poignant reflections in your life from a sense of lowered self esteem and self worth – and this can manifest also as the kinds of, as well as lack or abundance of, opportunities, experiences, and intents you are trying to create in your life – the bottom line is that at some point, if you want a different experience than what you have, you will need to choose to see yourself, embrace yourself, support and nurture yourself, cherish yourself, relax into yourself, and love yourself just as the Universe does – unconditionally and unequivocally.