Miss Jacqueline

What comes to mind in the arts, fashion, style, music, et al…

A TEACHABLE MOMENT

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This morning I spent a few minutes touching up a picture of myself on Photoshop. At first I did it just to crop and clean it up a little, and then I decided to have some fun with it. Nothing serious, really, just smoothing out a little here, brightening up a little there… What could be the harm in that?

Well, once I got started, it was hard to stop. It’s addicting, actually. Once I had whitened my teeth to epic proportions, and given that reflection in my eyes more of a dazzling sparkle, the results were impressive. Very Movie Star. In other words, pretty fake.

JacquelineinDolceGabbanaNTU

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the results (it was much cheaper and easier than an uncomfortable bleaching and an hour spent trapped in the dentist’s chair), but as I toggled back and forth between the “before and after” shots, what happened inside my brain was quite surprising. When looking at the original, wrinkles and all, I recoiled in horror. Remember, this was a photo that before the transformation process began, I actually liked. Now, however, it would never do. When I went back to the new and improved version, I had to shield my eyes from my overly white teeth gleaming back at me, looking oddly unnatural and as blinding as a solar flare! But then, the most amazing thing happened… My eyes began adjusting to the perfected me, and before I knew it, I was completely accustomed to my new look. I had let that genie out of the bottle and there was no stuffing it back in! So there it was… after having effectively brainwashed myself into thinking that’s how I now actually appear in real life, it simply began looking more normal and wonderful. Yay! Psych! The question is, was this imaginary improvement really creating a better me? I’ll admit, it looks better, but it’s still me. Same girl. In real life, my smile is not perfect, but it’s pretty great… At least I have things to smile about. That’s the most important thing after all. Still, is anything we do to “fix” ourselves ever really good enough anymore? Of course, but you have to know when to stop.

JacquelineinDolceGabbana

Then it occurred to me that I had an opportunity for a real “Teachable Moment.” I called my daughter into the room so I could give her a lesson on what I’ll call, “Real Mommy before Photoshop / Cover Model Mommy after Photoshop.” Her reaction was a cross between interested, laissez faire, and instructional, offering the following comments: “Cool, Mom, I know models in magazines don’t actually look like that in real life,” and, “Can I go now?” and, “It would look better if you smoothed under your eyes a little bit more. Here, I’ll do it for you.” It turns out my eleven-year-old is better at Photoshop than I am. She shrugged and smiled and went off to teach herself Japanese on Google Translate. She gets it, and I’m impressed. She will still be bombarded with the same impossible ideals we all are every day, but I hope she can also learn how to play with all of the wonderful tools we enjoy at our fingertips, have fun with them, and still love herself exactly as she is… So far so good…

Ah, kids these days. Perhaps they’re a little more savvy and dialed in than we give them credit for.

Gotta go. Back to editing… I’m on a roll…

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