I was interning in the art department, and my job that day was to box up old, unused cover photos. I stumbled across a photo of Britney Spears; pre-umbrella breakdown, hit-me-baby-one-more-time-because-I'm-wearing-a-snake, Britney. She looked gorgeous: shoulder-length blonde hair, bright smile, killer body. But it wasn't the photo I was taken by, it was what was written on it.
Scrawled across the photo were large 'X's, body parts circled, Photoshop instructions written: "Shrink," "Enlarge", "Minimize."
On Britney Spears.
What I saw that day was a glimpse into the world of editing, into the world of impossible beauty and imperfection. Cover models--the ones you pin up on your wall as a 12-year-old, the ones you starve yourself for, cry yourself to sleep at night because you don't look like them--aren't as they appear. They're Photoshopped, morphed, stretched into thin ideals of beauty. Boobs enlarged, eyes moved farther apart, thighs thinned, necks stretched. Sometimes, they don't even recognize themselves.
I wish I could have taken those photos and plastered them throughout high school hallways for girls to see, with the headline: STOP HATING YOURSELVES. (Stop hating myself.) And if I didn't love my job so much, I probably would have. Because we spend our entire lives wishing we were something else. Something NOBODY is. And it may just turn out that we really are beautiful, just the way we are.