• arielprag

are we made well?

Until an embarrassingly recent time I edited my pictures into oblivion. I never used Facetune, but I worked around that. Most pictures - especially ones I didn't take - had something to "fix," something that would apparently make me unworthy.

Open photo, find something to hate.

Open editing app.


Shrink chin

Erase acne

Soften skin

Remove eyebags

Enlarge eyes

Lower hairline

Change angle

Change lighting

Change smile

Change me.

Change me.

I felt like such a hypocrite. How could I alter the way I look with editing while preaching self-love? I was scared if I didn't mitigate certain features, that people wouldn't care about me or what I have to say. It was so bad that I didn't post a picture of me and two friends meeting Tarana Burke after she gave a talk at my university. That was so fucking stupid. Tarana Burke is incredible and would be sad to hear this. So I made the picture into the cover for this blog post.

Four female-presenting people of various heights in a large room. On the far left is a short pale Jewish girl with brown hair and a blue hoodie. Second from the left is activist/writer Tarana Burke, a tall black woman with braids and a cream-colored turtleneck sweater. Second from the right is a tall young black woman with a striped multicolor scarf. On the far right of the picture is a tall, pale white woman with curly brown hair, her hand on her hip, and a black sweater.

Truthfully, I’m still scared. I worry that I’m making a fool out of myself for thinking I deserve to take up any space, let alone as much space as a Pretty Girl.

A concept that has shaken my view on that is body neutrality. I came across it on the I Weigh Instagram, which reposted from the Beyond Beautiful Book. Their post compares body positivity to body neutrality, pointing out that the former still mandates that we place our value as individuals in our appearances. While body positivity is a better state than self-hatred, the ultimate goal to liberate ourselves is ultimately body neutrality. We should not need to give ourselves value through subjective aesthetic appeal, whether from others or ourselves. Really, if we are to move away from capitalism, and in turn away from systems that value individuals based on subjective societal worth, then body neutrality is essential to creating inherent individual value. My beauty or lack thereof is irrelevant to my worth as a human.

I weigh surviving trauma, meaningful friendships, a loving relationship; I weigh afternoons doing political science research, and late nights practicing arias; I weigh baking successes and disasters with Jessenia; I weigh horrible jokes with Sammi and Lindsay; I weigh words of encouragement to strangers and sorority siblings; I weigh owning up to my mistakes and repairing harm I’ve done; I weigh my compassion and unwavering will to help others; I weigh every squeal made at the sight of a dog. My existential gravity is not my gravity/mass relationship (weight)!

My inherent worth is simply my existence.

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