How To Perfect Your Selfies Without Losing Your Soul
It’s possible that if we lived in a world without mirrors, we’d all be a little happier with ourselves. But that line of thinking is only so valuable because the world we live in comes with mirrors, Instagram, selfies, and Facetune.
It’s very easy to know exactly what you look like every single day, to compare yourself with who’s popular on social media at the minute, find yourself falling short of those standards, and take matters into your own hands. Even people we’d consider beautiful at their “woke up like this” edit their pics. Some even make a career out of it.
Despite all the claims that Instagram itself or the supposedly vain values of our day are at fault, it is wrong to lay the blame squarely at the foot of social media and selfies. The pursuit of beauty and self-alteration is not new, and the pressure to present your “best” self – or whatever might have been considered best at any given moment in history – isn’t new either.
You can go back through the decades and include waist trainers, jewelry, makeup, wigs, and high heels (for both men and women) as ways to alter your face and body in the pursuit of beauty.
Social media isn’t going away any time soon, nor is the ability and desire to make yourself look good by changing the way you look right now. Instead of fighting it, feeling guilty when you indulge in the odd edited selfie post on social media, it’s better to understand what you’re up against and go into it with your eyes wide open.
Yes, with the right mindset, it is possible to take a selfie without losing your soul, and even to edit your pics to look better without selling out. Let’s get into how, using examples from influencers, celebs as well as real life.
1. Consider selfie edits as ways to practice art – on your face.
If you think of tools like Facetune exclusively as ways to “touch up” your actual appearance, you’ll be left feeling like the way you look right now isn’t good enough. Obviously, that’s not a healthy way to use and view pictures of yourself.
Instead of using it just to “fix” yourself by covering blemishes, brightening eyes, and touching up hair, really give into your fantasies. What would you look like with a wildly different makeup look? Different eye color? Freckles? Smoothing flyaways? As long as you’re aware that this is a fantasy and not real life, you can really relax and view this as a fun exercise in art.
A great example of this is action is Nikkie Tutorials. She recently announced a partnership with Facetune, and she has a very solid and open relationship with her mental health, so she must be doing something right. Check out the way she upgrades her super cool makeup looks with the app. Makeup is fun! She obviously views it as art on her face that she uses photo editing to modify and change, which is a very neat way to look at it.
2. Balance edit and selfie time with reality time.
You’re allowed to want to look nice, as long as you remember that the “normal” you looks wonderful, too. If you spend all your time elevating your face and body to what you consider the next level, you run the risk of forgetting that you – and everyone else on the planet – looks wonderful without needing to smooth away normal and natural blemishes.
To make sure you don’t forget, force natural time so you can remember what’s real and what matters. There’s no issue with investing time in effort in your social posts’ post-production, or figuring out the perfect selfie pout, as long as you don’t start to think of that as the reality instead of the normal and wonderful you. Try to put limits on both your selfies and edits and spend time with the natural you.
I once had a client in my wellness coaching business who couldn’t go out unless she was fully made up – including going to the gym, doing her grocery shopping and even dentist’s appointments – because she’d been wearing a full face of makeup since middle school and was worried she’d be ugly without it. This use of makeup really interfered with her perception of herself.
To help, we figured out a way to scale back one step at a time. She picked up swimming, where you can’t wear makeup, she started using tinted moisturizer to replace foundation, and made small forays into the wider world with less and less makeup until she was comfortable both with and without.
3. In an imperfect world, don’t focus on only your flaws.
We live in a world with imperfections everywhere, but when it comes to editing our pictures, we often focus just on ourselves. We make our face perfect and our body ideal, but it’s rare we remember the imperfections all around us.
Instead of only focusing on how to make yourself better, use photo editing apps to fix not just yourself, but also the world around you.
You can learn to make a cloudy day blue, add or remove clouds, turn a muddy puddle into a stately lake, or even just remove an errant iPhone charger from your pic, as demonstrated by Molly Mae, YouTube and Instagram influencer.
4. Make sure time on the outside is balanced with time on the inside.
Selfies and selfie edits make it very tempting to just self-improve on the outside, which can make you feel like that’s all you have to offer that’s of value. But it’s definitely not.
Imagine if you spent exactly the same amount of time on social media as you did on literal self-improvement. What languages, skills, experiences might you have under your belt? We all have just 24 hours in a day, and whether it takes five minutes or an hour of your day to take and edit selfies, that’s time you can’t spend on anything else that will remind you of your value beyond appearances.
One of my clients grew absolutely obsessed with how he’d portray his life on social media. It severely affected his mental health and sense of self-worth, because all he was giving the world and all he worked on was external. To remedy this, he started timing himself. For every minute he was on social media or a photo app, he spent another minute on a valuable skill that had nothing to do with the way he looked, like baking.
It didn’t stop him from taking selfies, but it reminded him there’s a lot more on offer than just his looks.
5. Establish a consistent routine with your editing.
One of the issues with the use of editing apps is that there’s no real stopping point. It’s very easy to go down a rabbit hole of minimizing, increasing, touching up and smoothing if you don’t have a natural stopping point, which can both increase the amount of time you’re spending on the apps and also bend your sense of the real you.
If you check out the professionals who edit their pics, while some of them foray into exciting adventures with their apps, many of them have an established routine and stick to it. You can do the same, either just by finding your typical youtube routine, or adding a time limit to your selfies and edits.
For example, Gigi Gorgeous has been using Facetune for what counts as eons in the social media world (5 years). She’s got a very specific routine she uses for most of her selfies, and she doesn’t often deviate. She’s still doing it, and you can see she isn’t shy or embarrassed about the way she looks normally, either. She’s found a great balance.
6. Let yourself off the hook for not meeting unrealistic standards.
One of the biggest problems you can fall into with selfies is always editing yourself to the single idea of beauty in the current Western world – big eyes, small nose, pillowy lips, full brows. But go back just ten years and you’ll see things were different – thin brows, smaller lips, etc.
Go all the way to a different country and see that beauty doesn’t mean the same thing there either.
This is one of the loveliest things about social media, actually. There’s no passport needed to travel the world and get inspiration from influencers of all shapes, sizes, colors and nationalities. Learn to celebrate beauty not just from one perspective, but from multiple. This will help you recognize that beauty standards are flawed and mutable – and that you have beautiful characteristics too, edited or not, captured perfectly on social media or not.
As an example, check out Radhika Sanghani. She has got a hooked nose, and she’s still undeniably beautiful. She doesn’t shy away from taking selfies or using side profile pictures – she actually embraced it, and she is very obviously a lovely woman.
Indulging with selfies is not inherently evil.
Nor are the people who use them. The only problem is that they do make it easy to slip into some of our worst tendencies, like valuing ourselves purely on looks, or idolizing a single version of beauty.
But as long as you use them responsibly and with awareness of what you’re doing, it is possible to take a selfie without losing your soul in the process.
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