What are your expectations for yourself?

Yesterday I was reading this blog about photo retouching. It started me thinking about how much magazines and how they influence our expectations of our own bodies.

I am a magazine junkie. I love reading short articles about whatever. When I travel, People Magazine is my guilty pleasure of choice. I wonder though, how the images that I see in the magazine influence the way that I see my own body, and how I feel about it.

Are the expectations that I have about the way my body looks realistic?

It’s easy to see how one could get caught up in "perfection". Take a look at some examples of photo retouching to see the areas that are modified.

What do you think when you look at those pictures? Do you think, "she is so gorgeous, I’ll never be successful because I don’t look like that"; or "what a beautiful woman, I wish my girlfriend looked that good"; or "she’s so tall and thin, if I don’t eat dinner and exercise a lot more, I’ll look like that, too"?

The subjects in each of the examples are beautiful women, but even they can’t live up to the standards that have been put on them.

So, if the model herself doesn’t look like her own image in a magazine, why would I expect that I should be able meet that standard?

What percentage of photographs that you see in magazines are retouched? Would you guess 50%? 75%? This article states that "One hundred percent of fashion photos are retouched." Even People Magazine retouches their photos & uses camera tricks to make celebrities appear more attractive. Why?

This Newsweek article discusses a new phenomenon where parents are having their children’s school pictures retouched. Yes, I’d like to destroy some of my awkward, gawky moments captured from my childhood/teen years, but if my parents had re-touched them, I think that I would have received the message that I’m not good enough. But I digress…

I don’t think that we can stop retouching in magazines any more than we can stop 10 subscription cards from being stuffed in them. However, being aware that the images we see on those pages aren’t realistic is a step in the right direction. Instead of saying "I’ll never look like that." Say, "I’ll never look like that because that isn’t realistic."