I can still hear the words “don’t worry, we will retouch you” stuck in my head. That time I was the victim but back then I didn’t realize that I was also the perpetuator. You see, working in the fashion industry those words are thrown in more than “thank you” or “please”, trust me, but I didn’t understand the impact of that 5-word phrase until now.
“WE WILL RETOUCH YOU” just like that, like there is something inherently wrong with your figure, you face, your skin, the bag under your eyes, your cellulite or the fact that you are not Gisele, period. I know there’s been a lot of talk about the work that goes on behind the scenes when curating a beautiful magazine, an amazing cover or the most gorgeous picture advertising the ultimate self-tanner, but then again, I can speak to you from both ends. At the time or times when someone said to me (not that I’ve been on millions of photo-shoots, but there were definitely some…),
“its ok, we will make you look perfect”
as I tried to hide my belly or uncomfortably fidgeted with my clothes, it felt like I could loosen up, like if my hips looked wider or chunkier than I would preferred to, it wouldn’t matter, it honestly felt like music to my ears. Ok I said, I can make the world think that I’m tinier, that my teeth are whiter, that I don’t have freckles all over my body, that my legs have cero bruises or that I don’t have “kankles” (a very offensive way to express the lack of silhouette in your ankles), not taking in account that most of the people that where going to see those pictures knew me personally in the first place.
Then I had to change in real life, I’m not a fraud I would think to myself I want to take a picture with an outfit without having the urge to fix it, because of course the Photoshop became Facetune, filters became diets and well, you know the rest. I wanted to implement change in the mag, be diverse, have tips for different body types, feature someone different on the cover, empower other women, but at the end everything “needed to be perfect.” At some extent, there was a part of me that felt uncomfortable when I was the one saying, “maybe we should just move this or a little there and there”, but I would comfort myself thinking that this was what the audience wanted to see, that this aspirational world would inspire other women to get the best out of their selves as well.
But boy I was wrong, at least for my own self. First of all, because I didn’t believe that for me, at the time I believed that other women looked beautiful despite their physical attributes, but it didn’t apply to me (what made me so damn special!?). Because even back then knowing that almost every single picture that went on magazines had a certain level of edition, even back then knowing that I was not the only one using these tools, even back then knowing that perfection didn’t exist, even back then I wanted to edit myself. Edit the words that came out of my mouth, edit the hatred towards my incredibly imperfect body, edit my broken soul that had been “damaged” for so long. But the fact is that I want to edit this world.
I know I want to see change in this industry, I want little girls to be interested in being scientists rather than thinking how “different” they are, I want young women, older women and men to feel good about themselves. I know that I don’t have the power to change it all. (Because the Giseles, Karlies and Gigis will still exist, and I’m a miniscule part of this industry) But at least I have this to say, I no longer alter my image when uploading an IG pic and I no longer feel the urge to edit myself, and if this helps at least one other woman, then: mission accomplished. (As I sashay out of this post).
Patricia Robalino Jewelry