Not So Random Thoughts and Recipes

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Perfection Perceived . . .

Provocative photo with a bare bottom

This video was NOT produced as a Photoshop tutorial . . .
It's fairly cruel actually. I'm posting this video to abruptly illustrate our cultural obsession with perfection. I heard a famous professional photographer state that 99.9% of published images were Photo-shopped.

What is perfection anyway? 
Everyone seems to have a different perception of perfect. I remember being mercilessly teased as an adolecent about my full lips . . . even by family members. I recall looking in the mirror, pursing my lips together to see what I'd look like with thinner, normal lips. And then I began to see models with full lips in every fashion magazine on the racks. 

People used to make a point about how young I looked (a curse if you're under 25) and about my coltish body type (small breasts). 
I remember seeing a Playboy magazine layout of a girl whose body and looks were shockingly close to mine. She was my age (20) and looked 11. She wasn't beautiful, she was attractive but I thought no more than me. My boyfriend had her photo prominently displayed on our garage wall.

I do not own or use Photoshop but I have considered purchasing the software to further 'enhance' my photographs. 
My goal has been to develop my photography skills to a higher level and then decide if Photoshop is a tool I want to use.

I like truth. I like knowing that what I'm seeing is real, not made up. 
I'm sure that even back in the 70's the photos I was comparing myself to as a teenager and young adult were enhanced to some degree. I don't want to distort history. I don't want my daughter-in-law to be or my grandchildren to wonder if images of me are real. I'm considering putting a disclaimer into my photo albums saying something like: 

"These photos are only enhanced to remove shadows or at times, to brighten colors. The images are untouched, real, and true."

The only people on the planet who think I'm perfect just the way I am are my husband and my mom and that's just fine with me.
One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me was a simple, innocent question when I was about 19 years-old. She asked me, "If you could be like anyone, who would you want to be?" My mom loved movies and was amazing at identifying movie stars so my mind naturally went to actresses of the time. I answered, "Kathryn Ross, I think she's a natural beauty." My mom agreed. Then I asked my mom who she would chose to be like and she said, "I'd want to be like you . . . ",  I was stunned. After a few speechless moments I asked her, "why me?" I don't recall my mom's exact response but the gist of what she told me was that she liked who I was inside and out. She didn't say that I was "perfect" but the message was clear that she liked who I had become. If you knew my mom you would know that she doesn't say things like this casually. I was touched beyond words. I think I just told her, "thank you".

Not long after this conversation I was in a motorcycle accident.
A compound fracture left one of my legs 2" shorter and terribly disfigured with the very real possibility of amputation. I was released from the hospital in a cast up to my hip with about a 5" x 6" opening at the ankle. Several times a day my mom changed the dressing and resaturated the deep wound left in my leg with a liquid debridement to help restore vital health to the fragments of tissue that remained. Bone infection loomed large as a large portion of bone was still exposed. I was confined to bed with my casted leg elevated. Throughout this four month process I never once looked at the wound on my leg. When the cast was removed my mom was helping me shave my leg and that is when I first saw my disfigurement. It was far worse than I'd imagined. 

Beyond the physical rehabilitation, I had to mentally rehabilitate. 
At 19 years-old I was pretty focused on my looks and desirability. I was fearful that my new boyfriend would leave me now that I was defective. "It's the inside that really counts" is what my mom used to tell me and my sisters. Was it really? I did notice that no matter how attractive people were, if they were self-focused or weren't contributing to life in some way I had little desire to spend time in their presence.

Taking my health into my own hands I embarked on a rigorous weight training regimen. 
My focus was to strengthen my body and increase my weight which had dropped to 93 pounds on my 5'5" frame. I read books about people who overcame great physical and mental trauma. 'The Other Side of the Mountain' is one of the books (from my mom) that had me realize I was blessed to be alive and able to walk. Within a year I was not only walking but also running, bike riding and and water skiing. 

Through sheer determination, lots of love from family and devoted friends, and good nutrition, I healed. 
Because of the accident I was accelerated into a lifetime journey of health and wellness that I wasn't destined to follow before I was injured. Maybe not ever. 

I am grateful that I have the ability to walk and hike, and be as active as I choose.  
To keep my body in healthful condition I honor it with health-giving foods. I'm not perfect, but I am committed. If I falter and eat poorly, I regroup and recommit, sometimes I ask for support. I don't have a need to be Photoshop perfect, just perfectly committed to vibrant health. There is not a week that goes by that I don't learn something new about wellness and my body. 

I love this journey and I enjoy sharing information that I learn along the way.

Live and learn . . .


  1. Great article. I have known you half your life and you have always been beautiful (very beautiful) to me. I loved being around you (and your outspoken self .. LOL); you had this inner strength and I felt peaceful being in your presence. Keep writing and inspiring. I love you. xxx

    PS: Photoshop is VERY expensive and complex to learn. You might consider Photoshop Elements (under $50.00) and you will get just about everything you need as way of enhancement without the complexeties of the parent product. Edd has Photoshop and doesn't use 1/10 of what it offers. The Photoshop manuals are about 1100 pages. Just a thought.

  2. What a generous and loving response, what a gift! Thank you so much for leaving your supportive comments, it's nice to know you're here with me . . . we do go back a few years don't we . . .

    Thanks for the tip on PS. A photographer friend told me she doesn't use a slip of the tools PS offers. I'm always looking to simplify life not complicate it . . . I'll take your advice. xxoo