I NEVER PHOTOSHOP OR EDIT MY WORK TO ALTER BODIES OR FACES
Nor will I ever grant a model/client permission to photoshop / facetune / filter or otherwise edit my work (our art) to alter their body or face.
It breaks my heart how frequently I receive messages from clients saying something along the lines of:
"Can I just photoshop [*insert body part*] to look [*insert forced beauty standard*] ?”
My answer is and forever will be "No."
IN THE REAL LETTER THAT FOLLOWS, I EXPLAIN EXACTLY WHY THAT IS
May it provide clarity on why I uphold this part of my
policy philosophy so fiercely. May it allow you to think and feel (even just a fraction) deeper the next time you post to your grid, scroll down your feed, or tap through stories. May it open space in your heart for the acceptance and appreciation of your own beautifully-HUMANLY-flawed self. Lastly, may your authentic sharing spark the authentic sharing of anyone that comes across your post(s).
without further adieu
Hello darling! Just wanted to say your photos took my breath away! You are insanely talented and you captured one of the best experiences I’ve ever had so beautifully.
Also, I wanted to know your thoughts/policy on something… the photo you took of me in the hotsprings is so beautiful, I haven’t seen myself so happy.
I am still a little self conscious about my stomach (working and healing that part of me but it’s a process) I’d like to tweak my stomach before posting but I am also aware it’s your art and also I should love all of my lumps and bumps…. So I’m in two minds still but I wanted to run it past you.
Thank you again!
Death to the photoshopped versions of ourselves that force us to compare and compete with a false reflection.
THE OPEN LOVE LETTER:
Thank you for your love. I feel it.
Oh hunny, you DO look beautiful, free and full of joy. I am sorry that you are hurting. I know how you feel. And whether they choose to recognize it or not, I think that every woman (man and human) knows how you feel. I honor you for speaking your truth, asking me for input, and for starting your self-love journey. It takes courage to put yourself in front of the camera. I am proud of you.
I wish that this was the first time someone has voiced this to me but the frequency is heartbreaking and a brutal mirror of the world. To start I will leave it at this…
As a photographer and artist my answer to editing your image is no.
More importantly, AS A FRIEND AND FELLOW WOMAN my answer to photoshopping/altering your body is HELL NO.
Though it may seem minor to blur a scar, slim an arm, or flatten a belly fold…ANY altering of your body in a photograph (by me or yourself) is an act of harm.
Harm to YOUR body and self worth. Harm to the body and self worth of ANYONE that looks at that photo and perceives it as reality.
Likewise, choosing to share yourself AS YOU ARE is the greatest act of unconditional love. Love for your body as she is. Love for the woman in the photograph that is full of joy; so present while squinting through wild hotspring mist, that she could care less about how her ab muscles are or aren’t flexed.
Death to the photoshopped versions of ourselves that force us to compare and compete with a false reflection and scare women into hating their bodies. Death to the filters that shift the bone structure of our faces and inject digital botox into our lips.
You are a woman living in a world that profits from comparison.
The women before you, not yet having the self awareness, that shared augmented photographs masked as “natural” have brought you here.
Don’t feed the machine that has poisoned you into thinking that your natural body is not beautiful.
BE THE PERMISSION SOMEONE NEEDS IN ORDER TO SHOW THEMSELF AS. THEY. ARE.
You are worthy of being raw. Your body and spirit are worthy of being seen. You, wild woman, have the courage and power to model what self love, self compassion and self worth look like.
I encourage you to leave that portrait unaltered and post it as it is. Not because of my policy, f*ck my policy. But because the negative thoughts that led you here to ask for my permission DO NOT DESERVE THE POWER THAT THEY HOLD.
Finally, I want you to know that in typing this letter to you I am also speaking to myself, my body and my worth. So thank you for bringing it out of me.
I believe in you & I cannot wait to see this portrait come up on my feed!
Cynthia B. Parker