Never enough: growing up airbrushed


I recently found this headshot from when I was 16 years old.

The blue pen marks indicate the parts of me that should be airbrushed.

That’s the world I grew up in.

Even at 16, I had to be fixed, airbrushed and prettied up. I was never quite good enough as I was.

Now, when I look back at that time, I see a girl who had glowing skin and the ability to exist solely on Doritos while still having a thigh gap.

At 35, that thigh gap is long gone, but you know what I do have now?

  • gray hair (because I’m lucky to get older and wiser and experience life)
  • crow’s feet (because I’m lucky to be able to laugh a lot)
  • a little puffy roll where my abs should be (because I was lucky to go to Italy last month and eat gelato every day)

I’m done listening to a world that tells me that I should dye my hair and wear concealer and lose three pounds because that’s the weight that Jennifer Aniston prefers to be.

The Blue Pen People have made us all insecure about those things, but for some reason we’ve accepted that. And now, ridiculously, we’ve picked up that blue pen and are scribbling all over ourselves and others, highlighting whatever physical attributes we deem to be “wrong.”

There is so much negativity already in the world, why are we contributing by hating ourselves?

So, women (and men) of the world — what would happen if we came together and collectively decided that we just don’t care about the thigh gap? Or laugh lines? Or inadequate lashes?

What if we stopped judging other women, and ourselves, by silly criteria that have nothing to do with health or happiness? What if we just ended it? What if we decided to focus that energy on important, productive things that actually mattered? Let’s stop cursing the darkness under our eyes, and let’s light a candle.

It’s easy to think that we have all the time in the world and that sometime tomorrow or next year we will learn to be kind and love our hips.

But life is precious — and we just don’t have time for this blue pen bullshit.

Enough is enough.

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61 Replies to “Never enough: growing up airbrushed”

  1. Well said, Lisa!
    Many times I see myself comparing to other people and for what?! Society has made us this way. If you don’t look a certain way you are considered “ugly” or “fat.”
    I am now trying to accept who I am and accept the way I look and I am actually happy within myself.
    Thank you for this blog post, I have shared it.
    🙂 xxxxx

  2. I started getting grey hair in the 8th grade, Hollywood probably would have made me blonde. Thanks for the perspective of growing up in the industry, I will be nice reading your book soon.

  3. I think we all start need to believe that beauty exists on the inside, and finding that beauty in each and every person around us is the important thing. I don’t look at anyone and think that they’re ugly. I see personalities, and that’s something I’m comfortable with defining as beautiful or ugly. Our bodies may age, as can our personalities, but it’s personality that’s going to truly draw us to people.

  4. Gelato every day is definitely worth the belly roll! I’m an American living in India and when we get our registration pictures taken here (in India) they always photoshop them. My sister hates it because they lighten her skin (as if it’s more beautiful that way) but I am always happy because they remove my pimples! 🙂 But I’m with you, the blue pen bullshit needs to stop.

  5. Too much judgement by those who have no honour, no truth, no conscience! Appearances are the least of the things in life we need to worry about! It is the things we do I. Life that we will be remembered for, not size dress we wore or how blue our eyes are! Actions, life is about actions!

  6. Thank you! Thank you for speaking the truth and not holding it back. I’m one of those woman who takes the blue pen to myself and after reading this I realize I’ve done it to my 5 year old daughter too. Who is perfect with all of her little imperfections. I’m putting a stop to it now, and letting nature be as beautiful as it was meant to be.

    1. Woohoo! I think that is such a profound thing, when we see those habits reflected in the ones we love. Good for you. I’m sure she is perfectly imperfect. I really think that if you put down that blue pen – she’ll be less likely to think she needs to pick it up.

  7. I think in some ways this is being helped by the age of the selfie. With the use of snapchat and instagram people are taking pictures in the moment and saying this is me like it or not. Hopefully this will help get rid of the age of airbrushing to make everyone look “perfect” because in reality perfect usually isn’t what people like.

  8. What I don’t get is that they’ve penned up what is essentially your lower eyelids. Not “bags”, but actual lower eyelid. That’s half of your eyes! Are they insane?

  9. My favorite quote from of my favorite books comes to mind:

    “I stopped examining myself in the mirror to compare myself to the perfect beauties of movies and magazines; I decided I was beautiful—for the simple reason that I wanted to be. And then never gave the matter a second thought.” —Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

  10. I agree with you on this. I stopped worrying about me being bald because it just wasn’t getting me anywhere. Surely didn’t help with getting any dates. So now it is what it is. You can like it or not…I don’t care.
    Bless you Lisa

  11. I enjoyed this post.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard that song “All About that Bass” but I hate that song. Because, while it’s supposed to be empowering to women that are not skinny and “perfect”, it’s really horrible to the women that ARE thin. Why are we shaming anyone? We should all be supporting one another.

    1. Yeah, I’m torn about that song. At first, I liked the message about image, but when I really listened, I realized it’s still all about having self-confidence by being attractive to men. It’s still all about being a sex object. But it’s catchy as hell, though. 🙂

  12. Remember what Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

  13. Nowadays society seems to be obsessed with appearances, that’s very sad. A lot of photos published by magazines are so retouched than the person’s face loses its beauty & its whole soul. This is too smooth, lifeless. All you give as examples ( like the crow’s feet that are proof that you’re able to laugh a lot) are just the way I think about the whole thing myself. Plus, everyone possesses their own natural beauty and details that make them unique. And life shouldn’t be only about looks, there are more important things. Your article is so true and wise 🙂 !

  14. I hadn’t realized younger kids were subjected to the same headshot touchups as adults. It seems strange to say that I wish more of us were brave enough to say no to all the standards- as if some sort of courage were needed to do something that should be in theory so simple yet really isn’t. But in this day, “brave” seems to be the right word.

    1. It’s strange isn’t it? And yes, I think any time you are going against such a strong cultural norm it does require courage…even though it seems like such a silly little thing…

  15. Well said Lisa, you are a lovely young woman and I’m glad the Hollywood thing did not break you. I gave up worrying what others thought to, long ago. Clean, out of bed and dressed, the rest is all crap. Cheers.

  16. Thanks for this post! It’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and while I’m trying to let go of society’s expectations when it comes to beauty and perfection, I still struggle to find acceptance within myself that I’m actually good enough the way I am. Make-up or no make-up. Your post has been helpful to me and I hope it will be to many others, so we can all share a wrinkled-face laugh about it and indulge in another bag of crisps.

  17. Beautifully said, Lisa. Cheers! I couldn’t agree with you more. We all need to seize the day (carpe diem) and make the most of each moment stead of worrying about bullshit. By the way, I don’t understand why anyone blue-marked that photo of you. It’s absolutely beautiful as it stands. You look the same today. You’re very beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Thank you for another great post. As always, I enjoyed it and admire your writing.


  18. I love this! Growing up I have always been so self conscious about the most ridiculous things! When I think back to those specific things…I can’t believe how much time and energy I wasted thinking about them! As I get older…I definitely still have some insecurities, but it becomes too tiring to think about.
    I’m so happy you made it out of that world okay. Knowing me, I wouldn’t have.

    1. I do think it’s one of the many perks of getting older – you get to let some of this stuff go. Here’s hoping that continues!! Thanks for reading.

  19. Preach it, sistah. You are brilliant and beautiful. I will share with my students and my peeps in general. It’s a message that has been a headliner for me this year of me turning 50 complete with gray and wrinkles and pooches galore. xo

  20. Great post. You could teach alot of those Hollywood starlets of today a few things with your experience!! With women getting botox in their 20’s and lifts and tucks on their lunch breaks, young girls are being blinded by whats acceptable in the world. Keep your positive messages going and thanks for sharing!!!

  21. Thanks for sharing these type of experiences with people, I really appreciate that … Because you grew up inside a world which is unknown for most of us. Found your blog almost by accident, and I find it very interesting.
    Greetings from Uruguay 🙂

  22. Well said Lisa, and bless you. Very wise words of wisdom, for a young lady. I’m so glad that you took the time to be so open, and above all, honest. Good for you. I feel sure you’ll go on to inspire many, many people. You’ve certainly inspired me. Thank you, and may I say… Namaste xx

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