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  • Writer's pictureNora Coulter

Photoshop, Filters, and Daughters

A few months ago, while scrolling through FaceBook, I saw a post of a woman saying she was teaching her preteen daughter how to use filters. Not the fun, kid-friendly filters that make you look like a cat or a cartoon character but a filter that removes almost all distinguishing characteristics from one's face. The filter that is making, mostly women, have the same alienesque look with ageless, ghostly complexion, widened eyes, and narrow chin.

I am not against photoshopping to adjust lighting, remove a blemish, or make a small adjustment. I am not a fan of the level of photoshopping that makes a person unrecognizable, but I certainly understand the discomfort with one's appearance that leads to that behavior. But my heart sank to see someone sending a subtle, unintentional, message to their daughter that their appearance is not quite good enough.

This incident makes me wonder how often we may voice affirming words to our daughters but model a very different behavior to their ever-watching eyes. As mothers, we are more aware that negative talk about our bodies and talking about or modeling food restriction and dieting can lead to body dissatisfaction in our children. We have learned to complement our daughters' intelligence, kindness, work ethic, and other qualities over their appearance to build self-worth that comes from within. But when they see their mothers filter and photoshop their photos beyond recognition, do those words become meaningless?

When we talk the talk but then slim our waist, tweak our hips, create a non-existent thigh gap, or blur our facial features, we are falling into the trap we are trying to help our daughters avoid. As parents, we try to pay attention to our children's apps and what they watch on tv or stream, but are we paying attention to what we post? Are we too cozy in the belief that they aren't paying attention?

The younger generation is inundated by a photoshopped and filtered social media world that creates unrealistic images for young women. From body shape to facial features, many of the "influencers" and celebrities that the younger generation follow look very little like their online photos. Because of this, it becomes even more imperative that we not only talk to our daughters about this misrepresentation, but we also model body positivity and acceptance in all areas, including our own social media photos.

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