Written 8th March 2020 ...

Beauty standards are forever evolving. Pre-Raphaelite curves. 1950’s pinched waist. 90’s heroin chic. There’s always something that people strive to emulate, but as we are all so wonderfully individual and uniquely made, it’s never been possible for one and all to conform to these unrealistic beauty trends…

Cue face changing apps giving the image conscious the ability to control how others see you (and how you see yourself). Don’t like you eye’s? Here, make them bigger. Wish you had one less chin? Here, one click and you’re contoured to perfection. Wish you looked a bit more Kardashian? Download the Kardashian app now. Want a cats nose, dogs ears, freckles, devil horns and a rainbow floating above your head? The world is your digital oyster!

On the surface, these zombie face filters are just a bit of fun, but I do wonder what lasting effects this ease of change will have on self image. My Instagram feed is full of perfectly posed and filtered, doll like perfection. Selfies digitally altered to the point that they look, well, unreal. And below, comments complementing them on this…“Oh babe you look unreal”, “Girl you skin is unreal”, “Eyelash goals #unreal”.

Is this how beauty is now defined? To look so perfect, to conform to an aesthetic so uniform and inhuman, that you look “unreal”? 

I scroll through my Instagram feed and I’m bombarded by altered images- images of women, of men, of children and babies with filters on their faces. I don’t know what’s real anymore. What do humans actually look like?

What will our children think of their childhood snapshots? “I don’t remember having whiskers”, they’ll think. Or “I don’t remember my Mum constantly surrounded by butterflies and glitter”. 

Their childhood memories will be camouflaged, distorted and untrue.

I look at my own childhood snapshots, taken rarely, by those who were inexperienced with a camera of those who weren’t practiced in posing. These photographs were imperfect, often blurred, weird expressions, people not looking, anomalies in them only discovered after the film had been developed and you picked up your prints from the chemist. They’re real moments taken with the intention of capturing a memory. And I love them. I treasure them. Their imperfect nature would never live up to todays standards- someones not looking? DELETE. Pulling a weird face? DELETE? Looking a bit tired? FILTER FILTER FILTER. CONFORM CONFORM CONFORM. MUST LOOK PERFECT. MUST LOOK THE SAME. MUST LOOK UNREAL. LIVING FOR THE LIKES.

The point of taking a portrait or snapshot is to create a memory, a natural moment, or to record what makes us an individual whilst capturing our unique relationship with those around us. Selfies are taken with a preconceived notion of how they will look, what we want to communicate about ourselves, our lives and personality, regardless of it being real or not. Filters and apps just serve to further remove us from the truth and by doing so, we lose what is truly beautiful. Reality.

I worry for our children who see us altering ourselves and the effect it will have on their self image. Will they see themselves as ugly and worthless if they’re not like everyone else? Is that how we see ourselves?

I felt I wanted to do something to celebrate how beautiful reality is, to reject conformity as a beauty standard and show young girls particularly that they don’t have to pop a hip, doll up and alter themselves to be of worth. I wanted to explore how we see ourselves, and how our children see us. They say “monkey see, monkey do” so I rallied some friends and put out a model call for some absolute Queens to volunteer to lead by example.

“True faced” is a series of portraits of women and their daughters inspired by these thoughts on self image in the landscape of social media and digital image manipulation. I asked my sitters to wear minimal to no makeup to truly celebrate the natural self, no filters, no camouflage. The images have been converted to black and white, but are otherwise as shot in camera.

Our “imperfections” are what give us character. Our unique features are where you find beauty. What makes us different makes us memorable. Filters and makeup as a mask are killing our sense of the natural self. I hope these images inspire you to be more real than un-real and take confidence from what makes you different. Pass that strength to your children. Celebrate what you love about yourself and they will too.

If you’re interested in a portrait, be it of the True Faced you, your newborn, your little wondercake smash, or family check out all the services I offer here and drop me a line now.

Massive thanks to all my fabulous faced femmes for donating your time and trusting in my idea!