They will be subject to society's beauty standards soon enough
by Kelly Tyra
This summer, I bought a couple of cacti. I felt the need to nurture something but preferred an organism that could thrive on neglect just like its momma. As I happily forgot to water my prickly pals, some of my peers signed up for the big leagues and decided to have real human babies. Cool.
I tracked their pregnancy progress on social media perusing their opinions on midwives, preggy pilates, and curbing cravings all the while munching on pita chips and pudding in the faint glow of my laptop. As their babies grew from the size of a grapefruit to the size of a watermelon, my cacti expanded a few nanometers. One by one, the balloon bellies popped, a baby appeared, and things started to get weird.
As I scrolled by these mini-humans on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, I noticed that their squishy baby faces more often than not had been filtered, edited, and even Photoshopped. While this struck me as simply strange at first, the more I thought about it, the more it hurt my heart.
In this digital day and age, I doubt that many millennials are printing physical copies of their baby’s pictures as many of our parents did for us. Instead, they are creating digital memories and mementos, cataloguing them on the wide wide world of web.
As we all know, the lives we seem to be leading on the internet are often very different from the mundane realities we face everyday. The internet gives us the opportunity to edit out all of our insecurities and imperfections. This is arguably not the healthiest habit and it is one we have already begun to pass on to future generations.
When you Photoshop a photo of your baby to share on your Facebook wall you are sending a message that this infant does not fit into your pixel perfect online life. At first, it may seem natural to edit your babies picture just as you would edit a photo of a particularly sexy caprese salad or a bomb-ass selfie. However, years from now when your child looks back at these photos on their iPhone 15s, they won’t see the sloppy, simple, human imperfections that we see (and love) in our own baby photos.
Don’t get me wrong; I love seeing pictures of your babies. I love seeing them covered in pasta sauce or stepping on the beach for the first time or playing with your puppy. Partly because those are moments that my cacti and I will never share. But mostly because those photos are celebrations of your life and the life of your family and I’m a sucker for that shit. However, you don’t need to edit out your baby’s neonatal acne and douse them in a Nashville filter for me to smash the like button.
If we want to create a better, more accepting world for future generations we need to teach them self-acceptance from the goo-goo-gah-gah get go. We need to show them that they are perfectas is and need not edit their appearance nor personalities to fit both in the real world and online. Perhaps this is a lesson we should also learn ourselves.
But hey, I don’t have any children, yet. And my cacti are hanging on by a thread so take my advice with a grain of salt. Just remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. When your kids grow up, what will these picture say?