The Stages of FaceTune Guilt.

A few weeks ago, I discovered this amazing new app. I actually think Apple tempted me with it. Somehow they suggested it to me – I don’t remember where, but I do clearly remember the wording.

“Wondering how all your friend’s selfies are so amazing? This is what they’re using.”

I was intrigued, because all of my selfies make my face look like the landscape of mars, and the size of it too.

I downloaded the app, FaceTune, and was immediately overwhelmed by the auto-loading tutorials. They were intense. There was a LOT going on here.

But I slowly started playing with one setting at a time….

And there began my downward spiral into tuning my face.

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It didn’t help at all that we had family photos the next week, and I suddenly had hundreds of pictures with which to tinker.

I mean sure, I played with the kid’s eyes to make them brighter and less shadowy, but this app was really about me, not them. Their skin hasn’t yet been ruined by the ravages of sun and lack of sleep and poor skincare like mine has.

And so I played. I smoothed out my skin, erasing wrinkles and sun spots and crater-pores. I was amazed!! If only I had airbrush makeup (or a skin transplant), I could look like this every day!

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Then I erased under-eye shadows. Surely they’re just because I’m terrible at putting on mascara – it’s not what I really look like. I am just erasing my own mistakes – that’s all!

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It was so easy! Just a swipe of my finger here and there…

But FaceTune is a lot like Plastic Surgery.

A little is great.

But the longer you play, the more likely you are to turn yourself into something grotesque.

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I mean sure, I don’t have any wrinkles, but my face nearly lost all natural contours in the process. Magic always has a price.

And then there was this edit.

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Yes, my skin looks like it could be in a beauty pageant. But I also look like an American Girl Doll replica of myself. She ain’t real.

Despite my slight misgivings about my somewhat deceptive editing, I posted two of the photos as my new profile pictures on all of my social media accounts:

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And the comments began.

“You look so young!”

“I swear you’re aging backwards!”

“You look fifteen!”

“Is your hair blue?”

Aside from the last one, each pricked my conscience a little more forcefully.

I mean sure, I’ve always edited my photos (who doesn’t?), but FaceTune gave me a level of control the likes of which I’d never wielded before. And with much power comes much…facial contortion.

And so began my downward spiral of angst and conflicting emotions.

1. I should admit that objects in this photo are not as young as they appear.

2. They don’t even look like me. I mean, those photos were taken when I looked my best, so there is no way I could ever achieve the post-edit skin tone on my own.

3. But it could! If I were better at makeup! Or had my own professional airbrush cosmetics studio!

4. Okay not really .This is what I would look like if I had a proper skin care regimen AND started it twenty years ago. And maybe wasn’t prone to freckling.

5. But I could be this person if I lived entirely on the internet. Oh – I wonder if I could do that?! Then I could have all the perfect skin tone I wanted….

6. I NEED NEW MAKEUP!!

7. Oh dang. There’s another comment. I need to admit my trespasses. I have to. I’m losing all credibility. The only way to regain it is to post a no-makeup selfie.

Or not.

8. But if the photo were overexposed, my skin would look that good, too! Cameras always lie – everyone knows that!

9. And anyway. I bet all the people on the internet with perfect skin are just FaceTuned. That’s what Apple told me, didn’t they?!

10. MAKEUP. I MUST GET NEW MAKEUP.

11. Argh. The photographer just liked my photo on Facebook. He’s probably judging me for smoothing myself. HE knows what I really looked like. HE knows I’m lying through my wrinkles.

12. I wonder how you can shrink pores as big as mine?

13. FaceTune. Oh, FaceTune. Why can’t you transform my skin like you lie about my photograph? Why can’t you be a real boy?

14. If God didn’t want me to be able to smooth my skin on the internet then He wouldn’t have created FaceTune. So there.

…But He could’ve cut out the middle man and just given me flawless skin to start with…

15. Guilt. Nothing but guilt. (But not quite enough to change my profile picture.)

FaceTune should have been called Pandora’s Face. That’s all there is to it.

The Day I Started Wearing Leggings as Pants.

Leggings as Pants

It’s a tough row to hoe, sharing one’s principles on the internet.

Because sometimes you end up changing those principles. And there’s nothing the internet loves more than hypocrisy.

For instance, the time that I made fun of Toms, then had to admit that it was all my son would wear – and worse, that I was starting to like them.

Since I wrote that, my son’s collection has only grown, Ali has a couple of pairs, and I now own four (four!) pairs of Toms myself, with one more on the way.

Toms Collection

I know. Right? I should fire me.

But leggings not being pants is a principle I’ve long stood by. Crotches were meant to be covered by more than cotton/lycra stretch fabric – because extraordinarily unsightly things can happen when they’re not.

But then.

Then I began running this summer.

Running voraciously, daily, and passionately.

There was no problem at first because it was summer – I was running in shorts and a tank top, blissfully unaware at the wretched corner I was self-painting into.

I realized my error and began fretting as we entered September. It wasn’t time to make the decision yet, but I knew it was coming.

What would I wear for cold weather running?

This was a serious situation for me to grapple with. A perception-shattering dilemma. A potentially credibility-crushing decision.

I realize that running leggings are not at all the same thing as an Aztec-print legging that doesn’t line up in the crotch. But my town is brimming over with girls who wear workout leggings to hang out at Starbucks with full makeup and hair to accompany them, and I admit I’ve judged that, as well. It’s the “I want to look like I’ve been working out so I can get away with this outfit but I still want to look good while doing it” look.

At least I am aware of my stranger-judging problem. And that I am a terrible person.

So I began considering my options.

…There were loose running pants. This seemed fraught with issue. Knowing my level of grace I was sure to get my foot tangled in the cuff right as I was passing by a cliff and fall to my death.

No, I don’t want to die over my stand on pants.

…There were the skirt-over-leggings running pants.

I wore enough skorts in Junior High. No.

…I could wear shorts over my leggings. This was the most reasonable option, but it felt rather like a homeschooler trying to be overly modest at a 90’s track meet.

(I have reason to feel this way. We actually had to sew extra-wide ribbons on the ends of our already-long Umbros for our track meets. I feel it necessary to say that even the homeschool parents thought this practice was ridiculous – it was the private school sports association hosting the track meet that required such full coverage, along with the sleeved t-shirts.)

Track Meet Nineties

Umbros have never felt so violated.

(It should also be noted that there were no corresponding Rules of Decency for males at this track meet, as my brother’s Creeper Mustache more than adequately proves.)

Shorts-over-leggings was not a viable option for me.

And so my choices seemed to sift through my fingers, nothing left but grossly trespassing my principles.

And trespass I did.

I clenched my teeth, balled my hands up into determined fists, and bought four pairs of running leggings – one pair’s tag even used the phrase “Running Tights.”

And I wore them.

In public.

With a shirt not covering my butt.

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And when I finished running, I went to Target.

And I bought coffee.

And I even ate a meal out with my husband.

And I judged myself harshly.

Then one day, the universe gave me the opportunity to complete my full level of hypocrisy – I went running after being super dressed up for something else.

So I was in public in running clothes and full makeup and hair. Which means that perhaps all those other girls at Starbucks had also just been running in their full makeup and hair. And that I’m a terrible person.

Chris demanded that I take a photo of my moment of breaking every principle I held dear (and looking downright ridiculous).

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At least you can’t see my leggings as pants. Or the Frappuccino.

The Brush of Death.

I’ve made many humiliating parental admissions on this blog.

You guys know that I only bathe my children twice a week.

You are aware that I never make their beds.

You have been apprised of my issues with Sippy Cups and Mold.

So you probably won’t be shocked that I’m not the best teeth-brushing mother, either.

(And although I’ve tried to be a flossing mother, it’s really a ridiculous undertaking since the gaps between their teeth are so large that it’s like rubbing a piece of yarn between two houses an acre apart and expecting to pick up some paint chips.)

But back to brushing.

Ali is responsible for her own teeth, and she does a decent job, although she must be reminded two times a day because heaven forbid a kid actually realize that they are responsible for the same things every single day.

I mean really. There’s just no logic to expecting her to know that she is required to brush her teeth today just because she was required to do so yesterday. And last week on this day. And last month on this day. And last year on this day.

Moving on.

Then there’s Noah.

I’ve been riding high on the fact that he’s gotten four good dentist reports, and have let this undeserved success fuel me in my lack of proper attention to his teeth.

(And I might also occasionally tell myself “Eh, they’re only baby teeth!”)

It’s not that I don’t try.

Really.

It’s just that he doesn’t appreciate my efforts and he’s a professional wiggler and whiner, so short of me buying a cast-off set of stocks from a medieval torture chamber estate sale or a second-hand straight jacket from a Mental Institution Going Out of Business Everything Must Go Sale, I’m not going to be able to force him to let me properly clean his teeth.

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So I do my best at night before he starts screaming and thrashing (because I’m supposedly hurting him but just wait till he feels how comfortable a straight jacket is), and sometimes I don’t even try in the mornings.

If I’m feeling really lazy, I’ll just ask Ali to brush his teeth while they’re in there together, and I don’t check up on them so I don’t have to feel guilty about her seven-year-old sub-par cleansing of her brother’s mouth garden.

Because I’m the best sort of Mommy.

Last Thursday night was one of those times.

I had taken the kids out of town by myself (more on that adventure later), and by nightfall I was exhausted. We’d skipped nap, we’d had adventure and intrigue, we’d walked and shopped and explored, I’d never had a second of alone time to regroup, and they’d asked a combined total of 1,238 questions.

There was no hope of having the patience for a screaming teeth-brushing fest in my immediate future.

So I sent Ali and Noah to the tiny hotel bathroom and instructed Ali to brush her teeth, then Noah’s.

The difference, however, was that I could see the children from my reclining comatose position on my hotel bed.

And what I saw changed the world…forever.

I did not see a screaming, whining, thrashing toddler.

Nor did I see a seven-year-old make a cursory toothbrush swipe across her brother’s face to be able to say she obeyed me.

I saw this.

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A toddler willingly opening his mouth for his sister.

When she told him to.

Wider than he has ever opened his mouth for me.

Then, this.

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My son accepting a thorough brushing of his teeth – with a smile.

A SMILE!! And even a giggle or two.

Then, THIS:

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She said “Say eeee!” And he actually said eeee.

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Every single night I tell that same kid to say eeee and he acts like he has no freaking idea what I’m talking about. Never, has he ever, put his teeth together and opened his lips to allow me to brush his teeth like a real human being!

I had chalked it up to him being three and not a bright firstborn and simply not understanding my commands. Now, I see that he is certainly bright. And extraordinarily talented at hiding his brightness.

And that his mouth can indeed open happily when a toothbrush is nearby.

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And that his Magical Sister will forevermore have the responsibility of brushing his teeth.

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The game is up, son. The game is up.