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A recent survey, carried out in the UK by Girlguiding, caught my eye. The survey found that one third of girls and young women will not post selfies on social networks without using a filter to adjust their appearance. I find this a staggering statistic. As someone who regularly posts selfies (I am an image consultant after all), I have never used a filter. I’ve never contemplated using a filter. If I were using filters, my integrity in what I do would be hugely compromised and I’m not prepared to do that. What you see is what you get. In fact, upon arriving at my studio, a client did remark that I looked better in real life (than in photos!). I took that as a compliment.

Distorted views of reality are the side effects of frequent social network use. We’re now all familiar with FOMO (fear of missing out) and ‘comparisonitis’, as we compare our lives to those seemingly perfect existences reflected on social networks. The grass is always greener is not a new concept.

Early research indicates that using social networks appears to be correlated with body image concerns and at a younger and younger age. A systematic review of 20 papers published in 2016 found that photo-based activities, like scrolling through Instagram or posting pictures of yourself, were a particular problem when it came to negative thoughts about your body. There is now a campaign which began on Instagram using the hashtag ‘filterdrop’ asking everyone to post only unfiltered images to social networks to reflect an unaltered view of reality.

What do I do as an Image Consultant?

In every face to face session with clients, I have a rule that they are not allowed to point out the one or two things they don’t like about themselves. Why?

1.       They draw attention to it so that others notice it

2.       It becomes a negative conversation in their head. We don’t give voice to the inner critic – we want to silence the inner critic

3.       Negativity breeds negativity. Conversely positivity breeds positivity. My focus is on the positive.

In every face to face session I ensure that my client knows to assertively say thank you when she/he receives compliments. No apologies, no explanations; thank you is enough. I encourage them to cherish and stand into their own beauty and value who they are above what they look like.

I ensure that every client understands how to be their best selves whatever that means for them. I give them the tools, information and knowledge to guide them into feeling good about themselves every day. They will understand which clothes and make-up to choose whether they need to be formal for work, casual for home or something else entirely.

Looking in the mirror should be joyful, loving how you look should be a privilege for everyone – drop the filter.