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Everyone Is Photoshopped, So Relax

shutterstock_151282874Models, actors, and sports celebrities are photoshopped. It’s no secret. But normal people are also photoshopped all the time. (Yes, I’m guilty of using the word photoshop as a verb.)

You see, we photoshop people in our minds without even realizing it. That pimple on aunt Bertha’s cheek gets noticed for a brief moment, and then forgotten 10 minutes later. The new wrinkle under the eyes of your neighbor is remembered as smooth skin. Five extra pounds on a stranger walking by is not even glanced at.

Who even stands close enough to notice? Certainly, our minds gloss over imperfections.

Smoothing Things Over

So what do we remember? We remember emotion, how a smile gives off a welcoming feel, or how a dress inspires our imagination. We recall impressions. If we had such exacting memories then we would all have graduated summa cum laude. The truth is that we can’t even remember what we ate this morning. We photoshop details into vague impressions, which is great news for all of our imperfections.

This means we can all relax a little bit more. Unless you’re being filmed or photographed, which is not often for most of us, you can stop worrying about the blemish, pimple, wrinkle or extra pounds.

Pushing Your Ideal Self Away

Chasing the desire to look perfect is pushing your ideal self too far from your true self, furthering unhappiness. This begs the question of what determines your ideal self. Where does it come from? Do you even know your ideal self? For some it means achieving a specific body weight and image of youth. For others, their ideal self is one who lives a respectable and responsible life. There are as many versions as there are people.

What we think happens in real life is not what actually happens (when a difference exists between a person’s ideal self and actual experience, the event is called an incongruence). During a conversation, we may think the person with whom we are talking is focusing on our physical imperfections. We may even assume that the other person is judging us for those imperfections. As an aside, I think the desire for cosmetic plastic surgery is driven usually by fear of being judged.

Herein lies the incongruence. People care about the conversation. Rarely does another person really care about an imperfection of beauty on your face. This isn’t Hollywood.

Worried What Others Think

We can feel comfortable with our appearance once we stop worrying about what others think of us. The road of perfection never ends. Instead, we should travel the road of self-acceptance. It’s much shorter and the burden much lighter. I encourage you to accept your physical appearance. It may be challenging at first, with glamorous media all around us on TVs, magazine covers, and billboards. But the way God built you is beautiful. (This isn’t to say that if you’re overweight you should not exercise and eat better to achieve proper weight control.)

People have very short memories. Politicians make careers out of this little fact. And Hollywood takes advantage of it. People won’t remember that new wrinkle under your eyes, nor will they wish to. People have far too many things to worry about in their busy lives. So we can all take a deep breath and relax a bit more.

You don’t have imperfections. Accept how you look and move on. Our memories are so short-lived that everyone is photoshopped in our minds. Nobody will remember your pimple or arm flab; nobody wants to.

by Dr. Charles Chaney

President, the Depression Health Network

Looking in a mirror image available from Shutterstock.

Everyone Is Photoshopped, So Relax

Dr. Charles

Dr. Charles Chaney is a leading pain medicine physician and psychiatrist in Southern California who specializes in women's health. He completed training in interventional pain medicine at UCSD and in general adult and reproductive psychiatry at UCLA. He has several publications in peer-reviewed academic journals, and has given numerous talks at medical conferences.

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APA Reference
Chaney, C. (2014). Everyone Is Photoshopped, So Relax. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 3 Dec 2014
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Dec 2014
Published on All rights reserved.