The Juice & the Squeeze

Perfectly Imperfect: Why Authenticity is the Only Filter You Need

Just be you, silly!

Two people kissing

If you’ve just woken from a twenty-year coma, hello! The world is a crazy, weird place, and you’ve got a lot of catching up to do, but here’s what you need to know right now: phones are high-tech and people can make themselves look different. 

If you haven’t woken up from a coma, you already know this. A trip to the r/IntagramReality subreddit shows how many people distort images of themselves on Instagram, sometimes looking like different people altogether. Mostly, though, they’re laughably bad examples of photo editing with distorted backgrounds or frightening, Picasso-ish aberrations. As my fifteen-year-old sister would say, “People do be fake.” 

It’s easy to be “fake” now. You don’t have to be you anymore—not if you don’t want to. It’s pretty much the entire premise of the show Catfish. The second half of the premise is that, in person, you are still you. You don’t have a choice. It leads to a lot of heartbreak and tons of views for MTV. 

Catfish is an extreme example, but don’t we all do this on a smaller scale from time to time? 

It’s called kittenfishing: making yourself seem more desirable on a dating app. It’s not outright lying about your identity, like catfishing, but altering your appearance on your dating profile radically from what you’re like in person (posting photos with deceptive angles or from years ago, lying about age, height or occupation, or wearing hats to cover up baldness) or bending the truth in other ways to seem more desirable (fibbing your occupation or hobbies). 

No judgement here. It’s silly, but it’s also what we do. We do it because we’re striving for “perfection” and acceptance in the form of vanity “likes” on dating apps.

But perfection is something that’s sold to us, it’s not an achievable goal. And being “perfect” doesn’t necessarily make you more desirable. For example, studies have even shown that we’re more likely to find asymmetrical faces more attractive than symmetrical ones, meaning that what we consider “perfect” isn’t actually perfect. 

Also, even though rejection is crushing, it’s a natural part of life. If it makes you feel any better, even the “perfect” people face rejection. And while being rejected after being “real” with someone is like being stung by a hive of bees when you have a bee allergy, in the dating context, it’s much better to be rejected early on than to invest time in someone who doesn’t have any interest in the real-life, authentic you! 

Everyone deserves to be loved for who they are. It takes courage to be yourself in the face of potential rejection, but it’s also the only guaranteed way to find someone who appreciates you for you. When you find the person who does that, it’s fireworks.

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