How Photoshop Helped me Overcome my Insecurities about Nude Modeling with Stretch Marks

Photoshop my Scars!

My opinion on ethical vs detrimental use of editing models’ bodies.

A before and after display of an untouched photo and the photoshopped final product art piece of Kristy Jessica by artist Romen Cole

Having a passionate drive for modeling when the world says you are inadequate to succeed is like having a HUGE crush on someone who is already taken. Like a rotten limb dragging you behind, insecurities cause you to think “no photographer would want to work with me…”,
“I am too fat/ too thin/ too short/ have acne/ have tattoos/ have scars…” WHATEVER!

11 years ago I was this debilitated shell of a dreamer. I would look in the mirror and see my inner beauty, some peers would even say I should try modeling. I wanted to so badly, but my inside voice was echoing “you’re too short, and you have stretch marks, NO serious photographer would want to work with you!” Seeing the seemingly scar-free super tall women on America’s Next Top model only confirmed my fears.

That didn’t stop me from attempting to express my inner beauty, I posted self-shot photos on MySpace (don’t laugh!) and photographers found me. One freelance shoot led to the next, and over time I snowballed an online portfolio of sorts. I still was scared shitless of not being good enough. I used concealer to cover my scars (it would take like an HOUR and I could never blend it right!) I bought all the expensive creams and I even secretly got “laser removal treatments” on Groupon when I was 19 using money I saved while working at fast food. NOTHING WORKS! I have tried it, unless your stretch marks are brand spanking new there is NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT!

(PS if you’re a marketing agent for some magic cream, please do NOT contact me, haha)

Sometime the lighting enhances or hides them. I was hyper focused on it. America’s Next Top Model was coming to Seattle for their “all shapes and sizes” season, and I shirked at the opportunity ONLY because of my insecurity about these marks.

A couple of photographers mentioned it, but they still continued to hire me. I should have realized then it was no big deal. It took YEARS for me to give up the concealer BS, after I figured photogs were often just photoshopping out my flaws anyway! When I was new to modeling, photoshop wasn’t really talked about. The term “airbrushed” was more common back then, and it was a mystery to me. Since I didn’t know how it worked, I still clung to my self-limiting beliefs.

Now I perceive photoshop as an artistic tool that can be used to enhance the artistic visual appeal of a work of art. There are some retouchers who use it to change the shape of a person’s body (i.e. bigger boobs, smaller waist etc) which, in my opinion, is the root of the cause of unnecessary self-loathing, body dysmorphia, eating disorders, self-manipulation, and even suicide.

Visual art is texture, shadows, highlights, curves, lines, and emotions. Sometimes skin texture (like my stretch marks) can interfere with the overall artistic vision of the photograph, in this case it I think it’s fine to photoshop them out. The photo on the left (above) is the unretouched version of a photo by the super talented Romen Cole. He sent me the proofs and I immediately zoomed my gaze on the stretch marks. I felt super embarrassed to ask if he would remove them, he said “of course! These are merely the unedited proofs 🙂 “ Of course, I was relieved.

The final product photo is an amazing work of art, we stayed up past my bedtime after a long flight to capture this beautiful image. This was a pose he suggested, in fact it was not in my “posing vocabulary” yet. To this day it is one of my favorite images of my whole career.

In summary, if you’re insecure about some part of your body like a mole, freckles, scar, or other body part that defines you, STOP THAT! Just realize that true artists want to create art, and your body can be used as their canvas. The opportunity to collaborate with epic artists has helped me surpass the dark pit of despair I felt when opportunities knocked on my door towards the early days of my freelance modeling career. It takes COURAGE to put yourself out there, and if you do it you will gain rewards tenfold! 

PS: If you’re a photographer who has unedited versions of photos of me, I would love to make more “before and after photoshopping” pics to help other women with body image issues!

What part about your body are YOU the most insecure about? Tell me in the comments, let’s lift each other up!


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