10/11/2012 04:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

I'm Dropping the Photoshop and Pledging to Show the REAL Me

proud2bme challenge
Are you tired of feeling like you can never measure up? According to mainstream media, we should be spending our time chasing "perfection," snarking on others, and placing our self-worth in our looks. We're over it!
and this goes at bottom: Join us for the #Proud2Bme Challenge and register for the free Proud2Bme Summit this Saturday, October 13!

When I got my senior pictures done for graduation, I made sure I chose a service that did a very minimal amount of editing. They removed stray hairs and wrinkles from my clothing, but they did not alter my face or body. Although there was temptation to use a different service for a "perfect" picture, I am happy with my decision. My senior picture looks like me, not like a digital reconstruction of me. The sole purpose of photos is for documentation, and when looking back, I want to be able to remember how I looked at the time -- not how the computer thought I should look.

There are many resources that can be used to alter a photo, and with technology growing at the rate that it has been, these resources are becoming more readily available and more user friendly. Editing photos for interesting effects is one thing, but oftentimes Photoshop is being used to make the subject of a photo appear flawless. The issue with digitally altering an image isn't the image itself, but what it teaches the subject, and what it says to society. Although one may be led to believe that altering a photo is "harmless," our constant exposure to these images is hazardous to our health.

By now, most teens flipping through magazines are aware of the fact that the models are Photoshopped and altered to appear "perfect." Although that is becoming common knowledge, many are unaware that 28 percent of girls are now editing their own photos before posting them to social networking sites. Many readers know the models aren't real, but they do not know that 28 percent of the photos they see on social networking sites are just as fake as the ones in magazines. This sets up an unattainable standard of comparison and is damaging to society. We feel inadequate when comparing ourselves to the photos of girls we see on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, but a good number of those pictures are retouched too.

Photoshopping can also be harmful to the subject of the photo. It is safe to assume that the reason the photo was altered in the first place was because the girl was self-conscious and saw a flaw that she wanted to be corrected. Although the altered photo might allow for temporary satisfaction and superficial compliments, it is going to continually make her question herself. That girl may feel invisible without the use of photo editing, and that is exactly the kind of insecurity that can lead to life-threatening conditions such as eating disorders and depression.

That's why I'm taking the #Proud2Bme pledge to show the REAL me, not a Photoshopped idea of what beauty should look like. I hope you'll take the pledge too, so we can start to push back against the pressure to be perfect. In order to create such a movement, we must adopt the Gandhi belief: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." If you want to see altered photos be eliminated, eliminate yours, and speak up about the issue. You have the power to inspire a change and potentially make a difference in someone's life. Join us for the #Proud2Bme 3-Day Challenge and speak up about your beliefs, because we have the power to be the change.

Are you struggling with an eating disorder or do you know someone who is? Call the National Eating Disorders Association's toll-free helpline for support: (800)-931-2237.