Sex-and-the-Citying Yourself: Changing Your Face With Photoshop

7 years ago

Back when I first started watching Sex and the City with my girlfriends, we were all single and in our first city apartments (fine, our city was Washington, D.C., but don't let the dowdy politicians fool you -- our Cosmos are strong). We'd gather at Amy's place and eat a late dinner, bitching about our boyfriends or jobs -- just like Carrie, Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

Fast-forward from 1998 to 2010. Everyone in my original group is now married and all have at least one child. We also have gray hairs (that we either dye or leave natural), eye wrinkles, saggy boobs, and flabby stomachs. Such is life -- it's what happens when the city girls age and move out to the suburbs. Which is not to say that we've let ourselves go and are sitting around in frumpwear. I still run three miles a day -- as I did back in 1998 -- and I always look for a nice, supportive bra. But still, age happens.

Unless you're Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, or Charlotte, who are either the ladies time forgot (and they certainly don't look 12 years older) or have been airbrushed beyond belief on the movie poster for the latest Sex and the City movie.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis on the set of Sex and the City 2

Calliope from Creating Motherhood noticed the same thing and commented about it in a recent post. "It is a beyond laughable fail in photo-shopping. Honestly, the poster is a bit bananas. The women have been tinkered with from head to toe and the result is a bit freaky."

To point out how easy it is to Photoshop oneself, Calliope posted a before and after picture. She took a new pictures to update her Twitter profile before the BlogHer conference, figuring that people would be more likely to look up at her face than down at the plaid shoes that are her current profile picture. But then she started tinkering with it, changing her hair color, eyelashes, and chin. The change is startling.

I talked with Calliope about how she felt seeing her face Sex-and-the-Citified on the computer screen.

How easy is it to Photoshop your own picture? How long did it take for you to go from before to after?

It was surprisingly easy to do the Photoshopping. If you asked me to tell you five things about my face that bothered me, I could tell you twenty. I know where every dark circle and zit is. I felt this amazing sense of glee to erase or fix the flaws, and I spent about an hour moving things around on my face like it was a slider puzzle. Then I couldn't find anything left to tweak or change and all I could do was stare at the creature I had created.

How did you feel seeing yourself so enormously changed?

It made me laugh, and it made me feel a bit grossed out. The tool I used for most of the morphing is literally called "liquefy," so nothing about my face had any connection to my reality. I was liquid. But then I found myself appreciating (for lack of a better word) some of the "fixes" I had done. I liked that my teeth looked so straight and so blindingly white. I liked that my hair was no longer gray and brassy red. I liked that my skin was smooth and felt like my eyes looked glamorous. I feel sort of silly to admit, but I really did like those individual things -- but the conglomerate was a total, freakish mess.

How did you feel looking in the mirror afterward?

I did spend some time this morning cursing at the gray hairs, but I felt a sense of ownership to my face that I don't think I have felt before. The teeth could get bleached and the hair could get dyed, but all of the other things on my face: the freckles, the dark circles under my eyes, the extra chins -- that's who I am right now. I claim it.

By the way, Calliope also has a lot of cool links to other before and after pictures of celebrities at the bottom of her post.

Secretly, I really wanted Calliope to Sex-and-the-Citify my face. I'd love to get rid of the gray streaks, the crease on my forehead, and shave a few pounds from my face. And I'll admit that I'm trading her some Photoshop lessons for bread-baking tips.

But will I be happy with what I currently have once I see what could be?

In other words, after I Photoshop all the changes to my face (not to mention what I'd do with a full body shot! Smaller boobs and a flat stomach), will I still think I'm pretty when I look in the mirror? Because I actually do think I still look remarkably like my hot, little 1998 single self, who used to go clubbing on Saturday nights. I just look like an older version of that girl, one with a few life battle scars.

Because damn it, I do like what those gray hairs mean --that I also have gathered 12 years of wisdom and experiences -- even though I often talk about covering them up.

Would you want to see your face photoshopped? Would you still be able to love yourself as is afterward?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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