Are you the real you?
Are you the real you?
Written by Michele Ong
Layout by Vania Tan
Photos by Joshua Ong, James Mellor and Blake Wisz
Taking a holiday snap for the album used to be a bit of a hit-or-miss affair. Sometimes, it was not until you developed your photo that you discovered you were missing your head or had your eyes closed. At other times, the photo would come out dull, blurred or just lacking that “wow” factor.
The arrival of cameras and smart phones, bringing along with them their wide array of digital filters, changed the photography scene forever. Now, not only can you actually see what you’re taking, you can also turn the most average-looking photo into a work of art with just a click of a button, just like what photographers used to do with their expensive glass filters on their cameras.
Want to give your photo a nostalgic or more traditional feel? Try Instagram’s Inkwell, which transforms colored photos into black-and-white ones. Got a breathtaking view of a majestic mountain? Slap on a Hefe to show off that blue sky and those dramatic ridges. Or do a Hudson on your day’s breakfast of coffee and toast to make them look more appetizing.
Filters can make you look good too. Got a shot of you in your gym gear with a tall smoothie in one hand? A Lo-fi filter will give you extra glow on your face. Remember to include those hashtags, #eatinghealthy #keepingfit. Or how about that photo of you and your friend having brunch? Try the Rise filter for a softer, more natural look, and tag it #bestfriends #brunch. For those photos of yourself dressed to the nines for date night, use Nashville for a more romantic look.
Perhaps the sky had the right tinge of blue, the fields the right hue of green, and the faces that healthy glow that no filter could improve. Or, you snapped a selfie that shows you in your best light, and want to show your friends that hey, you really do look good without your make-up.
That’s when you can proudly post your photo on Facebook or Instagram and tag it #nofilter, showing that what viewers see, is exactly what you snapped—no filters, no tricks, no touch-ups.
That is, if you’re honest.
Instagram has tens of million photos tagged #nofilter. But according to social media marketing company Spredfast, 11 percent of #nofilter pictures on the photo-sharing site are “posers”. That means that more than eight million supposedly filter-free photos have in fact been improved with filters, the most popular being Amaro, which brightens the centre of a picture. Other popular #nofilter choices included Valencia and X-Pro II.
There’s even a website with a Faker Catcher tool, which lets you run your friends’ #nofilter photos through a software which checks if your friend is being a “Filter Faker” or not.
While not everyone lies about their #nofilter photos, it appears many of us are quite comfortable with telling a little white lie to make all our photos—whether they’re scenic shots, portraits, landscapes, or arty shots—look perfect. It also shows our wish to look good to others—and sometimes, to pretend we’re as good as we seem to be, even when we’re not.
Oscar Wilde’s classic The Picture of Dorian Gray tells the tale of a hedonistic young man who is so captivated by his good looks when he has his portrait painted, that he does not hesitate to sell his soul to keep his youth. While he stays young forever, his portrait ages and decays with every evil act he does.
Women in ancient China who were hoping to be selected to be one of the emperor’s wives or concubines were also said to have bribed the court artist to paint them in the best light and to have a “beauty spot” added, or a wart or two removed.
Why do so many people fake their #nofilter pictures? Is it because the idea of presenting ourselves just as we are requires a rock-solid confidence in our looks and abilities which we may not have? Without filters and make-up to cover our imperfections, fears and insecurities are likely to race through our minds. “What if I look terrible without my make-up?” “Oh no, there is no hiding my chubby cheeks now!”
As the creator of the universe who had planned for each one of us long before we were born, He would be able to see through all our “filters” and pretence. We might be able to hide our imperfections from others by showing them only what we want them to see, but God knows our every feeling, thought, and action.
In the book of Psalms in the Bible, Israelite king David, who had a very close relationship with God, acknowledged His ability to see him as he truly was.
“O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!” (Psalm 139:1–6, NLT).
Would we be too fearful to meet God, knowing that He can see all our imperfections and failures?
Well, here’s the good news: Although God is holy, perfect, and righteous, He does not expect us to be perfect when we come to Him. Why? It’s because He loves us dearly and wants to have a relationship with us—in fact, He loves us so much that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, into this world to deal with our imperfections on our behalf. He paid the ultimate price for our imperfections, dying on the cross so that we can be accepted into God’s presence.
This means we can now present ourselves to God exactly the way we are—raw, imperfect, and unfiltered. When God looks at us, He does not judge us by our looks and our physical traits, unlike what the world does. Instead, He looks at the heart. And, because of Jesus, we have His stamp of approval. There will be no more need for filters.
The next time you are about to upload a photo onto Instagram—whether it’s filtered or #nofilter—take a second to reflect on God, who loves you and accepts you just the way you are. Will you turn to Him and accept His love for you?
If this writing has touched you in any way, we hope you will pick up a Bible and take a look at what it says about God and the good news He is giving you. You can also contact a Christian friend or a nearby church to speak to someone who can tell you more.
You can also click on the banner below to learn more about God and to read the many resources we have to help you.