The launch of Paleo Girl has been amazing! Thank you SO much to those of you who have purchased, reviewed, shared, supported, and read this passion project of mine. Talking about issues for teens can be tough—and I knew I’d be faced with a certain level of scrutiny over every topic I decided to discuss, the way I presented the issues, and even get nitpicked over the individual words I chose to do so. I was ready for the inevitable bad review, the naysayers, and people who were out right offended for whatever reason they could find.
With all of these worries, fears, and distractions running through the back of my mind as I wrote this book, I genuinely tried to cater to my target demographic the best I could, while keeping true to myself and my message. When it came to choosing photos for the book—the models and myself—I wanted to stay true to the overarching meaning behind the book while still presenting a pretty little package that people would enjoy reading and flipping though to just look at the photos.
I want girls to realize media has distorted our views of beauty and what real people look like. I hate that our culture is this way and that we so often feel unworthy when we compare ourselves to the cover girl whose level of perfection feels oh so unattainable. At the same time, as a graphic designer, I know you don’t want to flip through a book full of washed out, grainy, or poor quality images. It would take away from the aesthetically pleasing feel of the book.
Can you understand the touchy balance I was dealing with?
The fitness and food photos I shot for the book were only color corrected in postproduction—I did not manipulate the food to look better than it was or the model, Olivia, to be more beautiful than she is. (She’s just a naturally stunning girl!) The rest of the photos were stock photos that I purchased from a website, in which photographers edit their own images as they see fit before uploading. When choosing these images, I did my best to find a wide variety of girls whom I felt represented the Paleo Girl theme. Lastly, there are images of me.
In my own personal story, “My Freshman (More Than) 15,” I share mostly what would be considered “unflattering” photos of myself. I’m not done up, in front of a professional camera, or decked out in the best clothes. All of these photos are real photographs from years past. No manipulation done to them to make myself look better—or worse—to enhance the story. It’s just me.
If you flip back to the back of the book, you will find a full-page image of myself on the beach. This is a press photo shot by a professional photographer, with a professional camera, and edited by a professional photo editor. I agreed to have this photo altered in postproduction so that it would look nice in the back of the book and for various press. I communicated with the photographer that my goal was to capture the real me, and that I would like for the photo editor to do very minimal work.
A few days after the shoot, I was sent a link of thousands of images of myself. Do you know how hard it is to pick a photo of yourself that you like that represents all of the feelings and emotions that you want to portray? I enlisted the help of my closest friends and family to help me choose. In the end, our collective favorite was a candid snap, right before leaving the beach. I’m backlit, the image is pretty dark, and I had a bunch of flyaways from the windy day. I momentarily considered putting it in the book as is, but knew it was best to make the image pop. In a couple days, there it was in my inbox—the final image. I was pleased with it and how minimally it was edited, but I still feared the inevitable “Hypocrite Police” that were going to beat me up online for being a phony.
With that said, here it is: a side-by-side comparison for everyone to see. The left is the unedited, fresh off the camera shot, and the edited image on the right. I am not ashamed of who I am or what I look like, but I also understand that sometimes presentation matters. If you think I’m wrong, get in line. I certainly can’t please everyone. I stand by my decisions and I stand by this book.
If you’d like to know more about my imperfections—AKA the real me, feel free to check out my success story featured on Mark’s Daily Apple. And thank you to everyone who supports my message and for all the love. I seriously want to hug you all!