If you’ve ever secretly envied your friend’s blond hair or bone structure, if you’ve ever felt like you weren’t pretty enough or handsome enough or attractive enough in general, or if you’ve ever wanted to trade places with someone for even just a second, I think you’ll get what I’m saying.
I recently got a new phone and downloaded Snapchat again. This version of the application allows me to utilize fun filters to edit my pictures, one of which swaps the faces of two different people. I was having a lot of fun with it until I realized just how strange it truly was. I switched the faces of my family members and my friends, and obviously, it all looked horrendous. Really weird. Very, very awkward. Not at all attractive. At first, it was funny, and then I saw one of my peers post a picture online of a face swap she did with her friend. She captioned it something along the lines of “the ugliest couple ever.”
Both of those girls are beautiful, both inside and out. What could ever make them ugly? Why do we now need to distort our bodies technologically when we already have multitudes of ways of “improving” ourselves in other ways? Is it truly distortion, or is it just fun? Is this filter just another way to play off our insecurities in a humorous way?
“You shall love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Vayikra 19:18). We’ve been taught that this verse means that we should treat others the way we would want to be treated; however, if you look closer, this verse implies something else too. We are inherently commanded also to love ourselves. This doesn’t mean we should feel high and mighty throughout our lives. What this actually means is that we should give ourselves the respect we deserve. If one has self-respect, one also has the capacity to know, to understand, and to love others.
This is the intrinsic struggle of loving ourselves: we all have things we don’t love about ourselves, but we work on it. We want to improve or to simply move on (even though moving on is never so simple). In the words of Yanki Tauber:
I’m not unaware of my deficiencies; indeed, in a certain sense, I am more aware of them than anyone else. I want to improve myself, but I don’t think less of myself because I haven’t yet done so. I respect myself and I care for myself; I accept myself as I am, while incessantly striving to make myself better than I am. I love myself — truly, fully, in every sense of the word.”