The Unapologetic Matrix Self
Something that Needs to Be Said RE: AI / Photoshop / Filters - "Go for it! & Here's Why!"
Someone posted recently their frustrations over AI photos used in profiles and marketing materials and challenged authenticity of people who use them. After thinking to myself, “I don’t have enough eye rolls left for this today!” I discovered I had quite a lot to say on the matter which prompted me to come back and finish and publish this post. Warning! My sci-fi geek might show itself a little in the following
Have you seen the move, “The Matrix”? Or any of the following movies (except that last one they did recently - just say no to that one!) If you haven’t, rather than me take up this precious real estate to explain it, you can watch a scene from it here that explains the project self and the Matrix. (And you might cringe next time you hear about some new AI coming online.) Keep reading below.
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Ok. Caught up? I believe that my core self may not match the person in the mirror - especially as I get older. My self-image is the one you see in my marketing materials, my profile photos, etc. It is probably more authentic than a bathroom selfie - and that has something to do with your perception which I will explain more on later.
Photoshop and filters and air brushing have been helping professionals, artists, actors, etc put their best face forward for decades. Women have been wearing makeup that clearly alters their appearance for much longer. Men often comment about how makeup is the great deception. And for as long as that’s been going on, we have been judged according to our appearance and anyway we attempt to modify it. In the old days a woman was considered to be a particular way if she wore red lipstick! Red - a color that looks good with any skin tone! THAT is the color that is supposed to indicate if she’s down with getting down? Seriously? Can I borrow an eye roll from someone, please? I’m all out of mine today!
The thread I referred to in my opening statement, it was started by someone criticizing how people use AI and then are almost unrecognizable in their live streams. From the people in the comments of that thread, words were thrown about like “smoke and mirrors” and “sham” and “flim flam".” None of those people had profile photos that were without makeup, by the way. I guess these people didn’t see The Matrix or don’t understand the concept of projected self: who we believe ourselves to be. More often than not, that does not match who we see in the mirror. In the mirror we may see aging, scars from childhood accidents or trauma, bald head due to disease or medicine that is trying to save us, a need for expensive dental work that has nothing to do with drug abuse (apparently according to the trolls on the Internet, only meth users have bad teeth or a lack of flossing)… and that is a far more sad thing in my own experience to not recognize the person in the mirror that not recognizing someone in their live stream!
I don’t live stream. When I do coaching, it’s audio only on zoom because video is too distracting for me to do my best coaching - it has nothing to do with me hiding something. I will have an audio podcast soon. When I do training / workshops, I do my best to minimize my face in the videos. Why? I am going to share a story with you in just a few minutes that is deeply personal and holds a pain for me that is deep to my core.
But first, I have some questions around this authenticity and integrity that people seem so concerned about.
Anyone here ever get duped into spending hundreds of dollars because they were “sold” by a sales page with all the bells and whistles, carefully cultivated copy and images, the “right” formulate/template and NLP and all the things designed to gain the sale only to end up with something worth maybe 50 bucks? Where does that land when we are talking about authenticity or integrity?
What about making connections with people or sliding into their comments or baiting them into an engagement post only because you want to sell to them - not because you really care to see them or know them as a person - just the dollars in their wallet? Where does this land on the authenticity / integrity scale?
What about the coach on the first day of coaching, never had a client, never made money in coaching, jump on the scene selling a high ticket program showing you how to sell to high end clients… showing her high end lifestyle (paid for by a very successful husband or inheritance or whatever - not by her coaching as she would have you to believe) and bragging that she was trained by ivy league and tech schools knowing you’ll assume she has a degree or certificate from them when only she took ONE unaccredited class from there… or the one who brags they were ‘featured’ on some prestigious website (Forbes, CNN, etc) but fail to inform you that the “feature’ was an AD! Their ad showed up on the site. Authentic? Integrity?
Whoever is coaching coaches to do this really needs to stop! These are the things I loathe about our industry.
Not in the industry? Ok. How about the cancer patient who wears a wig? The woman who wears makeup? Someone who gussies up before going out? Or before meeting someone new? Do we question or judge them for wanting to put their best face forward? Or do we harp on things like authenticity or integrity?
AI is a tool and I don’t know what the cost is for a photographer, hair, makeup, and fashion team to prep you, photograph you, airbrush you - produce you for your marketing materials - no idea what that costs these days. But for AI to do it - it ranges from about $17 and up. It saves you both money and time and the hassles of being fussed over and posed and trying to get the lighting right, the golden hour, location, getting the weather to cooperate and so on.
I wish the world would accept us without makeup. It’d be so much easier. I would blame men for this; but I really think women care so much more about this than men ever did.
Ever seen obituaries of someone in their fifties and the photo is a Glamour Shots photo from the 80’s? (If you don’t know what that is, you might be too young for this blog - ha!) The subject of the obit probably chose that photo because it’s how she saw herself! Some use their senior yearbook photos. Those are the photo’s that best represent their core selves.
Someone pegged me as an authenticity coach - and for the lack of a better word, “authenticity” has remained in some of my marketing, etc. But it’s not really authenticity on a surface level. It’s the core-self level. Who you know yourself to be at your core. Sometimes, we don’t see that in the mirror. So, when it comes time to market our services or social media or blog or whatever, we borrow that confidence and use photos that are filtered / photoshopped / air brushed or produced by AI. My photo is the super confident me. Not worried about acne or frizzy hair or the weird nasty brown color mixed in with my beautiful gray hair. And that is me! I might be borrowing a wee bit of confidence from AI to put my business out there and use my best face to do so - but it is me. And I am not going to apologize for it! When I see this photo - I see me. And so do my friends who have known me for a long time. So, I’m not delusional ha! Now, if I looked at my photo and thought “Oh yeah, this will reel those fishies in and I will fry them up in my pan of NLP salesy desire so they will want to spend all of their money with me -they will never know this isn’t’ really me! Until it’s too late” - then that might be a little less authentic - lol! I don’t want that kind of attraction going on - I’d stay too busy deleting/block followers who are widowed surgeons or generals trapped overseas needing me to wire them money to get home! ha!
For the curious, these are also photos that I see and I see me! Me with the camera was 2011, me in the hat was a couple of years ago, the one with me on the tracks with the camera was in 1999. I am real. There’s also a story behind those photos you don’t see - why they are so precious to me, what was going on in my life at the time they were taken, etc. There is a reason we choose the photos we choose that mean something to us.
I follow a lot of people on Instagram who are one-man - or in this case - one-woman bands who cultivate a HUGE following and then they shed light and expose people for the asshats that they are or bring something to light that needs some public outcry or support, etc. One woman is just a genuine soul with a heart for others. She is well-loved. She is also a cancer survivor. And chemo destroyed her teeth. So, in her videos you can see she’s got dental issues going on - broken and missing teeth. The trolls found her and made comments like “May I suggest some floss?” and “Why would I follow or believe a meth user. Get help!” She started doing her videos behind masks. It was hard to hear her - it dulled down her message and finally a supporter who knew of her situation urged her to tell her story and set up a fund me site to pay for her dental work to be repaired. And she did - and those trolls ended up earning her the money she needed to get her teeth repaired and she’s back to doing videos unmasked and making more impact.
I was completely undone by her story. First, I learned that people will assume you are a meth user or don’t know how to floss if you have bad teeth & they love to troll you about it online.
When I was in high school, I had braces. I won’t go into the long story behind how that came to be and how I should never have had braces. I had gorgeous thick white enamel teeth. The glue for the braces did not stick to them. They all popped off within an hour or two. So, I had to go back and unknown to us, the orthodontist used an experimental glue to get them to stick. For all we know it was superglue or Gorilla glue. When it was time for the braces to come off, they ripped off my enamel with them. I was devastated. The braces had already been an ordeal in itself and now this? What good was it gonna be to have straight teeth if they weren’t beautiful. My parents refused to sue the orthodontist nor did they get me veneers or anything cosmetic to correct the appearance and from that day I have lived in silence with this incredibly deep pain over my appearance when it comes to my teeth. And if you could see the tears streaming down my face now, you’d probably feel the depth of just how deep this goes. This is why I don’t talk about this often at all.
Dental work is expensive. I lived a majority of my childhood in the dentist chair. My parents would be rich had it not been for all of my dental issues ha! People would say my family was rich. My parents would play it down and tell us no we aren’t. They were kind enough to say, I guess, they weren’t rich because us kids were so expensive haha I imagine I was! When my parents refused to sue the orthodontist or correct the damage because it was cosmetic and you know, vanity! (Apparently, we were in Abnegation in the Divergent alternate universe - a reference to Divergent, a favorite movie.) My dentist who was also an orthodontist when I was an adult in my 20’s told me he strongly discouraged patients from getting braces before they were 21 because their teeth keep moving - guess who had crooked teeth again?). He also was horrified to learn of my previous braces experience and discover the damage done to my teeth. He told me I needed veneers to protect them - but they were just too expensive. When I was 31, my teeth began breaking off - beginning with my front top row teeth. I did not want to leave my room. I was devastated. I was divorced. My parents sent me to their dentist and I ended up having all of my top teeth pulled including the wisdom teeth. And the bottom teeth except for the front teeth which were to anchor my partial. I had to get them done by an oral surgeon under anesthesia because the wisdom teeth had roots wrapped up against a nerve.
So, I have a top denture that is yellow in color which really pissed me off because I wanted my beautiful white enamaled looking teeth back -and the dentist insisted they needed to match the bottom teeth. I’m tired of losing arguments when it coems to my teeth lol! And, I have a lower partial. The partial would not stay in place. When I went back in - they told me to glue it - and every glue on the market broke me out in fierce ulers all along my gums and they spread to my throat. I also couldn’t talk with them or eat with them. They are somewhere in a container in my closet and I just don’t wear the bottom partial anymore. I currently need to have the remaining teeth pulled but can’t - I’ve been told the bottom dentures are even worse than my partial and I really need implants to install the bottom denture for any hope of sanity - plus, if I have to get full bottom dentures - I’m getting new top dentures and they are gonna be white - so I don’t have that kind of money and I don’t think my jaw bone at this point will even support an implant anyway - so I’m hoping the teeth hold out enough that I can continue to eat solid food. And, I wish I was joking. My painful gastric issues are partially caused by my inability to completely chew food before I swallow it.
And now you know why I don’t do livestreams. I have other reasons for that as well - I can’t focus - too many things to worry with tech, chats, etc. I can produce training - and I make sure my face is minimized or non-existent in those videos.
I’m not trying to hide me. I’m just trying to hide my mouth and maybe escape blatantly wrong assumptions about my authenticity or drug use (I don’t use drugs just to be clear) or access to floss. The dentures and not wearing anything on the bottom have caused that lower jaw to sag - and that is something else I’m pretty self-conscious about. But, it’s outside of my control. That’s why you see me in my photos in a profile format rather than looking straight on.
But this is me on a fairly good day - except for an inflammation response to summer in the mountains… I have some acne, and my double chin is making an appearance and I’m in a hat that screams tourist with my son. This photo was taken this past summer.
I’m still a great coach. I still have a heart for others. I crave genuine connection. I’m here to serve.. in spite of dental issues. But if that was the first photo I showed you - i was smiling with open mouth or talking on a reel and laughing with wide open mouth for you to clearly see the dental issues - all those things that I am known for and know myself to be true at my core will never see the light of day. That first impression is made and the moment is gone.
So, please, hold the judgment over me for borrowing the confidence of my AI filtered images and let me just be me and do my thing.
If you need help on letting that core self out, I’d love to be your guide.
In the meantime, have an amazing weekend! I’d love to hear your perspective in comments!
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