by Stephanie Self



One of William Shakespeare’s most famous sonnets, Sonnet 130, depicts a woman, presumably Billy Shakes’ lover, who is, well, I’m just going to say it: ugly.

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; / Coral is far more red than her lips’ red; / If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; / If hair be wires, black wires grow on her head. / I have seen roses damask’d, red and white, / But no such roses see I in her cheeks; / And in some perfumes is there more delight / Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks. / I love to hear her speak, yet well I know / That music hath a far more pleasing sound; / I grant I never saw a goddess go; / My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. / And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare.”

Now, I know Billy here is considered a “legend” and “genius,” but if it were me he had been writing about, I would have been completely offended. It’s like, what the hell, man? You really think I want to be known as that chick you wrote about who was a complete uggo? If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you must have a really shitty eye for beauty. As a woman, and therefore a perpetual muse for basically every art form ever, it is my responsibility to maintain a strict standard of perfection. Yeah, yeah, he loves her despite her homeliness, but what is love worth when you can be worshiped for your beauty? And even if it’s “manufactured” beauty (as so many of these loud-mouthed feminists call it), who’s going to tell the difference? Only you, that’s who!

Having said that, I find it awfully unfortunate that I am one of few women who remain thankful that I live in a world in which Photoshop exists. Being a woman in this world is hard enough, but how would we ever live up to the high expectations of being an infinite muse without something like Photoshop? Is it easier to live with the body you were given and risk killing yourself working to get the body that you will never have? No way. It is way easier to go through reality as Shakespeare’s uggo and have Photoshop do the rest. Young and impressionable girls no longer have to live in a world in which their selfies may actually project a realistic image of themselves.

Where would so many brilliant and successful male artists be without the inspiration of a nubile young woman giving him a vacant, expressionless stare that says nothing except “I know you only like women who don’t have any ideas, especially those about their own sexual choices.” I can hear the breathy whisper now, which I imagine sounds like an echo reverberating throughout the vacuum that is her brain.

Can I just be really honest for a second? Women look better this way. And by “this way,” I’m totally talking about the vacant, come hither stare. (By the way, is there nothing more amazing than the “selfie”? Now we can practice being mindless muses all we want without anyone else’s help! What an age to live in!)

There have been numerous crusades against the exorbitant use of Photoshop in modeling photography, which have been spearheaded by various blogging websites, such as Jezebel, Upworthy and Buzzfeed. They seem to think that the use of Photoshop to make women thinner, less hairy, to make them have larger and less veiny eyes, lighter and clearer skin (no freckles allowed!), bigger and perkier boobs, plumper butts, sleeker and more voluminous hair, and (above all) smaller vulvas is disrespectful and unethical. (If any of you have seen the Target ad for a teen swimsuit that I’m referring to, then you know it’s just a shame that the jagged remnants of the young girl’s crotch could still be seen.)

If you refer to the two photos above, you can see that all of my uggo-indicators have vanished with a few augmentations. My generally hairy arms are thinned out and perfectly hairless — totally saved a trip to that expensive laser hair removal place. My distracting freckles are gone — guys care about this kind of stuff, ladies. My gigantic pores have been airbrushed so that I have that sleek, android look — now I never have to worry about whether or not science will develop enough for me to become a cyborg. My favorite is the removal of those nasty red veins in my eyes. I was seriously struggling with how to fix that one.

I’ve heard this whole spiel about self-love and self-acceptance, but I usually just say, “when your last name is Self, everybody else does that for you.” ZING!

Jokes aside, that “learning to love yourself” stuff is hard work. I mean, I’m a woman and therefore already have a hard enough time understanding the world. Cut me some slack! Live immortally in an image that allows you to be remembered how society wants to see you, how they wish you were, instead of documenting how gross you really are.

Stephanie Self studies English. She can be reached at