For as long as I could remember, I used to resist taking pictures. As a normal-looking girl, I received a lot of unfriendly comments about my appearance when I was a child:  I was called "Miss White" because of my dark complexion; classmates laughed at my body when I gained weight due to meningitis; I was asked by my colleagues why I was not losing weight to look slim. These negative judgements about my body and appearance have never diminished.

I found a way to cope with these never ending comments; beauty editing apps. Thanks to these apps I was able to regain the confidence in my appearance back. One of the main things I would edit was the way my face is shaped. Because of its obvious asymmetry, I’ve always preferred the left side over the right side. Thus I would only make photos of the left side or I would reshape the asymmetry out. In other words, I have barely posted any un-beautified photo over the last 5 years.

Occasionally, I met an online friend in real and she said, "You look pretty in real life, but why do you always post the photos that are totally different from the real you?" Her words awaked me from an illusion made by beauty apps. For me, it had created a dystopia in which a person could not be real and should always be beautified, concluding in a crisis of self-identification. Am I in love with my beautified self or with who I really am?

To face my initial fear, I turned on my phone’s front camera and set up a new routine practice — taking a unedited front-face selfie everyday by using my personal practice as an agent of change.

Time is the key. At the beginning, I had insisted on documenting my front face for 12 days. After finishing these first 12 days, I concluded that my practice hadn’t worked. So I quit for a while.  Because of the outbreak of COVID-19 and the start of the quarantine and subsequent isolation, my passion to continue working on my mental health and self-care was evoked.  Thus I restarted my routine practice. I recognized some inconspicuous impact from inner to outer in 3 months.

Beauty editing no longer appears as merely a protection against, or covering of body shaming, but as a filter to fade our identity. We learned the standard for being a good-looking female from pop stars, fashion magazines and beauty contests. Not only that: we were taught by the people around us who follow conventional stereotypes. Following these standards — whitening and smoothing the skin, removing each spot and scar in our face by using an eraser toolkit — assist yourself in becoming a woman who fits established aesthetics and evokes a sense of security.

By seeing myself over the course of the experiment, I started with exploring my make-up and hair style. Besides that, I even did a live stream to expose my face in order to establish new self-confidence to face the public. I experienced moments of self doubt: I encountered haters who abused me by saying that “You’re so ugly”. It is an ongoing journey to develop and invest in the relationship between me and my body through exploring the direction and possibility of my appearance.

Like Witold Gombrowicz, a Polish writer, said: “I have had, you see, to resort more and more to very small, almost invisible pleasures, little extras .... You've no idea how great one becomes with these little details, it's incredible how one grows.”

>Gombrowicz, W. (1971). Cosmos (Mosbacker, E., Trans.) Paris: Gallimard Folio. Original work published as Kosmos (1965).<