Influencers are body-editing their travel photos

and here’s why it matters

In today’s newsletter: body-editing travel photos, an exclusive discount for subscribers, and our latest feminist city guides. A special thanks to our paid subscribers for supporting this newsletter. With your paid subscriptions we’ve supported some incredible non-profits, including World Central Kitchen, Refugio Animal HolboxWomankindGirls Write NowWomen for WomenHeart of Dinner & Black Mamas Matter. If you’ve found your way here but are not yet subscribed, here, let me help you with that:

The first time I heard of travel influencers body-editing their photos, I was on a press trip somewhere in the Caribbean. I had struck up a conversation with a fellow traveler who had recently come across an influencer she learned was editing her body in pictures. The influencer (who will be left anonymous) had gotten into the controversial habit of trimming her waist before posting to Instagram. Whether she did this from societal pressure, insecurities, or something else entirely; I found it heart breaking that a woman would feel the need to distort her image so dramatically (and unnecessarily, I might add), particularly within the travel industry.

I had figured this was an isolated event, an unfortunate reality of one specific influencer, until a few months later when I came across another influencer doing the same thing. She too would trim her waist in photos, cut her thighs in half, and distort her body for the sake of Instagram likes. It was at this moment I realized body editing may not be an isolated event but rather, a trend. 

In recent years, body editing has bubbled to the surface of the fashion world. Reports of what editors cut from photos have shocked and angered thousands of readers. Wrinkles are expunged, belly fat is trimmed, and imperfections are eliminated — leaving the public with an impossible standard of beauty to strive for. Within the world of fashion— an industry heavily focused on outward appearance — it is expected that body editing would occur, but within the world of travel? In an industry focused on destinations, I wondered why influencers were focusing on altering their bodies.

Admittedly, I can be as guilty of editing my photos as the next person. I toy around with saturation. I up the contrast. I distort exposure to turn an otherwise lackluster travel photo into something brilliant. Yet in the years that I’ve worked within the travel space, it hasn’t occurred to me to edit my body in a photo. It’s not to say there aren’t things I’d like altered. With skin prone to breakouts and a short height of 5’4 inches, I can be as self conscious in a bikini as the next woman. In other words, I am a real person.

I spoke about this one day with one of my favorite travel bloggers, Amelia Goodhead of xameliax, who launched a self-help platform and published a book about freeing oneself from guilt called, How to Make Friends with Vampires. A few years back, Amelia — who is one of the UK’s top vloggers — posted a video about the ease of digital photo editing.

In her video, Amelia shows how influencers will use an app to edit a photo in under two minutes. Using her own bikini shot, Amelia does a tuck here, lift there, and suddenly her image looks different. The point of Amelia’s video is to shine light on the ease with which people can edit their bodies, and to show the reality behind social media. Her final message is to embrace who you are. As Amelia puts it, “if we were all the same, it would be pretty damn boring.”

Body editing within the travel space seems to be a symptom of a larger problem, which is the need to appear perfect in every photo we post. What once began as a narrative about discovering cultures has somehow morphed into a look-based endeavor; one where what a person is wearing is somehow more important than where they are. The impact of such curated perfection can have devastating consequences for young girls and impressionable women who struggle with insecurity. To counter this trend, platforms like Fat Girls Traveling have created a space to celebrate body positivity and encourage women to embrace their bodies. No filters needed.

While body editing is an unfortunate truth that will continue on in advertising and social media; in travel, at least, I hope we can forget about how one looks and focus, instead, on the destination behind them.

Showing travelers how to support women wherever they journey

Over the past few months, I’ve been working on updating and re-publishing Unearth Women’s feminist city guides. Because of the pandemic, many of the woman-owned restaurants, shops, and businesses that we featured have since closed. With every one of our 40+ guides requiring an update, I’ve decided to go through every single article and update the women-owned places we recommend and add any businesses we may have missed. Below are some of our newly re-published guides that are full of cool women-owned spots to support on your travels.

A Feminist City Guide to Athens

A Feminist City Guide to Portland

A Feminist City Guide to Havana

A Feminist Travel Guide to Wyoming

A Feminist City Guide to Montreal

Want to pitch us a feminist city guide? Check out our writer’s guidelines here.

here’s a little thank you for being a newsletter subscriber

I want to say THANK YOU to ALL of the subscribers to this newsletter who continue to read my words and, in some cases, even reach out to me to share their thoughts on the latest newsletter.

It is always surprising to me when someone other than my parents reads this newsletter, so thank you for sticking around following along all these months.

To say thank you, I want to offer an exclusive discount to Unearth Women’s online store where you can find women-designed totes, shirts, masks, and — of course — every single issue of Unearth Women magazine, both in digital and print.

Use the code NEWSLETTER for a 25% discount at check-out.

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Peach pie, the Delta variant, and why Gossip Girl sucks

READ this article from Fodor’s Travel about the rising Delta variant and what it means for your European travel plans. I edited this story this past week and found it to be VERY helpful in breaking down the ever-shifting travel restrictions for Europe.

LISTEN to this episode of The Daily from The New York Times, which looks at the current labor shortage in the United States and how employers are struggling to bring back minimum-wage workers. The episode is a really interesting look into the current state of the work-force in the United States and how the pandemic has fundamentally changed our collective approach to working.

BAKE this end-of-summer peach pie from Alison Roman, which uses honey, ginger, and lime. Roman’s recipes have single-handedly made me into a home cook, and I have yet to try a recipe of hers that disappoints.

DON’T WATCH the new Gossip Girl reboot. It’s absolutely ridiculous. The first iteration of Gossip Girl was absurd, but this new version is simply egregious. New York has an estimated 18 million+ people living here, so the idea that everyone would somehow be consumed by the happenings of some 15-year-old rich kids in a Manhattan prep school is hilarious.

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