One of our favorite up and coming singers, Kevin Garrett, (yes, the one who wrote “Pray You Catch Me” off Beyoncé’s Lemonade) has a knack of turning heartbreak into pop gold, like some kind of musical alchemist. Last year he released a song called “Precious”—no relation to the movie. On it, he sings of a breakup and the refrain resonates with us. Sure, the melody and message strikes an emotional chord, but the message he relays to his ex-lover re: their coming undone ALSO applies to every social media enthusiast, blogger, marketer, fashionista, influencer, what have you. His words should be a mantra for you. Don’t know them? We used them for the headline of this article: Don’t be so precious about it.

Follow us on this one. Yes, we know. You want to leave a long-lasting impression; you want to relay images and ideas that represent your best self or your brand in the most flattering light. (We know how FOMO works.) But like, Garrett sings, it’s important to be a little bit revealing. Pull back the curtain. We’re not playing poker here. Show us your hand.   

Here’s why: Look at the below picture of our founder, Josh Lekach.

On the left you’ll find we took the bags out from under his eyes. (Don’t judge: Start-ups require long hours.) On the right is the image untouched. One makes you look like an airbrushed, soulless ghoul; the other is 100% real. He’s handsome (and relatively youthful), so maybe this isn’t the best example—but you get the idea. We’ve seen some extreme versions of retouching, and we’d be really stoked if that trend ended once and for all. Why? Because the photo on the right is humanizing. We can’t stress this enough: In order to bear influence (aka be an influencer), you need to be relatable; otherwise, how will anyone connect with you? That’s what’s at the core of brand loyalty.

So. How do you do that? By not being so precious about your self-image and by extension, your posts. This isn’t about body image or empowerment, or shaming, or ageism or any other isms. It’s about revealing yourself as you are and enabling your followers to say, Hey! Me too! I’m like that. 

What about the pop stars and the movie stars, you say? What about the Kardashians? They Photoshop the heck out of their photos AND they seem to be doing just fine!

Well guys, you’re right. They do these things. Despite the internet/gossip rags best efforts to criticize all the weirdly taboo, natural signs of aging or imperfection—wrinkles are smoothed out, waists are slimmed, etc. But the connection anyone has with these people isn’t based on the images put forth; it’s founded on the character they reveal throughout the course of their careers, and in their actions. But you, dear influencer, don’t have the platform they have to let these messages known. All you have is your social media profile, and through that, it’s imperative to (say it with us) not be “so precious about it.” Own it!

But then you might come back again and say, Hey, what about the godfather of pop art? Mr. Campbell’s Soup Guy? Andy Warhol? He predicted we’d all have our fifteen minutes of fame, so he must know something …and—he also said this:

When I did my self-portrait, I left all the pimples out because you always should. Pimples are a temporary condition and they don’t have anything to do with what you really look like. Always omit the blemishes—they’re not part of the good picture you want.”

Our answer would be the same one we gave you above. It’s great to curate your social media profile and put your best foot forward. As we said previously, you’ve got to be able to express what makes you great and why anyone should pay attention. But (there’s always a but)—when you do that; when you’re documenting your day and taking a picture—especially when it’s of yourself (product photography doesn’t necessarily apply), take a moment when combing through the images before posting to entertain the notion of uploading a more revelatory image. Let your guard down just a little bit. Step out of your comfort zone. We’re sure you’ll warm up to it. And we’d bet the farm your followers will react positively to it!

In closing, we’d be remiss if we didn’t remind you that all of this is just a rule of thumb. It’s not set in stone, you’re free to agree or disagree. We’re not looking to have a debate. All we know is: Too much retouching makes you look like an anime character, and that’s most assuredly not what you want. Unless you identify as an anime character and super-duper want all your followers to think of you as one …in which case, have at it—just don’t be so precious about it.