Then and now: Celebs give flashback to reality
PARENTS are being urged to refrain from praising children's looks to avoid creating an "appearance culture" at home, while some well-known Queenslanders delve into their private photo albums to show it's okay to be awkward.
Experts say social media is putting pressure on children to look perfect in photographs from birth. They warn making any comment - even a positive one - about appearance could be detrimental.
To help smash the stigma around imperfection, some high-profile Queenslanders have released their own less-than-perfect photos to The Courier-Mail.
The identities include radio personality Robin Bailey, swimming champion Mitch Larkin, newsreader Jonathan Uptin, NRL star Sam Thaiday and partner Rachel and politician John-Paul Langbroek.
Brisbane psychologist Judith Locke said that while dorky pictures were once a rite of passage for teenagers, the pressure to be perfect in pictures was now starting at birth, with parents feeling pressure from the online community to have cute kids.
"It's for the benefit of other people," she said.
Griffith University psychologist Haley Webb said even making positive comments about a child's appearance could be harmful to their development.
"Although there might be this huge temptation to try to tell someone that they are pretty, that their dress looks lovely, in fact not focusing on it at all is what is recommended," she said.
"If I'm the parent, (I shouldn't) talk about my weight, my appearance, but instead focus on where I am putting my efforts, what my interests are, and my skills. The same goes for children.
"You don't want to contribute to an appearance culture in your household."
Triple M breakfast radio presenter Robin Bailey, pictured in Year Four with "buck teeth and thick, dodgy glasses", said seeing teenagers live their lives online made her sad.
"When was the last time you saw a 16-year-old just doing a clown face or something silly (for a photo)?," she said.
"Think about what anxiety (that pressure to be perfect) must produce."
Bailey said her own experience with social media as an adult gave her an insight to the stress younger generations were feeling.
"A friend of mine suggested I start doing 'outfit of the day' posts, but I found I became so paranoid and worried about putting together an outfit that I stopped," she said.
"I love fashion and shopping but that's for me and this felt as though I was asking others for approval and it was a really superficial world I was living in.
"It makes me wonder how these poor (teenage) girls in particular are coping with all of that."
Opposition health spokesman John-Paul Langbroek, who shared a photograph of himself the 1970s sporting "big hair, big tie, a body shirt", said it was time to get beyond the outward appearance.
"That is something as a society we have got to come to terms with," he said.
"Everyone has their own self-worth and none of those things should matter.
"But until young people can have the confidence to be a little bit different, then we are going to have this issue that it has to have the perfect filter, a photo has to look perfect and your clothes have to fit in with someone else's expectations when that shouldn't be the case at all."
The Courier-Mail's Kylie Lang has released a photograph of herself at 17 on exchange in Tokyo.
"Here I was, ridiculous, shy and barely able to breathe with the stiffness of the obi (sash), but I guess expectations have always been placed on us to look a certain way," she said.
"Ultimately though, how we experience life is up to us, and I loved this time."
Dr Locke said rather than looking for reassurance, trying to have a sense of humour about themselves was key for teenagers.
"If you can't laugh at yourself in some way then that is not a very healthy way to view the ups and downs of your life," she said.
"We don't always have to be pristine and perfect."