After another successfully polished image of her “perfect” table setting was posted, Valerie set down her phone and let her family sit down to a now-cold, mostly home-cooked meal.
“How was school today?” she asked, smiling at her youngest son, Trevor, who picked at his meal.
Trevor looked up at her with unhappy eyes and said nothing. He was angry with his mom, who was supposed to pick him up from school earlier that day. She instead made him ride the bus, because she was too busy taking photos of her new living-room furniture to post online.
“How about you, honey? How was your day?” asked Valerie, looking at her husband, Josh.
He shook his head and replied, “It was just…just fine.” Josh stood up hastily, walked into the kitchen, and put his plate in the microwave. He slammed the microwave door shut, trying to make a statement to his wife, but unfortunately the gesture was lost on her. She was too busy trying to take a quick photo of the sunset through the window.
The two of them didn’t speak much to each other anymore. Valerie’s life online didn’t interest her husband, but that was all she wanted to talk about anymore.
Valerie scrolled through the photos she had posted, smiling at all the compliments she got from her followers. She felt like a celebrity and craved more of that feeling. From airbrushed photos of her “flawless” makeup to forced family moments, each photo gave her followers a small glimpse into her “perfect” life.
Her life online, though, was nothing but fake. She was so used to living these lies that she had started to believe her life was perfect.
One evening, her husband came home from work as she stood in the kitchen taking another selfie to share with her followers. Josh set his briefcase on the counter and walked up to her.
“Can we talk?” he asked with sadness in his eyes.
Valerie didn’t break eye contact with her phone and said, “Just a minute.”
Josh waited for a few minutes. “Seriously, Val, can we talk?”
Valerie broke her stare from her phone and said, “Oh my God, what!”
He looked at her with hurt eyes that began to well up with tears.
“Val…I want a divorce.”
Valery smirked. “What? What do you mean you want a div—”
“We haven’t been happy for a long time.”
“I have been happy,” said Valerie.
“OK, well I haven’t.”
The room was silent for a moment. “All you ever do anymore is spend time on your phone, and I’m sick of it. You care more about your followers than you do your own family. I am tired of being second place in your life.” Tears poured down Josh’s face.
Valerie looked at him shocked. “But—”
“Do you realize those photos you share aren’t even real? Where are the photos of you holding Trevor when he was born? You hide all the parts of your life that make it living.”
“I wasn’t even wearing makeup that day,” she said angrily.
“You were the most beautiful woman in the world that day.”
Stunned, she stood there, lost for words for a moment.
“I…I just want people t…to like me,” said Valerie as she looked at her husband through glazed eyes.
“But we, your family, like you. In fact, we love you. Isn’t that enough?”
Josh left the room, leaving her in an uncomfortable silence. Valerie picked up her phone from the counter and with shaking hands, scrolled through the photos. She felt as if she was seeing them through fresh eyes, and her husband was right. None of it was real. The photos were so polished and staged that, really, they were fake.
She held her phone up in front of her, clicked the camera icon, and looked at herself. Mascara lines ran down her face, and her eyes were puffy. She snapped a photo, and before she posted it, she wrote:
Thank you for always having my back. I feel like I haven’t been honest with you. I don’t always have perfect hair, and most days at home, I don’t even wear makeup. My home isn’t always clean and tidy, and sometimes my cooking doesn’t turn out. If it is OK with you, I would like to start sharing my real life with you—unedited, no-filter.
Fake: The Making of "Perfection"
Genre: Sentimental Drama
A social media star learns a hard lesson.