“She’s so photogenic!”, we say when we see a woman with a beautiful instagram grid full of selfies. “I wish I looked that good in my candid pictures” we groan, as these women look effortlessly flawless. Happy and glistening as they workout or sip coffee.
At least, these are words I say to myself, when I’m trying to take my own pictures.
There are so many intricate feelings going on in this one moment of taking a picture of myself. As little as it might seem, the layers of insecurities, anxieties, fears of judgement, self depreciation, and desire for acceptance are canyons thick.
Let me start with me personally.
For all of my life, I have hated posing for pictures. Throughout my childhood, during the time of film rolls and camcorders, I remember running away from being recorded. The dread of being asked to take a picture alone. To this day, I still run and hide at the sight of a camera lens in my direction. A photoshoot would take a lot of mental preparation and pushing through very awkward smiles and unnatural poses. Every shot, every video, would bombard my mind with:
How would I look?
How will I sound?
What will people think of me?
Do I look fat?
Do I look silly?
Am I embarrassing myself?
While it seemed that everyone else looked beautiful on the spot, I felt like I had to take one hundred pictures before I liked one. The one picture I did like, I felt insecure showing to the world without at least three different filters on it.
A filter to erase the imperfections.
A filter to brighten my skin
A filter that thins the face and enlarges the eyes
Showing my body…FORGET ABOUT IT
There wasn’t really a filter to filter out my insecurities of being overweight.
All of this may seem so very, how can I say? … insignificant, when compared tothe vast issues of the world, but it’s actually a really big dent in how we live our lives. It was and IS debilitating. It was a fear to be myself. It was a fear for others to see me as I was. It was a dislike of who I was on the outside and the ideas of what beautiful was from social expectations.
It really didn’t hit me, how bad it was until dun. dun. dun. – snapchat.
I only felt beautiful when I was a cartoon dog. I only felt like my picture was worth being shown to the world with filters that lightened my skin and thinned my face. Even if that meant, my face was transformed into a unicorn or given a halo of butterflies, or contacts that turned my brown eyes grey. How can I say I feel beautiful when it isn’t even me that I present as my profile picture?
This revelation really made me think.
My profile picture will be me. The pictures I post will be me. I will not allow myself to live my life behind a filter, to be afraid to show the world who I really am unless I hide behind a mask. I won’t let myself trick anyone else into feeling insecure. Trick someone else into thinking that I am effortlessly flawless because snapchat made my skin clear, made my eyelashes long, made my cheeks thin.
If you, in anyway feel the insecurities that I feel, the fears that I feel. I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know that you are so beautiful and that it’s society and social expectations that make us feel like we are less than and undesirable. I want you to know that you do not need the filters and one hundred takes before you find a perfect picture because you should love yourself the way that you are.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve had some kind of inspirational transformation, some light bulb moment, and that now I can say “F what anyone thinks, this is my face and here it is, it is beautiful.” But I haven’t. My confidence and my self love is still a work in progress. I’ve decided to work on the things that make me feel less beautiful, instead of hiding behind a filter. I’ve been working on getting healthier and building a skin routine. I have my good weeks and my bad weeks, but I think being aware and putting effort is a good start.
I still battle every picture to feel beautiful. I still feel insecure without make up. I still like a filter or two. But, at least it is still me.
Not a dog
Not a unicorn
Not some mystical mermaid
One day I will beat this battle to feel BEAUTIFUL enough for a picture.
I will be Bare faced and beautiful
I will be flaws and all beautiful
I will amazon warrior this battle to feel beautiful
And I will be proud of it.