Thinking out loud about beauty

Today’s post was inspired by the Amy’s in my life. Amy of Long Drive Journey is doing a feature on beauty today and she asked fellow bloggers and readers to submit a “raw” photo. Raw = no filters, no tricks, and if you’re brave enough, no makeup [please do go read iti! it is sersiouly amazing]. Here’s what she had to say when she asked announced it:

The healthy living community is full of women and men who care about eating healthy, exercising, and taking care of their bodies.  But with that being said, I think that from time to time we all struggle with being unhappy with ourselves.  It may be a struggle with body image.  It may also be a struggle with something internal.  Either way, things come up that hinder us from appreciating and accepting our beauty – just the way we are. The purpose of this feature is to show many beautiful faces and to encourage us all to see the raw beauty that is inside of us, no gimmicks, no unrealistic expectations. (Click for original post.)

I was nervous sending in my picture, but I find Amy so inspiring (I mean, did you read that? How could you not be inspired?), I love the message, and I’m used to sharing both the good and the bad on the internet. So deep breath, here is goes. No make-up, no hair, no filters, just a lot of… yeah.


Amy’s words got me thinking, especially since I recently had a similar conversation with Amy #2 (The Little Honey Bee). I mean, just look at how I described the picture I submitted – I analogized it to sharing the “bad,” which directly conflicts with the entire purpose of Amy’s feature (despite wearing my “Hello Gorgeous” shirt on purpose to support the positive message). I was literally cringing looking at it in this post. I fought the urge to shrink the size of the picture to lessen the impact. Fail.

Clearly, I have a lot of jumbled thoughts and feelings on this issue, especially lately. Jumbled thoughts are perfect for thinking out loud, so I’m linking up for the first time with Amanda from Running with Spoons.


Thinking out loud is exactly that. A chance to abandon the normal structure of writing and let things flow, even if they are all over the place, which this post most definitely is.

Let’s start with the pictures. Arman recently posted about how misleading photographs can be and as you saw above, Amy is showcasing photographs with no tricks. When I set out to take my pictures, I realized just how instinctive it is for me to maximize the chances that a picture will be flattering. This was especially startling because 1) I like to think I portray an honest version of myself in my photos, and 2) I was making a conscious effort NOT to use any of those tricks. But, I picked up the camera, held it at an angle and slightly elevated, I tilted my head to its best angle, I turned to my “better” side, and popped the other arm, and I did it all without even thinking. It wasn’t until I looked at the picture that I realized what I was doing.

So, I went back and retook them, but I thought it would be interesting to show you the difference.

IMG_4713Where you cut off the picture and how you hold the camera makes a difference. All I did for this one was flip and rotate the phone.

IMG_4715And here’s that lifted camera, arm pop, and head tilt. I didn’t change anything else (other than smiling).

IMG_4717Is this using tricks? Kind of. I like the last picture because I feel like it’s a more accurate representation of what I see when I look in the mirror. But I think the point is that we are all beautiful from all angles, even in bad lighting, even without makeup. And, along the lines of Arman’s post, it’s important to remember that what you see on facebook, instagram, and blogs are the pictures that people CHOOSE to share, which usually means they are the best of at least several shots. If you don’t believe what a difference these little changes can make, you should look at this post.

I try not to post pictures that are so flattering that they don’t reflect reality, but I also don’t post pictures that are clearly unflattering.

Let’s take it to the bigger picture. I have a confession to make. I care about how I look. *collective gasp* I know! I’m a healthy living blogger, I’m supposed to have evolved to a state of enlightenment beyond such petty concerns. Well, I haven’t. We’re only supposed to care about health and self-love, not physical appearance. If you’re a regular reader, you know I am 100% on board with those messages. But that doesn’t mean my appearance is irrelevant to me. To be honest, as much as I really and truly love and adore the blogging community, I also feel a lot of pressure to not care about how I look. And sometimes that makes me feel inferior, and for that matter, vain.

I care and I always will. If I didn’t I wouldn’t wear makeup or blow-dry my hair or spend so much money on clothes (it’s not really that much, but you can bet I’d spend more if I had more). The good news is, I don’t care as much as I used to. I used to care TOO much. I still care more than I should (I have days where I’m painfully insecure about things that would probably make your eyes roll), but I’m proud of how far I’ve come over the past two years or so. It doesn’t control me the way it once did, and I can genuinely say that the majority of the time, I treat myself with love and kindness the way I believe everyone should.

There’s a difference between caring about how you look and obsessing about it. There’s a difference between being happy and content with what you see in the mirror and mentally abusing yourself and letting that abuse affect your self worth.

It’s ok to want to be beautiful. The important thing to realize is that you already are.

No questions, just your thoughts.

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12 comments on “Thinking out loud about beauty

  1. Amy @ Long Drive Journey

    This is so true, Kim. To be honest with you, at first I found MYSELF attempting to get the most flattering angle for my picture. My first instinct was that I needed to rip apart my picture to prove a point. I was going to talk about the hairs out of place, my chapped lips, etc, etc…then I came to my senses. It’s not about picking myself apart any more than it is about trying to look perfect. I care about it to. I spent twenty minutes just trying to get my hair in a bun that I liked yesterday morning. I was late for work. I didn’t care. But you’re right – I’m not going to obsess about it. For what it’s worth, I think all the pictures you showed are beautiful. I think your yoga poses are absolutely GORGEOUS. But being raw certainly doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with fixing your hair and girlying it up! 🙂
    Amy @ Long Drive Journey recently posted…Raw BeautyMy Profile

    1. BusyBod Post author

      As usual, I feel like you are right on and described the balance perfectly. And thank you for the kind words about my pictures, both raw and yoga. <3

  2. Alex @ Kenzie Life

    This was a great post, Kim! I think you’re gorgeous and I think it was really brave of you to post pictures without makeup because I’d be really nervous to do that myself. Caitlin @ Healthy Tipping Point did a series a few years ago, I think it was called the The Naked Face Project and she went for a few months without makeup. it was really interesting. I know that I use makeup as a way to mitigate some of the insecurities I still struggle with, but I also really love makeup and I think it’s a fun way to express myself. Still, that’s not the only reason I wear it. I agree that there’s a difference between caring about what you look like and obsessing over it. Thanks for writing so bravely about it.
    Alex @ Kenzie Life recently posted…Body-Image Hypocrisy: A Backwards Story of Body-LoveMy Profile

    1. BusyBod Post author

      Thank you so much! I think it’s definitely a balance, but it’s all about being self aware and knowing when you are motivated by positive or negative emotions.

  3. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    That last line is absolutely beautiful… as is your whole post 🙂 I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting to look good and take care of yourself — it shows that you see yourself as something that’s worth putting time and effort into. I also find it kind of funny that we look at pictures of ourselves and only focus on our perceived flaws, when others look at our pictures and don’t even notice the things we obsess over. You’re gorgeous, lady! In all the pictures you posted 🙂
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. thinking out loud #63 .My Profile

    1. BusyBod Post author

      Thank you so much! I could not agree more. I often wonder what it would be like to hear the true reactions of other people. I think everyone would be surprised by what others see, but our inner critics tell us they are just being nice, when in reality they see beyond our own nitpicking to the real whole person.

  4. Arman @ thebigmansworld

    ….are you wearing a Santa hat in the first picture 😉

    I loved your perception and take on this Kim- there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good or showing the best sides of ourselves- most will never admit it! Amen for all to realise while we may perceive ourselves to have imperfections, we are already a canvas of beauty.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted…He thinks…out loud #4My Profile

    1. BusyBod Post author

      It’s my off-season look 😉 And I love this -> “we are already a canvas of beauty” SO well said.

  5. Jan @ Sprouts n Squats

    I think you look great in all the photos! I am in awe too of you doing this and not being afraid. I think so many bloggers say they don’t care how they look but deep down it can be tough for anyone to not care on some level what they look like.

    I think light, angles, make up and photoshop portray an unrealistic expectation when used in the media as it is. Love that your demo shows how it can make a difference (minus photoshop)
    Jan @ Sprouts n Squats recently posted…Friday FavouritesMy Profile

    1. BusyBod Post author

      Thank you so much Jan you are so kind. 🙂 It’s amazing to me what a difference angles alone can make. I think this is so easy for people to forget, even though we experience it every day. We’ve all seen pictures of ourselves from a “bad” angle, so obviously there are “good” angles too!


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