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.
Is 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.