I'm going to be honest here - this may be one of the most difficult blog posts I've ever written. Why? Because I'm going to share that insecure side of me that I keep deeply hidden. The only comfort I have is knowing that every other woman in the world shares many of the same insecurities and hides them as deep as I do. So today, right now, I'm going to do the heavy lifting for all of us. Social Media....
I think most of you will agree that it is both a blessing and a curse. How great is it that we get to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances near and far on a daily basis? We get glimpses into their lives that we would not get if social media did not exist. On the down side, this atmosphere of voyeurism has created a fake perception of reality.
From Instagram to Facebook we are constantly bombarded with everyone's seemingly perfect lives. Jane just got married to the most amazing guy, Sarah's children are gorgeous and never misbehave, Tara lives a life of luxury traveling the world for her dream job and Christy just lost 25 pounds doing Crossfit and looks ridiculously fantastic. What we don't see are all the life clips which have been selectively edited out. Jane went on hundreds of horrific dates for YEARS before finding "the one", Sarah's children whine, cry and throw temper tantrums just like everyone else's, Tara spends 1/2 her life at airports and hotels and is extremely lonely most of the time and Christy has had more downs then ups on her very long health journey. We don't see this because most folks curate their lives on social media and portray only the news-worthy good.
I GET why people do this - heck, I do it too. Who wants to know that my morning was shit, I screamed at my kids, had a fight with my husband and am wearing two different colored socks today?
But here is the problem with our social utopia. When we see these perfect lives day in and day out we start thinking that something is wrong with us and our imperfect lives. This is especially true when it comes to our self esteem. Let's be honest - how many selfies do you need to take before you find that perfect one? The one where you look 10 pounds thinner and your expression is perfect?
Social media may be more of a detriment to us women than fashion magazines ever were. At least with the fashion magazines we could just blame the editors for using only use size 0 models. We can't do that with social media. Social media shows us REAL people - one's we know personally! This increases our need to measure up more so than ever before.
I see it every single day. Women everywhere are beating themselves up about their physical appearance and non-perfect life. We are in an ever lasting quest to find the perfect makeup, hairstyle, diet or exercise program to improve our exterior (and therefore our interior) and we are HARD on ourselves. Really hard. Unrealistically hard. Damaging hard.
Here's Where I Get Real....
I am guilty. I turned 45 this year. FORTY-FIVE!!!! I'm at the top of the hill, getting ready for the decent. Crap. This year I spent a small fortune on expensive makeup, wrinkle creams and other magical treatments that promise to reverse (or at least hide) the signs of my aging skin and body. Over the past few years I have successfully gained about 20 extra pounds. Between the age and weight, I struggle with mirrors every damn day of my life.
Last week I started advertising for a Mother's Day Makeover Session. In my post I say how as Moms, we need to take time and embrace ourselves. As a photographer I am constantly boosting women's self esteem by capturing beautiful images of them - images they didn't think were possible....but you rarely catch me on the other side of the lens. Ok, I'll admit - I'm a hypocrite. As a matter of fact, I typically HIDE from cameras. Show me a picture of myself and I spiral down the "I'm fat, old & ugly" hole. It took EVERYTHING I had to suck it up and get the PhotoPass when we went to Disney because I knew that meant I would be in every picture. EVERY PICTURE! Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. (In the end I did it, but not for me, for my kids - because that's what Mom's do, suck it up and do it for the kids, right?)
The truth is, aside from Disney, my family hasn't had formal pictures taken in years. Want to hear my excuses.... (they may sound familiar)
"I'll take family pictures when I lose the weight." "I don't look good in photos." "I hate seeing how old I look." "I'm afraid I'm going to hate myself more than I already do." "I don't want to see that double chin."
Terrible right? If I'm not willing to even take family photos, how can I ask women to invest in pictures of just THEM? Yup, I'm a hypocrite.
Let's play psychologist and analyze this. I KNOW that I am my own worst enemy. Sure, I need to lose some weight, but I've always been on the heavier side and that never stopped me before - there has to be something else. You know what the problem is? Like so many other Moms I put myself LAST. Before I had kids I spent more time on myself. I took the time to blow dry and style my hair every single day. I took time to apply my makeup nicely. I spent money on a nice wardrobe and I wore heels. HEELS! Ha! I took time to enjoy a paint class, go out with my friends for a drink, had date night with my husband.... And you know what? I was CONFIDENT. And that confidence is EVERYTHING. Nowadays I rarely style my hair, my makeup application is a joke and my everyday wardrobe consists of sneakers, yoga pants, a few pairs of jeans and a handful of comfy shirts and sweatshirts. The worst thing...I hadn't had a haircut in almost a YEAR! That's just ridiculous, isn't it? Last week, after months of procrastinating I finally splurged and got a haircut. And you know what? I walked out of that salon feeling like a million bucks. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in a window and actually stopped to take a second look. I haven't felt that good in a LONG time. And that was JUST a haircut!
The A-Ha Moment....
The bottom line is that we can feel good about ourselves TODAY. NOW, if we let ourselves. We need to stop comparing ourselves and our lives to our friends and family on Social Media. We need to dedicate that time and energy into ourselves and our own families. Focus on what makes us happy and not care about what others think or do. When we do that something magical can happen...
Yesterday morning, as I was getting ready for my work day and blow drying my newly cut hair, I decided to go full out and take the time of doing some detailed makeup. I swear adding a touch of mascara can be face altering! The hair and makeup inspired me to pull out a pair of my favorite jeans and instead of going for my comfort shirt I put on a camisole and a fitted jacket. I finished the look with a pair of heels. I can't remember the last time I wore HEELS. (By the way, when I say heels, I mean 2" heels - that's my limit). I grabbed my coffee and walked out the door feeling better than I have in forever. I had a lighter step and a smile on my face. I felt CONFIDENT and ready to conquer the day. And when I got to work, do you know what I did? I took advantage of my studio set up and faced my fear of the camera and had myself a little Glam Mom Photo shoot. I mean how can I ask other Moms to dive in if I'm not willing to do it myself, right?
I'll admit, doing a self -photoshoot is not an easy task. Trying to nail posing on a timer, without seeing yourself is more of a challenge than you would think, but I managed it. And here are the results.
Taking these pictures of myself in this more positive state of mind allowed me to focus on appreciating the things that I DO LIKE about myself instead of focusing on all the things I DON'T LIKE. I love my hair - I'm 45 and that is my natural color. My eyes are a pretty cool mix of green and brown and change with what I'm wearing. Yeah, I need to lose weight, but I don't look half as bad as I beat myself up over. Most importantly - I realized that if I put a little more energy into myself my whole attitude is better which directly and positively affects my family. When I'm happy my family is happy. When I'm confident I'm teaching my kids to be confident. When I'm happy and confident my husband gets to enjoy the woman he married! And once I start feeling better about myself I am encouraged to make more positive changes in my life.
The Walk Away
I encourage you to look within yourself and find that self-confidence that has been buried. Grab it and bring it out. Forget what Jane, Christy, Tara and everyone else is doing or what they look like and celebrate YOU, as you are, right now. Take a little time each day to do something for YOU that will make YOU feel good. Stop all the negative self-talk and appreciate the positives instead. And if you're like me, STOP fearing the camera. Grab your kids and your significant other and strike a pose!