Back in April of 2015, I wrote and posted a blog entitled “The Conclusion of the Be Better Project.” This blog went on to be included in my essay collection 1:03 a.m., and was written about my three year experience to lose weight and get my body bikini ready. I posted before and after photos, and talked about how I had began my weight loss journey intending to look good, but had ended it embracing my flaws.
I’m on social media a great deal: most Indie Authors are, since it’s a great platform for marketing. I also use it to post snippets of my life. Some photos show me wearing full blown makeup and hair, others have just a touch of makeup, and others show me wearing no makeup (95% of the photos of me on my Route 66 Road Trip I have no makeup on, with my hair braided back). I’ll level with you Dear Reader: the amount of makeup I wear day to day depends on what’s going on: Photo shoots, work events, author signings, meeting with friends to catch up, hitting the gym, taking a vacation. On days where I’m with my kidlets and running errands, I rarely bother.
Photos get snapped by other people or I take selfies of myself or with myself and friends and get posted on line. Depending on the day, I’m either wearing makeup, or I’m not.
A strange occurance began when I posted “The Conclusion of the Be Better Project’, and with each picture that I (or someone else) posted with me sans makeup: I recieve a comment either on the post itself or in a DM or text or email: “You’re so courageous for posting a photo of yourself without makeup” or “I could never be brave enough to post a photo of myself in a bikini.” At first, I felt proud of myself for showing photos of me without makeup, with an additional seventy-five pounds on my body, for showing photos of myself with no touch ups.
Then I felt angry.
It’s not courageous what I’m doing. It’s reality. I am not brave for showing myself with no makeup on. I’m human.
I’ve spent a great deal of my younger years hiding behind a shield of makeup. I was so fearful of what people would think if they saw me without foundation and eyeshadow and lipstick. Even worse, I have in my past starved myself for the purpose of weight loss so I could fit into someone else’s idea of what is beautiful. I used to be terrified if someone saw me without makeup, without my hair done, or if a photo was posted with me looking less than perfect. Now? Now I am me, and while there are photos of me where I’ve got my hair done, makeup on, and clothing that hides my flaws, there are also photos of me without makeup, hair in need of a color touch up, wearing comfortable clothes and being comfortable in my own skin. The beautiful truth in all this is that on the other side of those insecurities is that at this new place in my life, one that is filled with self love and acceptance, is the wonderful realization that there’s nothing wrong with how I look; instead there is something very wrong with the way other people think.
So often I come across photos that have been altered in one way or another. Which makes me wonder why the person in the photograph is trying so hard to hide their true image. I get the whole want to look your best thing. But why alter image so much that you look nothing like the photos of you online? Are we really so image focused, so perfection focused, that its necessary to hide our flaws?
What is so wrong with having flaws? So what if my eyes have lines around them, so what if my abdomen is not perfectly flat? I’d rather be seen as a truly am than to be shoved into a box that I won’t fit into.
Back in May, I had a new set of author photos taken. I did the usual pre-shoot trip to the salon and had my hair done and my makeup professionally applied. And while the photographer edited out sweat or sunglare off my skin (the shoot was outside and it was close to 100 degrees), there was no alteration to my waist line, breasts or body. In the photo I selected to be used for promotional events and go on the back on my book covers, I’m leaning up against a fence, arms crossed over my white t-shirt, staring straight at the camera. The look on my face is one of absolute determination and strength, almost like I’m daring anyone viewing the photo to tell me I’m not worth it, to find fault in me for being anything other than perfect.
I’m not perfect. I never will be perfect, nor do I want to be. The lines around my eyes show a life spent laughing, the scars on my abdomen show a history of surviving health issues and coming out on the other side victorious in my fight for health and motherhood. Anyone who would judge me in the photos of me without makeup or with my abdomen showing it slight curve outward is not the type of person I want in my life. I’d rather surround myself with people who see my flaws as marks of a life lived fully.
Much love Dear Reader. Embrace you as you, and love what makes you stand apart from the rest of the world.