In a world of instant uploads, tweets and posts, we have all become somewhat fanatical about the pictures of us floating around in cyberspace. Almost all the photos I see on social media websites are faded, blurred, color altered, or 'artistically enhanced.' I would like to think that we all just want to show off our creative and artistic side, but I am no different from everyone else and I know the truth. We alter, blur, fade, and color change all of our imperfections until we have convinced ourselves those flaws are no longer visible. Most women these days take pictures of themselves with only one cheek to the camera, eyes wide, lips puckered. While we believe this makes us look like thin, mysterious models; it really makes us look like an exotic bird that just swallowed a piece of lemon.
People have taken pictures of me that make me cringe. They are pictures of me laughing, dancing, experiencing something new, loving my children, adoring my husband, and otherwise thoroughly enjoying and engaging in life. These same pictures also show that my arms have gotten fat, I have a strange roll around my midsection, and my face is more full than I would like. Some pictures show the gray hairs that have escaped the latest dye job, while other pictures show a strange chicken neck that is starting to emerge. I see these photos and think, BLECH! Why does this person hate me? Why are they posting such horrid pictures of me?
The sad part is that I struggle to look at those photos and see the beauty and special gifts that I am able to experience because I am so worried that others will judge me. I don't see what others saw when they posted the picture. It's like looking at a Monet; I am standing so close to my own life that I can only see the imperfection of one dot instead of the beauty of the entire piece of art.
My life is no different than most of the women I know. We are all struggling to
balance career, family, personal growth, and maybe a little bit of 'me time.' We
strive to be self-actualized and zen-like while also maintaining an image of
perfection. Most of us wake up and feel great about life until we check all our social media websites…and then, suddenly we are inadequate, pudgy, lazy, stupid women. After all, that woman somehow finds the time to keep her body in great shape-just look at those vacation pictures…. and this women makes cupcakes that looks like tea cups for her daughter “just to show she cares”….and wow, this woman just taught her children Spanish….oh goodness, and this woman makes organic baby food! We take these snapshots and make instant comparisons of how we aren’t measuring up in life. We think about that 15 minutes that we listened to the alarm in the morning and instantly realize that we could achieve perfection if we just utilized our time better. I bet ‘perfect body lady’ got up and did jump squats for fifteen minutes. ‘Yoga lady’ probably did meaningful meditation during that 15 minutes. ‘Amazing mom’ used that fifteen minutes to cut peanut butter sandwiches into flowers. Stupid, lazy me, inadequate me. All I did was rest.
While there are more posts about 'real women,' most of us still aren’t confident enough to expose our own realness. We post cartoons with witty tag lines, but at the same time we rush to un-tag our own unflattering photos. We are embarrassed to admit that we relax and have down time. We feel silly saying we just sat on the stoop and watched our kids blow bubbles for an hour. Instead of admitting that we read some trashy novel, we insist that we read Madeline Albright’s latest novel, and wasn’t it so intriguing?! We don’t post little moments on social media websites because they don’t seem exciting or exotic enough. We post trips and concerts, graduations, and gourmet meals. We never post a picture of the box of chicken we threw on the table for dinner, and we would never admit how much we love that chicken either. We don’t take pictures of our pink slips or the frazzled moments in the grocery store. We blur, fade, and enhance those parts right out of our existence.
The trouble is that all those little parts are parts of us. When we hide those parts, we hide ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to wake up every day to see a list of complaints about husbands, children, and terrible bosses …but I do want to see all those moments of joy and happiness, flaws and all. If you look fat in that picture of you kissing the dolphin, so what? You kissed a dolphin! That is amazing and I bet you had a great time, so post the picture and let us see your joy.
Here is my challenge to all women (mostly it is a challenge to myself, but hey, it is always nice to have someone else in the boat with me):
- Stop posting pictures in faded shades of browns and yellows.
- Stop postig pictures with strange artistic effects, or that are fuzzy around the edges.
- Stop contorting your body just to make you look thinner.
- Stop posing with the weird lemon eating bird look.
- Show us your whole face. A full smile is always better than a half smile.
- When someone posts a picture of you that shows you as you are, leave the tag.
- Let it go. Live life. Don't worry about it looks to others.
I see your pictures and think, Wow, she seems so happy or Jeez, that looks like fun! or She just glows with happiness or What a beautiful family. I don’t see the flaws you see, and I hope you don’t see mine either...and if you do, shame on you.
We are so nice to others; let’s work harder to be nice to ourselves. Oh, and
stop spending so much time on Pinterest…no one is actually constructing a dresser from old barn doors and Wegman’s has beautiful cupcakes that you can purchase on the way to one of the ten thousand lacrosse games you have this week, and those cupcakes are just as tasty as anything you would have made from scratch.