Be honest. When was the last time you looked at a picture of yourself that someone else took without you approving it and said “Wow! I look exactly like I pictured myself in my head and I am gorgeous!”?
If you answered anytime in the past, EVER, this article isn’t for you. As for those of us who reside in the land of self doubt and low self esteem our comments aren’t as nice.
After accepting a contributor position with Austin Mom’s Blog the next step was to gather for our photo shoot. We would discuss in depth our outfits, decide, change our minds, then decide again. Day of we would arrive, chat, smile, and laugh until the camera shutter clicked capturing us EXACTLY as we look in natural light with no airbrush or photoshop to be done. We all left in such a wonderful mood, there is no way our headshots and group photos wouldn’t reflect that. However, on reveal day, slowly but surely the cloud nine frame of mind would change from confidence to self bashing sometimes humorous and other times downright mean. The conversation and insults would spark a controversial discussion that left us with one option, blog about it.
I asked the ladies of AMB to give me their statements of what they say when they see a picture of themselves. I wanted honest and raw, no sugar coating. I suspect there was a little restraint when answering this question but none the less here is [email protected]*# Women Say when they see their Head shot.
“Ah hell. Crows feet.”
“Ugh I need a haircut”
“What does my husband see in me anyways?”
“I have some double chin action going on, but here’s the pic!”
“ugh I look so awkward”
“I wish I was wearing more makeup”
“Why is my head so big?”
“Why doesn’t anyone ever tell me not to smile so wide?”
“When the hell did I get so old?”
“I need a makeover.”
“Okay, I SWEAR I’m prettier in real life!”
“Why is my head so pumpkinesque???”
“Oh my God, my crazy eye is showing!”
“And why do my teeth look like Mr. Ed.?”
“That was definitely not my good side.”
“So this is what motherhood looks like… Not good.”
“Can we show more of my stomach in this HEADshot, so people will know there’s a reason my face is so fat? Yeah, I get face-pregnant”
“How can my face look so fat after losing 55 pounds?!”
“Real friends would tell me my nose is huge.”
“Why is my face so damn round?”
“And why can I not open my freakin eyes when I smile?”
“And sweet mother of gawd where did those wrinkles come from?”
“All that make-up makes me look like I work on a corner.”
Anonymity was of highest concern so no names were attached to these quotes.
I am a huge fan of social experiments and I would love this to have been one of those situations that I designed and filmed as such, but unfortunately I only get to come in late to the party. After seeing what these ladies, these beautiful, strong women wrote I then approached it from a different angle. I asked them to tell me what they would say if their daughter, who looked EXACTLY like them, said the very same words. Sure we can throw out the obvious outliers such as any husband, pregnant, or wrinkle related, but what about our insecurities that we have had since we were young? How do we look at our mini-me’s and keep them from feeling the same doubt we verbally express daily? How do we make them believe they are beautiful when we ourselves have doubt?
The responses to this question didn’t come in as fast, or as many. My favorite reply was from a mom of boys. It was humourous and I appreciated her honesty and old school approach. As for the rest of the responses they were as expected. After taking time to think it over there were beautifully scripted answers to how they would handle a doubting daughter. I believe most would answer their children the way they said but I know that speaking words of wisdom to our offspring doesn’t always matter. We must live it and show by example.
As a mom of two young girls I am aware of the constant reminders everywhere that outer beauty is a high stakes game. I stand in the supermarket and read the headlines, I shop the stores where the clothes seem to shrink before my very eyes, and I hear the women around me discuss in great detail about their “needed” improvements. In the past two years I have heard from other moms how their daughters, as young as nine, were complaining of how outfits made them look fat and how if they ate something it would make them fat. Fat? They are nine. Last time I looked around we don’t have any young girls rolling around the school hallways like giant beachballs. These kids are only repeating what they’ve heard.
I cannot preach to anyone when I live in a glass house. I look at pictures of myself and comment too quickly without checking to see if young ears are around. My 11 year old daughter is my spitting image and I do not want her to ever feel she is not pretty or compare herself to anyone else. If I want this I must change myself. Another contributor wrote a beautiful heartfelt response about how her mom would destroy pictures of herself because she didn’t like the way she looked and then sadly passed away at a very young age leaving very few pictures to hold onto. Our daughters deserve pictures of us and so do our sons.
So as a fellow Austin Moms Blog contributor and as a fellow mom I ask that you hold me accountable. I am professing my decision to take the journey towards change. I want to do as another mom said and see myself through my daughter’s eyes. More importantly I want to teach my two daughters to see themselves the way I see them, beautiful, simply beautiful.
And as for my fellow AMB ladies, I want you to know I think you are all fabulously beautiful in all your un-photoshopped glory.