I have a confession to make, whilst I want to encourage you to allow your mug to be captured on celluloid, I’m slightly guilty of Madge’s Papa Don’t Preach, in that my first reaction the moment someone requests a photo is to become a hive of industry.
I’m not suggesting you rush out and buy a selfie stick *shudders* all I’m saying is why not let people see you? Why not gift them a brief glimpse of who you are. I’m no model, photos for me aren’t about getting trigger happy with filters or peace signs, they’re about allowing someone to catch an essence, a snapshot, of my soul, as damned to hell as it may be.
It took a considerable amount of time to stand in front of a mirror and learn to find things that I could appreciate; because when in truth do we do that? How much time must expire before we begin to look for features to celebrate as opposed to flaws to exploit? Subconsciously from a young age, particularly as women, we’re groomed not only to look at ourselves in a negative light, but to eternally grasp for this ridiculous yardstick of beauty that is far too narrow to be a true representation of the spectrum of shapes and sizes of our gender.
I was a bit of a chubby cheeks growing up, add to that a bowl cut complete with doorstop fringe (they called me ‘helmet head’) and NHS prescription specs and you’ve a winning combination for beauty pageants! Basically, for the majority of my youth I presented as the illegitimate lovechild of Lloyd Christmas! Yet even when I donned the Mr Motivator sweatbands and began shedding the pounds I still avoided mirrors as though they potentially housed a malicious spirit (Stevie Wonder’s right – superstition ain’t the way) no matter whether I was over or under weight, my mind manipulated what I saw, distorted it as though I were peering through carnival glass.
I’ll admit to doing a mini-fist pump when I find right shade of lipstick to complement to my pale skin tone (think Wednesday Addams) and I applaud anyone who can apply an eyeliner flick without gouging themselves, but cosmetics aren’t necessarily a palette for contentment. Self-image is such a tumultuous box even Pandora would think twice before opening it. Manufacturers prey upon our collective weakness of perception and would have us believe that inner tranquility can be generously applied once a morning and at night following a recommended regime.
Gone are the days when it was the ‘men in white coats’ to avoid. Now you can’t stroll through a department store without having to employ ninja stealth so to avoid the heavily tanned individuals in lab PPE gear.
Beauty is subjective, it isn’t found on a catwalk or in the bottom of a jar – the Warden of Shawshank was right; salvation lies within. The measurement of your value isn’t weighed in pounds or kilos, or defined by a dress size, it’s in your heart.
Whatever your look, remember what cements it lies beneath the skin. What illuminates you isn’t stored in the bathroom cabinet. Every picture tells a story, don’t let promotional spiel detract you from yours.
This isn’t a political manifest – I’m not attempting to spark a make-up mutiny, god knows I’ve searched long enough to find skincare that does the job (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve suffered a McCauley Culkin Home Alone moment after applying aftershave directly to a breakout of spots) more a friendly reminder to exercise a little caution against the excessive corporate jargon that would encourage us to be ‘selfie’ ready at all times.
Let your war paint be an accessory not a necessity.
Whenever you doubt yourself remember, I see a superhero. Your cape might have got lost in the post (bloody Royal Mail *shakes fist*) but sometimes heroism comes from the smallest acts; choosing self-care over self-sabotage, raising your head and saying:
This is me.