You. Yes you, the one reading this. You ARE beautiful! Shhh! Don’t argue with me. Just hear me out, because you are, and apparently, you don’t realize it. But you need to, before it’s too late. Let me explain..
I photograph people. This you know. Mainly families, little ones, babies. I hear comments all the time that make me sad. Sad that you don’t think you are beautiful. Sad that you don’t KNOW it. Just photograph the kids, you say. I want to wait to be in pictures till I lose more weight, you say. My arms look fat, you say. Can you Photoshop my chin?
Then I heard it from my best friend of 20+ years. It really got me thinking. It struck a nerve, because I really think she is gorgeous. I mean I REALLY. DO. Always have. I love her, and maybe that is a part of it. But even if I didn’t know her, I’d like to think I would be absolutely stricken by her natural beauty. Not makeup, not hair-dos or clothing. Her.
This is how I feel about you, my clients. I am stricken by your beauty. I see your gorgeous eyes, your unique nose, your curly/straight/long/short/brown/red/blonde/black/purple hair, and how all of these pieces come together to make the one and only you. And then I see those little bits of you intertwined with little freckles and dimples in the faces of your children, and I think that is the most beautiful thing in the world.
You have what you call flaws too, yes. Those things that bug you. The reasons you want to wait till next month, or next summer, or next year to get your picture taken. But I don’t see them as flaws. I see them as characteristics that belong only to you. The things that make you YOU. Without them, the world would be a pretty boring place.
I get it though. Since the time we are first aware of our surroundings, we are bombarded by messages that we aren’t good enough, that we have to be better. From cartoons to commercials to billboards, we are constantly force-fed the message that we need to strive to change ourselves, that we should somehow become perfect (in three easy payments!). When I was a kid, I wanted green eyes and long, red hair, like Ariel. In fact, I wanted to BE a mermaid.
But seriously, what IS better? What IS perfect? Will we ever get there? Will I ever BE a mermaid?
Nope. Know why? Because perfect doesn’t exist, or at least not by the definition that the media is pushing. All those ads you see with pore-less women with impossible green eyes and luxuriously curly red hair? They don’t exist. From make-up and props to photo- and video-editing, it’s all a sham. Even the ones that claim to promote natural beauty.
The reason is simple. If they make you feel less than perfect, then they have succeeded in making you want to buy their product.
Yesterday, I saw an ad on TV that made me care about my arm pits. I have never before stopped to consider my arm pits, but there I was, wondering if they are nice looking arm pits. According to the commercial, nice looking arm pits have no red bumps or hairs. Unfortunately, mine have a few red bumps, therefore I guess I have imperfect arm pits. Ironically, I already use the product they advertised, and have for years. Had I not though, in a moment of weakness, I may have added that product to my grocery list. For a body part I hadn’t given a second’s thought to the day before.
Here’s the thing: those that love you, the ones that truly care about you, LOVE the little things about you. All of the little things. Despite the little things. BECAUSE of the little things. You wouldn’t be YOU without them. Just ask your husband, ask your kids, ask your Mom and your best friends. They don’t care about whether or not you have visible pores on your face, or if you’re carrying an extra ten, twenty, or thirty pounds. Whether or not your eyes get all squinty when you belly-laugh, or if your chin appears to double when you flash your biggest, happiest smile. Chances are, those are the little things they adore the most when they look at you, the things they want to always remember. It’s all a part of you, and you are beautiful.
Do you hide when a camera comes out? Ask yourself: Will your children be able to see you in photographs 10 years from now? This is an important question, because tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us!
Still don’t believe me? I challenge you to look in the mirror every day and find something about yourself to love, and to shut off that inner voice that tries to tell you what you shouldn’t.
I challenge you to look at your children and pick out the little characteristics they got from you, and adore the fact that you can share something so amazing. In fact, make it a game to play out loud and take turns!
I challenge you to see the falsity of advertising imagery, and tell yourself it’s not real. In fact, if your kids are there, say it out loud! They need to hear it. It’s not real, and it’s not the yardstick by which you should be measuring yourself.
I challenge you to stop comparing yourself to others. You are NOT them, and you don’t need to be. You are you, and remember? You are beautiful. See the beauty in your friends and loved ones and tell them about it every day!
I challenge you to take selfies with your kids, or just you! Every day! And don’t delete them. Don’t use one of those silly photo editing apps. Just post it as it is, and don’t be sorry about it, because YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!