Here’s the thing, I know I should feel beautiful. My head is full of empowering knowledge. I know that women have been their own worst enemies for too long when it comes to their self-worth. I know that the media often presents a skewed image of what beauty is. I’m aware that the world is not filled with supermodels and that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colours. I’ve read the books, watched the documentaries, and got the memo.
And yet, I still fail.
I fail because I still struggle to keep that voice in my head quiet. I'm not really sure where or even when that voice started in my head, but it's a most unwelcome guest.
This voice is insidious and likes to be especially critical when it comes to seeing myself in pictures. The first thing I do when I see an image of myself is let that voice start up. "I look 'insert critique here,' tired, old, fat, bloated." "Dear lord, no one must ever see this picture!" Even when it's a damn good picture of me, I deflect. "It's just smoke and mirrors," I claim. I know I am not alone in my thinking.
A recent Canadian survey from Dove found that less than 3% of women love the way they look in all photos,* 82% of women have hidden from a camera or expressed feeling camera-shy,† and the possibility of being tagged in an online photo makes over 63% of Canadian women feel more anxious about the way they look.* And that my friends, just makes me sad.
As adults, women become more self-conscious, developing an increasingly anxious relationship with the way they look. Only 4% of women would describe themselves as beautiful.* FOUR PERCENT!!! This is insane ladies.
It's time to change our relationship with the camera. The reality is that most days I live somewhere in between the best picture of myself and the worst. Some days I look great, some days not so much, but I'm the same person either way. I'm working hard to make sure I don't tie my self worth to snapshot.
I look at my daughters and I marvel at the difference in their approach to beauty. Only 21 months separate them, and apparently that's all it takes for that voice to show up. My 9-year-old just knows she's gorgeous. Not in a vain way, but with a quiet confidence. My almost 12-year-old used to be that way but the cracks are now starting to appear with each passing day. "I hate my hair," "I have nothing to wear," "I don't like the way I look."
As I mentioned earlier, I got the memo, so when it comes to my girls I am hyper-aware of the messages I send as their number 1 role model. I've never used those words around them and yet there it is.
It's why I'm grateful for companies like Dove that are working hard to change the voice. Dove wants to inspire women to reconsider their own view of how they look. To question what is truly beautiful.
It wasn't until I started writing this post and really thinking about what pictures are showing us that I realized I've been missing the point for a long, long time. Going through my photos on my computer, I noticed something really great. I smile, a lot. I mean, great big joyful smiles. Which to me is indicative of a happy life. So, why then pick apart my looks, when the pictures aren't telling that story at all?
My photos show a life well-lived. Isn't that beautiful?
Still feeling anxious when a camera is around? This mom tells us how to change the camera-shy conversation our head and this mom tells us how we can all share our family's story through photos.
Watch this eye-opening video and try to pinpoint the time in your life when you became your own worse critic:
It’s time for all of us to celebrate our unique beauty.