I recently signed up for Hannah Marcotti’s 2-week long sexy and sanguine course. I figured it would be a good learning experience for me as I work this year on loving me. When I signed up for the course, I knew we would be receiving daily prompts and lessons. We were warned to have a journal, pen, and a camera ready. For some reason, I envisioned journal prompts and taking pictures of things that inspired us. I was wrong.
On day 1 of the course I realized that we needed a camera so we could take pictures of ourselves and post them on Hannah’s private Facebook group page. Oh no. Not happening. And so I ignored those daily emails, letting them pile up in my inbox. Until the last day of the course – Day 14.
Because that’s when it hit me. By refusing to take pictures of myself, I was refusing me at my very core.
I’ve never been one for getting my picture taken. It’s not that I don’t like what I look like; it’s that I’m not very photogenic. So what I see in the mirror and what comes out on camera seem like two totally different things to me. The only time I’ve been proud of what I looked like in pictures was last fall when I was being photographed as part of a cover shoot. I loved the way those pictures turned out. But that’s what having a professional hair and make-up artist, professional photographer, and a little photo shop does for you. Pores? Gone. Wrinkles? Gone. Imperfections? Gone. The few people who have seen those images of me say that they don’t even look like me. Now I get why Cindy Crawford was once quoted as saying, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford!”
But she doesn’t. And neither did I – look like myself in my cover shoot. And I found myself torn about this. On the one hand, I finally loved pictures of myself. On the other hand, people who know me say those pictures are gorgeous but don’t look like me. So I’m doing an experiment. I’m putting it all out there. Next week is media influence week in my Psychology of Eating class. I am leading with BuzzFeed Video’s recent campaign of real women being photoshopped and their reactions to their pictures (similar to my reaction, they were confused about what to think). And then I’m showing my before and after photoshop shots so the students can see what I really look like (which they see every day), what I look like after 2 hours of hair and make-up (unretouched photos), and what I look like after those ‘cover shots’ have been photoshopped.
Preparing that lecture was kind of depressing, really. It made me realize that my ‘cover girl shot’ looks nothing like me. And I’m not sure what to think about that. When you’re trying to learn to love yourself and love your body maybe viewing photoshopped images of yourself isn’t the best idea.
On the plus side, it motivated me to actually start Hannah Marcotti’s challenge. I’m on Day 2. I’m journaling, I’m figuring out what makes me feel sexy and sanguine, and I’m posting pictures of random body parts on Facebook (see my shoulder shot above)! My goal is to go further than Hannah’s challenge though. I want to not just take pictures of my body, but learn to love what it looks like too – the unphotoshopped, real version of me. So I’m adding hearts and words to my skin so that when I see these images I will remember: I am love.