Like it or not, we are living in the age of the “selfie.” Sadly, this word has made it into Oxford’s dictionary so it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. A “selfie” is a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media, for those of you who may be wondering. There are a lot of things I cannot stand about selfies, and in working on my own little project today, I see the way they are more and more detrimental to our own self acceptance and feeling of self worth.
Do you remember the day when a photo wasn’t instant? (If you don’t then obviously I am showing my age–and I’m not that old at all.) There was actually a time in history when we took a picture and had no idea how it would come out. We finished a roll of film and dropped it off at the drugstore. If we paid the extra, we could have the photographs back in 24 hours, otherwise we had to wait several days. Once these photos were back in our hands, we flipped through them eagerly to see the memories on paper. No filters, no editing, just a snap of history exactly as it was.
Fast forward to today. Snap a picture, take a look. Not happy? Simple; delete and it’s gone. Like it a bit but not quite what you are looking for? Got a zit? Hair a bit messy? There’s an app for that. Change it to black and white. Crop the photo so you can hide what you don’t want others to see. The mentality of taking pictures is so different. We don’t take photos with the mindset of remembering. We take photos with the general idea of, what will others think of me when they see this photo? What if they see that I have this horrible blemish on my face? What if they see that I barely have any make up on? What if they find out that I am not perfect?
I came across this beautiful video by Colbie Collait. In response to the constant pressure to look a certain way in the media, she wrote this song. I get goosebumps each and every time I see it. Recently, I used it to open a session with the girls I work with each week. The girls were the quietest I had ever experienced. They sat in awe of the video. Our conversation that followed was one that I hope they will never forget.
How often do you leave the house without make up on? When you do, are you mortified when you run into someone you know? Do you apologize for looking “like such a mess”? These are the things we do. This is the mentality that we have and it seems like it cannot be undone. Is there anyone that you feel comfortable enough around that you can be make up free and undone? I really hope so. I really, really hope so.
There was a time when being caught without looking my best would’ve been a disaster. There was a time when I was so concerned about what others thought about the way I looked. I was worried that if I didn’t look perfect then they would know, they would see. What was I worried that they would see or know? That I am not exactly sure. I guess I was worried that people would know I was flawed, I was not perfect. But looking back, it’s as though I didn’t want people to know that I was just like them: I was human. I am human. I am flawed. I am blemished. I am far from perfect. And you know what? That’s ok.
So back to the selfies. Last session with my girls at True Body, we created True Body selfies. In this activity, the girls created poems and then took several lines and wrote them on larger pieces of paper. I took pictures of each of them but their faces were covered by their writing. The experience was powerful for all of us. However, one girl immediately came over to my phone and tried to edit her photo. I was amazed to see her do this. This was a photo in which no one could really tell it was actually her unless they knew what jacket she wore. This dissatisfaction of what we look like and of our true selves is so ingrained in our youth. How do we change this? How do we stop the cycle of dissatisfaction for the way we are?
So today, I had a little fun with my own selfie project. I have never taken a selfie or if I have I cannot remember what for or when. This process taught me a lot about this form of photography. I came to my computer to write today almost exactly as I woke up. No make up, and luscious locks of beautiful bed head. I decided that I was going to do what Colbie Callait and the women in the “Try” video did. I was going to share myself exactly the way I am. No filter, no editing. First, I couldn’t believe how many snaps I actually took. I had to get myself in the picture which was more of a challenge than I thought. The more I studied each photo, the more I criticized myself and the more I was appalled by the way I looked. I scrutinized each feature on my face. Uggh, I look awful, I thought. After a few minutes, I began looking directly into my eyes in each photo. I studied them for a few moments and slowly began to lighten up on myself. I started to become more comfortable. This is me. This is exactly who I am, untouched, unedited. What good comes from loathing these photos? What benefit comes from picking myself apart, piece by piece? Nothing, absolutely nothing.
So no more hiding. I am perfect just as I am. I am as I am. This is what I look like, but who I am is much more than what you see. Sure, I may have to repeat this a few more times to believe it, but it’s better than completely altering the pictures to look like someone else, not me. Do you think you can do it? Do you think you can go unfiltered? Can you take off all of the layers and be vulnerable? It’s not easy, but there is freedom that comes from letting go. Go on and give it a try. Be untouched, unfiltered and show that there is no need of any editing whatsoever.
Okay, time for a new recipe! This is one of my new favorites and just in time for the winter. When it comes to snowy days, I enjoy the combination of chocolate and mint. I am assuming it has something to do with seeing all of the signs for peppermint mochas in the windows of coffee shops. This recipe is clean and delicious, and you will never guess the secret ingredient! Avocado is the base of this dessert, so go ahead, indulge! It is so worth it!
Secret Ingredient Peppermint Chocolate Mousse
2 medium ripe avocados
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 T pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
3 T unsweetened almond milk or whole milk
Dash of sea salt
1. Combine all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse a few times and then run processor until all ingredients are combined and the texture of the mousse is smooth. Feel free to add a bit more peppermint extract. It can be a bit strong, so start with the 1/4 tsp and add from there.
2. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to an hour and serve.