This is post is very personal to me. I mean, I guess all my posts are, but I often try to keep it objective and share more about topics and facts and less about emotions and my heart. This is one is straight from my heart. It is a letter to fellow women, and a deep cry for change.
I have wrestled with this for quite some time. I don’t just mean writing this post. I mean that I have literally wrestled with the very thing I want to talk about, and my words come from deep experience and painful process.
So what is it, you are wondering? I want to talk about women posting photos on social media. I want to talk about the photos in swimsuits, the gym selfies, the photos of our kids that conveniently show the muscles we are most proud of, and the selfies we took over and over to get the perfect one that showed our very best features. I want to talk about the photos, and I want to talk about the motives behind them.
And before you think this is a post about “honoring men” and “guarding their hearts and eyes,” just don’t.
This isn’t for them, and isn’t about them. We are setting their needs aside.
This one is for us.
There is a deep longing in our hearts as women to be seen as beautiful. I get it. I have struggled much of my life with knowing and believing that I am beautiful. I struggled with it in high school, surrounded by beautiful girls that were less than beautiful on the inside. I struggled with it in college when I realized that most of the world was not obese like me. I struggled with it when I was not dating and everyone around me was. I struggled with it when I was dating and I knew my boyfriend (now husband) was crazy about me. And I have struggled with it in my marriage when my husband has said dumb things to me.
I get you. I feel you.
And now what I want you to get, what I want you to feel, is that truly knowing your beauty won’t come from the comments you will get on your perfect photo. It might feel good for a moment, but what good are the compliments from others if you spent twenty minutes getting the perfect angle and don’t even feel like that is the “you” that you see when you look in the mirror.
Maybe I skipped an important explanation… or some important details.
See, I was you not too long ago. I was getting in shape, losing weight, and finally starting to feel somewhat beautiful. But that wasn’t enough. I wanted to know that other people felt that way, too. Perhaps it’s because I needed the affirmation of others in order to cross the line from feeling somewhat beautiful to feeling totally beautiful.
I cared more about other people thinking I was beautiful than actually knowing for myself that I was beautiful.
I got caught up in the trap, and it never satisfied. Because even though people would comment on my perfectly staged photos, I would still look in the mirror and be unhappy with what I saw. I was pretending to have perfect features so other people would give me compliments, and I was pretending to be nonchalant about it.
But people can smell that shit from a mile away.
I would have been better off just asking someone for the affirmation I needed or pointing out how proud I was of my weight loss and muscle gains. Because then at least I would have been real.
But it’s too scary to expose that we are insecure, right?
Yet every time we post those perfectly posed yet entirely casual “this picture and caption are of my baby but my perfect legs or arms are conveniently showing” photos, more people see our motives than we realize.
Women, I am not saying that you should never post a selfie or photo that happens to have your awesome body in it.
What I am saying, is that we need to start examining our motives. We need to start being honest with ourselves about the reason we are posting something. Maybe some of you truly don’t struggle with this, so you find it confusing to even think about why you are posting a photo. If you genuinely feel that way, this probably isn’t for you.
But for the women who do this- you know who you are. Whether you are reading this and saying, “oh man, I am so guilty,” or you are coming up with explanations and excuses for why it is okay, I am challenging you to challenge your motives.
When I realized this pattern in my life, I basically made a simple rule for myself. And while I don’t think this has to be your rule, I do think it’s helpful.
If I even start to think about what people will say about my beauty or how they will compliment a certain feature, I simply don’t post it. Again, for some women, this isn’t an issue. You don’t struggle with this, and you genuinely have the confidence to back your photo. And that is great. For the others, you know who you are. For those looking at the photo and longing for the compliments, perhaps putting the photo on the back burner is a good idea.
Because you are worth more than the compliments that don’t satisfy. Knowing you are beautiful is so much more satisfying than knowing that someone thinks a photo of you is beautiful.
So, dear women, start respecting yourselves. You deserve more than empty compliments of a single moment that may or may not have taken you thirteen tries to achieve.