“I can’t post this. Why am I making those horrible faces? Every time I bend down, you can see my stomach pooch out. Jesus take the wheel, I have the worst bags under my eyes. How am I supposed to post this when my form isn’t on point? The armpit fat. Always the armpit fat. Alright, I need to film another round. This one isn’t good enough.
This is the exact thought process that went through my head yesterday after I recorded myself completing a kettlebell finisher at the gym. Not only did I film another round, but I also filmed all four rounds. Afterward, I spent countless minutes scrutinizing each video and trying to find one I felt was decent enough to share.
To be honest, I was so worried about how I looked in the video, I still haven’t posted it.
Thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a hater sesh on myself after taking a video or photo, and I sure as hell know I’m not alone. In fact, there have been several times I didn’t post a selfie of myself because I was so concerned with it coming across as narcissistic, that I would be judged. I would take bets every single person reading this has gone through the exact same thought process, and probably gone through it for every dang photo they posted on social media.
This is how the process goes…
Take a photo. Wait, that’s cute. I meant to take ten photos — using optimal angles, in the best lighting, both vertically and horizontally. Then, immediately grab the phone (what’s a camera?) and analyze said photos to make sure at least one of them looks decent enough to filter and edit. If not, repeat this first part again until you’ve achieved the desired result. Then, you settle yourself into editing, filtering, and Facetuning the sh*t out of that one photo until you finally deem it good enough to share with the world.
An ‘unposted’ selfie from my vault of self-loathing.
Sound familiar? You know it does. We all do it. We all fall into this trap, some deeper than others, but we all do it. We all filter. We all judge ourselves.
This got me thinking. Back in the day, before cell phones, digital cameras, and social media, we just took the picture. We took the picture, and we moved on and lived our lives. We didn’t know what it was going to look like. We had to wait until we took the camera or film in to be developed, and then we either got a good shot or we didn’t. We may have put the good shots into frames, but we usually didn’t throw away the bad ones. We put them in boxes or albums, and we looked back at them year after year because they were memories. We couldn’t delete it. We couldn’t edit or filter. Nobody even saw these photos unless they came into your house and saw them in frames, pinned to the fridge, or in albums.
Technology has now made it possible to have our ‘camera’ with us at any given moment and to edit our photos and videos immediately. Social media has given us the ability to share these photos with the world with the click of a button, and this is both amazingly wonderful and absolutely terrifying at the same time.
As a mom, I am constantly aware of the perception of life I’m passing on to my children. I don’t want my daughter growing up thinking she isn’t good enough, or that she needs to edit or filter the flaws away. I want her to be proud of who she is, and I want her to be kind and accepting of others. Part of the reason we have these insecurities when taking and sharing photos of ourselves is that we are deathly afraid of how others perceive us. I want both of my kids to play their own tiny part in starting to break down this barrier and practice acceptance and tolerance rather than spread hate and judgment.
Let’s be real. I’m not going to stop posting my videos and photos on social media. I’m not going to stop using filters or editing out the armpit fat. I’m not going to stop asking my husband to hold the phone at an upwards angle or stop looking for the best lighting. I see the beauty in photography, and I see the beauty in wanting to share a small piece of your happiness with others. However, I also see the damaging effect this whole process can have on our self-worth, our mental health, and how we view ourselves.
Here’s what I am going to do.
I’m going to start trying to embrace the flaws. I’m going to make a conscious effort to edit and hit delete less, and to post the real moments rather than the fake ones. I’m going to remind myself of how much it hurts to feel judged by others and make it a point to not impose that judgment on anybody; no matter if I agree with their choices, actions, or thoughts. I’m going to remind myself perfection does not exist and if I see myself as beautiful and strong, so will others. I’m going to try and spend less time worrying about what I can alter, and more time focusing on how I felt at that moment. That’s what I want to share with the world. I want the joy, the laughter, the strength, and the love to come through. When we waste all that time retaking, filtering, editing, and Facetuning, we are taking away from the reason we took that photo or video in the first place.
The focus needs to return to the reason we choose to record these moments of our lives, and away from what people will think about them.
I’m going to post that video. I’m not going to worry if my form isn’t amazing, if I make horrible workout faces because I’m tired and can’t breathe, or if my stomach pooches out. Instead, I’m going to show the world I’m a strong, badass mom who actually found some time to get a workout in, and is taking strides to be healthier and happier. I’m proud of what I accomplished at that moment, and I want to show that off!
Next time you are out and about doing something you love, take a photo of yourself. I challenge you. Don’t edit it. Don’t filter it. Don’t retake it.
Post it. Just as you are. Because the ‘you’ that you feel while taking that photo is the only one that matters.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mari Ebert. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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