if i ever become in a position where i am in the greater public eye: magazines, photos on tv or a book cover, i want to make one thing very clear: i never, ever want my images to be photoshopped. fiddle with the background or clarity or exposure, but never alter my body. unless, i guess, i have a booger visible or some other embarrassing thing happening to me. but in that case, just use a different photo!
this buzzfeed of photoshopped celebs set me off. when i looked at all the gifs, i actually thought the non-doctored photos looked better because they looked real. they showed these beautiful women and men just as they are. the altered versions were suddenly so unappealing to me and i was angry at how much someone had manipulated the bodies of these people to create figures and faces that don't actually exist.
one of my running heroes, lauren fleshman, recently wrote about "keeping it real about our bodies." now, i'm ready to share my two cents.
|one of the gifs from buzzfeed - credit to them|
i spent so many years of my life wishing and wanting to be somebody else. everything i learned from the media and my peers told me somebody else was who i should want to be. who i was, wasn't good enough. as a result, i never spent a single day or moment wanting to be me.
i fell upon this realization just now, 28 years into my life, that i've never once wanted or tried to be me. here i am, trying to figure out who i am, what i stand for, what my passions are, and i just now realize i've spent most of my aware years trying to be anyone but myself. how could i possibly learn who i am or what i like to do when i'm not even trying to achieve an end goal of being who i am?! how can i discover what i like to do, what my life's purpose is, if i'm trying to be just like kim kardashian, for example? it just doesn't make any sense!
i've really done a disservice to myself and i think i need to spend some time on a heartfelt apology to yours truly. but now is not the time for that. i'm still on a rant.
i started thinking (a dangerous thing to do, i know): maybe celebrities see these photoshopped pics of themselves and wish they could be that version of them, or someone else, too. i mean, celebrities really are normal people with normal bodies like us that dimple, get age spots, fold over and have fat. at the end of the day, we are all, celebrities and us mere mortals, chasing these made up versions of human forms that don't exist! why should i obsess over these images of people i want to be, or body parts i want to have, when even the celebrities i look up to are trying to live up to a level of physical being that is completely made up?! why the hell am i so overwhelmed with feeling like i have to live up to those made up images, too?
if we are being honest, my job does not pay me to look a certain way or even be a public figure in high visibility, like the job of a celebrity requires, so why do i put that level of pressure on myself? don't get me wrong, i'm not saying celebrities should have that pressure either, but their job requirements are much different than mine so naturally there is more emphasis on their physical looks than there is on mine.
its just stupid. and my rational brain knows this. it tries to appeal to my emotional brain who is off flitzing around, trying to look like celebrity x, y and z. to some extent, i do think my rational side is making progress. but this is not an instant fix. it never will be. just because i now understand that i need to, and want to, aspire to be me, and not hold myself accountable for unrealistic and unattainable physical traits, doesn't mean i instantly and unconditionally love my body just the way it is.
but this light bulb moment is a step in the right direction. and thats the whole point of this; making the decision to strive to be no one else but me is the first big step towards the body love and self acceptance that i believe is critical for me to have a healthy and happy life.
when i look at the pictures of me above, my natural reaction is to eye ball my "problem" areas: thighs, arms and chin. these are areas of my body that i have taught myself to believe are "problems" and years of believing this has turned my natural reaction to looking at a photo to immediately zero in on those areas and base my entire approval of a photo only on how those areas of my body look. believe me, there is no way in hell i would have shared those photos of myself above, prior to my ah-ha moment. i never would have posted any photo that i didn't think looked like a "perfect" image of they way i wanted myself to appear to others.
but something funny happened when i was going through the photos from my most recent races. yes, i did zero in on those "problem areas" that i always look to first, but my mind didn't trigger the normal, over dramatic negative reactions i normally have. instead, what i saw was me. i saw myself in those moments of the race where i was channeling the inner fire to move forward. i saw a woman with determination. i saw a woman who accomplished something that took a tremendous amount of courage and persistence of physical and mental strength. i saw someone who had pushed through years of debilitating depression, sadness, and insecurity to get across the finish line of two races that she questioned she could finish. i saw, for the first time, the woman i admired, the woman i wanted to be. and wouldn't you know, that woman in those photos was me.
sure, a random stranger looking at those photos may only focus on what they see on the surface of that woman: legs, hair, feet, face, etc. but anyone who knows me can look at those pictures and see beyond the exterior. they can see the happiness and the strength and the determination that radiates through those snapshots of me during an important moment in my life. and that, to me, is more valuable, real and desirable than any photoshopped version of myself i could ever invent.