Before I start, I’d just like to apologise for the ridiculous title and hope you don’t judge me too hard for being bad at puns.
Today I’m going to be talking about selfies and pictures of people that you see on the internet and social media, but the difference is that this time, that person is going to be you!
I’ve never seen anyone really talk or touch upon this before (maybe it’s not even a thing or maybe it’s just something odd to talk about) but I had an idea the other day when I was thinking about certain past life events of mine and thought you know what? I’m going to write about that.
I’m going to try and keep the story short, as if I try and go into too much detail it will pan off into different topics like body confidence, self perception etc. and again I’d like to talk about those properly in separate blog posts, so I’ll try and make this as simple as possible.
When I was 14 I moved to a new school and I met this guy there, over here we leave school when we’re 16 and so I was seeing this person every day in class for 2 years before we left. Long story short we both knew we liked each other but basically he was too scared to get into a relationship and so it never ended up going anywhere and we left school without seeing or speaking to each other again.
Over the next couple of years after we left school he did message me a few times, (once every 6 months if that) but he still wasn’t ready to get into a relationship and so I was like okay cool, I don’t need to worry or even think about that because it’s not going to manifest into anything, he’s just another number in my phone.
Fast forward 3 years later to when I’m 19 and this guy has suddenly really grown up and now he wants to properly start hanging out to see if a relationship can happen between us. I want to, obviously, but the more I think about it, the more I start to panic. (Side note – I’m an extremely anxious person and over think absolutely everything, things that seem normal to other people definitely don’t seem normal to me).
This guy hasn’t seen me since I was 16 years old, yes he’s seen pictures of me since and we’ve snapchatted but he still hasn’t seen me in person for 3 whole years, the image of me he has in his head is of who I was when I was 16, and I was definitely not that person anymore. I didn’t even think I looked like that anymore (obviously, because I’d grown up but that wasn’t my thought process at this point) – I hadn’t dyed my hair any crazy colours or shaved it all off but as a 19 year old, I definitely didn’t look like a 16 year old. Instantly I’m panicking, if I meet up with this guy, how am I going to look like my 16 year old self? Straight away I’m on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, anything. I’m looking at all the pictures I have of myself at 16 and analysing every single detail about myself.
Now, here’s the point that I want to make. All of these photos I had of my 16 year old self were selfies – I’m not saying we’re all catfishes or anything but everyone makes sure that the pictures they post of themselves on the internet look amazing, right? We take photos at angles to make our bodies look better or our faces look skinnier, people whiten their teeth or use anti blemishing effects on their skin, they style their hair in a certain way for the click of a button and that’s it, other people who see these photos then think that this person looks like that all the time.
In reality, they don’t. It’s the whole thing of taking 100 selfies and then posting the best one out of that whole bunch, people haven’t just taken one snap and posted it on Instagram, it’s all a much bigger process than that. I’m looking at these younger pictures of myself and thinking wow, I look really good, I definitely don’t look like that now. My hair looks so nice and I look so skinny and oh god 3 years later I don’t think I look like this anymore he’s going to see me and run.
Reality check – I literally looked exactly the same other than the fact my face and body had matured by 3 years. I got my friend to send me pictures she’d taken of me when I was 16 and I compared them to the selfies I’d taken and I was like yeah, I definitely didn’t look like those selfies all the time. The photos we take of ourselves and the photos other people take of us are two different things and I forgot that when I was panicking about the fact I’d made myself look amazing in these selfies and definitely didn’t feel like that in real life.
On social media nowadays I’m very aware of the fact that most things aren’t real – people only show you what they want you to see, people will take pictures with barely any clothes on and twist and distort their bodies to make it look like they have a flat stomach or a peachy bum and in reality, they don’t. That’s not me hating because, you do you girl – post pictures that make you feel good about yourself, you look amazing no matter what. But I know that the second the girl with the huge bum turns the camera off and her body goes back to its normal shape, her bum looks the same as everyone else’s. I know that as soon as the girl with the perfectly smooth and flat stomach sits down and relaxes, she’s going to have rolls of skin and fat just like everybody else. I know that the girl who takes a picture of her beautifully slim stomach when she first wakes up in the morning, doesn’t have that same flat stomach when she goes to bed at night, and again, this isn’t me hating – because I would do the same, everyone does the same. But these people aren’t superhuman; they’re just like everyone else. Skin stretches and folds because it’s skin, it’s elastic, it’s what it’s supposed to do. I used to be deceived by these images and yet I was posting them just like everybody else to the point where I then ended up deceiving my 19, nearly 20 year old self into believing I used to be something that I wasn’t.
Sometimes it just takes a reality check to bring you back down to Earth to realise we’re all human, no one has special powers that makes them immune to stretch marks and fat rolls, blemishes, untamed eyebrows, the list goes on. We’re all part of the same thing and we shouldn’t be deceived by what others choose to show us (especially ourselves).
I don’t really post many selfies these days and when I do, I find they’re very few and far between. I don’t like the idea that my worth or level of attractiveness is based around how many likes and comments I get and I definitely don’t like people talking to me just because of a selfie I’ve posted. I would much rather post a picture of the sunset rather than a selfie I took where I picked myself apart and exhausted myself going through endless poses to then select one photo out of 100 and know that when I posted it I still didn’t feel like it was enough. I want to have something to offer other than just my physical being, I want to offer words and kindness, to inspire people and make them believe that there’s something bigger and better than this. I want to empower people and create; I want to be one in a million because of my mind, not my face.
I hope you all know that you are beautiful inside and out, and if you ever look at your body and think “_____ doesn’t have that”, the chances are they do, and you know why? Because we’re all human.
And that’s a beautiful thing to be.
All my love,