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The “Selfie” Ruined My Self-Confidence

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I used to be a no-surprises kind of gal. I looked exactly the same whether I’d just rolled out of bed or whether I was out and about for the day. I didn’t really care about making my hair look perfect or painting layers of makeup on my face. I was the definition of low-maintenance: I simply piled my hair on top of my head and went about my day. Sometimes, if I thought about it, I’d “pull myself together” by swiping on a quick coat of mascara and maybe, just maybe, a thin layer of lip gloss. Sure, I loved glamming up as much as the next girl for a night out on the town or a special event. I wasn’t against makeup or in denial of thinking I looked flawless without it; I was just perfectly comfortable in my own natural skin.

I had no idea how lucky I was to feel that way back then. Now it seems almost necessary to carve out the extra time in the morning to hide my flaws and imperfections. In the middle of the morning chaos that comes with an early riser and getting out the door on time for preschool, I stop to put on my makeup. I scrub my face harder than I should, somehow thinking I can wash away the imperfections with a little soap and water, rubbing away years of sun damage, discolorations leftover from pregnancy, and the wrinkles that now line my eyes and forehead. When my flaws don’t magically disappear down the drain, I start the process of hiding them with things that come from bottles and tubes with only mild success. Eventually I give up and hope that the fact I’m wearing mascara, blush, and lipstick will be enough to distract from the fact that I still feel like a mess.

The sudden change didn’t come because I’m finally getting older. It didn’t even start when my dermatologist offhandedly told me I’d do great with some chemical peels and Botox, which would kill any young woman’s self-esteem. It came when I started turning the camera lens back on my self.

I’d heard the warnings and the sentiments that moms are never present in the family photo albums because they’re the ones so often taking the pictures. I didn’t want to be invisible in my son’s documented life. Since there’s not often someone else around to grab the camera, I started doing the easiest thing possible: pointing my phone’s forward-facing camera at myself and my son. There’s something about taking 100 different photos and deleting them until you find one that’s acceptable for other people to lay eyes on; over-editing it with blurry filters is another. There’s nothing pretty about a lens that’s strong enough to pick up every tiny detail as you hold it inches away from your face. But the worst part is when you forget to turn the forward-facing camera back around. When you innocently grab your phone to snap a picture of your kid doing something adorable and you’re met instead with a surprise close-up view of your own face staring back at you, harsher than any mirror could reflect. We know when we’re getting ready to look in a mirror, and thankfully we’re usually far enough away from it that we’re not getting a high-def view of every mark or imperfection. But that phone camera is a different story. I’ve shuddered and cringed too many times to count, not able to turn the camera around fast enough. The über-closeup was focusing on everything but what I really thought of myself.

My son’s too young to notice my shocked reaction to the camera, but even so, that’s not the message I want to be sending him. I don’t even like him seeing me put on makeup, trying to hide my true self, hoping to create a picture that’s not really there. Goodness knows I don’t want to see my child trying to hide his imperfections later in life. I want him to embrace himself and be confident with his appearance, his skills, and his abilities.

This is why I refuse to the let the selfie win. So what if the face that’s looking back at me isn’t the pristine, flawless face of youth? This is a face that’s weathered nearly three years of parenthood and almost as many years of sleepless nights. Years that I wouldn’t trade for all the gorgeous and wrinkle-free skin in the world. Maybe it’s just a reminder that, yet again, it’s important to be taking care of myself as a mom, too.

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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