Have you ever worked to get things “just so” for that perfect selfie? Applied makeup. Arranged your hair. Found the perfect source of lighting and the perfect angle — you know, the one that doesn’t show the bags under your eyes or the fact that you really have two chins.
Of course, your work is not done once you snap that perfect picture. Far from it, in fact. You still have to use just the right filter and crop out the bits that aren’t perfect, such as that stray piece of hair that just won’t behave or that pile of (probably not clean) laundry that occupies your kitchen table, because who wants someone’s dirty socks in your glamorous selfie?
You know you’ve done it. You also know pictures like that don’t represent real life.
For instance, this Instagram photo from popular blogger Tova Leigh, whose Facebook page My Thoughts About Stuff has almost half a million fans.
I keep seeing ads for corsets everywhere. You know, the ones that suck your belly in and make your waist look tiny while also giving you constipation. Well, let me tell you something: Last time I wore any type of corset was on my wedding day, exactly 8 years ago. I remember hiding behind a massive bush in the garden, and my mom loosening the damn thing cos I could barely breathe. Sure, after that my boobs didn't look as fab as they did when the day started, but I was actually able to eat the food I had paid for and do another amazing thing – it's called sitting down. So unless It is officially the 17th century again, I'd like to ask whoever came up with the idea that women in 2017 need to look like Jessica Rabbit, to kindly shove their corsets up their ass and let me enjoy my mom tum in peace. ♡♡♡ #BodyImage #moms #mums #motherhood #MomLife #parenting #parents #reallife #family #love #bodyshaming #fuckbodygoals
We love Tova for her raw honesty and her “keep it real” perspective on life and motherhood. And, when I say we I do mean we. If you haven’t checked out Tova’s blog yet, that’s okay. Trust me, you love her, too. You just might not know it yet.
In the caption of her Instagram photo, Leigh told a story about corsets — you know, the kind of torture device you wear under a wedding gown or other fancy dress that cinches your waist and squishes your boobs upward. And the message that accompanied the gorgeous photo was crystal clear: Be real. Be you.
“Unless it is officially the 17th century again, I’d like to ask whoever came up with the idea that women in 2017 need to look like Jessica Rabbit, to kindly shove their corsets up their ass and let me enjoy my mum tum in peace,” she wrote.
But Leigh began to feel remorse for posting the photo, after she read an article about how people — and in particular, teenagers — feel depressed and insecure due to all of the perfect images they see plastered across Instagram. All at once, she saw the photo in a new light, and realized it didn’t quite fall in line with her “keep it real” message after all.
That’s also when she did something extraordinary — something I’m willing to bet all you selfie takers out there might be somewhat uncomfortable with.
She shared the behind-the-scenes photo of what the first image didn’t show you. The one that revealed what the beautifully filtered and cropped selfie left out: a mom in all her glory, bent over the kitchen counter in her underwear. Her hair isn’t perfect and neither is her body. But it’s 100 percent real.
Last week I shared the "perfect" selfie on Instagram (see the small image on the bottom left). It got a whole lot of "…
“THIS IS REAL,” Leigh wrote in the caption. “In all my mum tum, cellulitis, granny pants and absolutely zero thigh gap glory. Not the perfect sexy body by some dictated standard, but imperfectly fabulous because it is real and it is mine.”
Not surprisingly, the second photo has gone viral since she first shared it on May 28, because let’s face it — we can all relate to it. None of us are perfect and we need to stop trying to use social media to make the world think we are, and to convince ourselves that perfection is something we should try to attain. This second picture makes me feel better about my own mum tum, my messy house, my decidedly unsexy underpants, and pretty much everything else.
“I am the mother of three girls,” says Leigh, “and the whole idea of social media and how it is not real and does not really represent real life really worries me for them.”
But this one picture is changing the norms of social media for a lot of girls.
“I was very hesitant about sharing the behind the scenes image,” Leigh tells Babble. “I am a shy person and don’t tend to share pictures of myself in my granny pants for the whole world to see, but I am happy I did so on this occasion. I felt I had to say something and that a picture would make it clearer than anything else.”
The bottom line is, we are all imperfect. We all have flaws and things we don’t like about our bodies. Think about this picture the next time you pull a muscle trying to hoist your Spanx over your ass. Think about this picture the next time you tell the woman in the mirror that she’s not good enough. Think about this picture the next time you’re trying to decide if spending 30 minutes on choosing an Instagram filter for your selfie is a good use of your time. And think about this picture the next time you want to hide your mum tum behind a throw pillow when your kids just want a picture with their mama.
Because this picture is all of us.