I look like what I look like

7:26 AM

Yesterday a friend shared two photos on facebook comparing 13-year-old girls when she was growing up and today. (Couldn't find that exact image, Today's 13yo is perfectly coiffed, contoured and knows already how to play to her camera angles. Her photo has props, good lighting and is immaculately edited. In fact, where exactly is she? Per the photo, that's not important. In terms of documentation, it's another beautiful day in her beautiful life and she has turned 13 as the helium balloons spell out for us.

The 13yo of old is awkward, bending in half backward to be silly, wearing zero make up and at the skating rink where lighting is purposefully terrible.
The vast difference in these two images conveys so much about how our culture has changed. And the implications are way more than skin deep.

There's no reason to hate on the undoubtedly gorgeous 13-year-old, although it's interesting that you do feel a sense of sorrow for her in contrast with the other girl who is free to be more authentically herself in this moment.

Learning your best, most confident look is a major milestone in the growth of a woman. For each person, that can certainly vary a lot. But regardless, it does typically take time, in my case decades, to find your stride. All those efforts (and many, many flops) leading up to that point were part of making me who I am.

Now, you can actually pass Go, collect $200 of Fenty and with the help of YouTube and a good filter, look like a full grown woman, yet you're still 13... with all of its horrible feels, natural immaturity and, in my case anyway, destructive behavior. It sounds terrible, like that Jennifer Garner movie where she's a kid trapped in a grown woman's body.

There has always been pressure to be beautiful, but now there's an added layer of pressure to also convey that you are beautiful. To communicate it daily. For some, that means daily selfies. In some cases, 200 a day. In some cases more. With that much focus on your self, it's a wonder we're getting anything accomplished. I'm guilty too. I don't want to post a hideous photo of myself, and there are dozens and dozens of those on my phone I have owned less than two months. But the fact is, I look like what I look like. I shouldn't have to take 10 photos to share an image of myself. And yet I do.

I believe in feeling yourself. I believe in having a good hair day that you want to document. But I think grown women also have an obligation now to share their real daily look because there isn't enough realness out there for young women to gravitate toward. I do love these lo-key makeup brands that are popping up all over. But I still feel like you have to be an actual model to pull those off, or at least, the commercials imply that.

I look like what I look like. Good selfie angles won't change how you see me when we meet in person. Even makeup can only assist so much. But there are way more important goals I'm working toward on the daily. How do I get to the place where my look is the least important thing about me?

Postscript: If you work in the beauty/fashion industry, then looking good and/or sharing how to look good, is your job. If you're a photographer, beautiful portraits may be part of your job. You are not the problem. We the people demanding perfect-looking people in all media we want to devour, we are the problem. But I do think you can help. 

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All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure. - Mark Twain