Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stepping into "pretty"

Since my Gwynnie Bee feature went public, I have been getting a lot of nice comments from family and friends (and blog readers -- thank you so much!).  It has been a little awkward for me to accept the attention, as I always grew up thinking of myself as smart but not as pretty.  

I always had something -- glasses, acne, weight gain, bad 80s perms, unpopularity -- standing in the way.  I didn't think of myself as ugly either, just kind of ordinary.  That isn't to say I didn't have fun with makeup, clothes, big hair... but for me it was about self-expression.  

I always thought that there were a few beautiful people, and the rest of us got to move in their orbit as supporting players.  I think that junior high and high school do a pretty good job of installing that idea, and then college parties where everyone seems to be admiring that one gorgeous girl can do the rest. 

I don't feel that way anymore -- I don't think life is a beauty contest, or any other kind of contest.  I'm enjoying being who I am and looking like I look -- that isn't to say I'm being egotistical or think I'm better than anyone else. I think everyone can do this.  To quote Karen's comment on Facebook, beauty might just be a matter of "stepping into your lovely self" instead of being afraid to stand out.

I took the above photo on the same day I took my professional photo for campus. Every year this has been a terrible picture of me, and since it goes on all official school communications, I get to look at it a lot.  

This year, I had happened to have my hair cut that day so it was professionally styled, and since I was getting my picture taken, I did a nice natural look on my makeup and wore clothes that I thought would look good on camera. I have been taking more pictures of myself and I had just had a great photo shoot, so I thought this year would be different.  The photographer kept saying "big smile!" 

I looked at the digital proofs -- my professional photo still wasn't great -- it was yellowish and dark, and my hair looked like a helmet.  My smile was awkward and my teeth looked weird. 

Then I stepped outside in the sun and took a selfie, and it was one of the best pictures of my life.  It sort of knocked me out -- it wasn't me, it was the old-fashioned photography style and bad lighting that made the professional photo so terrible.  It was a concrete example of how I don't have to accept someone else's picture of things.

This week, I challenge you to do something to see yourself in a different light. 


  1. We use the Hair cut/style thing regularly. High school - ID pictures and yearbook pictures taken in summer/same day. It is open from 8am - 8pm. We schedule with stylist and then go directly to school. Makes whole picture thing far less stressful (for girls, with son, used to do cut about a week in advance).

    Too bad equipment makes you stuck with a picture you do not like, every year.

    1. It was sort of a lucky coincidence for me, but something to consider for the future.

      I can use my own photos for most things, the other is just for the official web page and other school communications.

  2. I've taken some GREAT selfies that I use professionally...

    Anyway, I am glad my comment resonated with seems to me that more and more women are embracing their beauty in a more natural way and it's such a relief. And while some decry the selfie movement as being narcissistic, I think for many of us it's had the opposite effect. The more we accept and step into our lovely selves, the more we show up for others!

    1. People are too quick to get worked up about things that don't hurt anyone. There is plenty of internet to go around, so a few selfies won't crowd out other important things.

  3. I love this. Great perspective!

  4. I have to agree with you on this post. For years I thought I was unphotogenic and basically sub par. Photos has become the main way my generation represents ourselves. A huge part of our communication is behind the photos we choose to represent ourselves. Selfies have always taken me more confidence to post because because there is that stigma of being vain or not having photos "naturally taken".

    But you know what? Selfies made me realize that it's all lighting and angles! I'm taller than most of my photographer friends! They take my picture and get a lens full of under jaw! Of course it looks funny.

    Relatively recently, I became done with looking at photographs and thinking "Am I really that bad?" or "Well. I guess there'll never be much special about me." Screw it. I'm just fine.

    This post couldn't have come at a better time. I've got a professional photo to be taken tomorrow and the picture is going to be used for all my residency applications. Wish me luck!


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07