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.