Little over a week ago, something as simple as updating my Facebook profile photo turned into an internal dilemma about how society defines beauty.
As at writing this blog the photo in question has received:
1 text message
3 private messages
Now what really struck me about this was that as the compliments and reactions flooded in I began to begrudge them. Although I logically knew why this image was getting so much attention I was really rattled by how much of a difference there was between this and my previous image. I was upset that people didn’t notice or acknowledge (to the same degree – 1 love, 1 comment, 10 likes) my previous picture.
It made me really uncomfortable feeling like I was being ungrateful because I knew all 67 of those responses were intended as a compliment, yet for some reason they weren’t feeling that way to me and I needed to work out why this bothered me as much as it did. This is the conclusion I came to…. Well I wouldn’t call it a conclusion, I still have so many questions…. None the less, it’s what I came up with.
For simplicity, I’m going to refer to them as Old and New pics.
The ‘New’ profile picture is a photo that was taken over 12 months ago and never went anywhere because I was so preoccupied with what others thought of me that when I got one negative response there was no way I was going to put something like that out into the big world of the web for others to add to the burn. My ‘Old’ profile picture was taken only a matter of weeks ago during one of the most amazing experiences of my life; hunting with my dad. I stumbled back across the ‘New’ picture and thought why not, and so I just did it. What initially struck me was that when I was finally in a place where I couldn’t give a flying #$@^ what people thought of me was when all the approval and attention flooded in.
I’m was also quietly disappointed that (based on assumption) the reason this ‘New’ pic was getting so much attention was because of how closely it met the stereotypical requirements of what society deems beautiful – hair, make-up, taken in a studio, even what might be described as a little bedroom eye – and yet it ultimately lacks the heart so poignantly captured in a candid moment with my dad as we lay on the wet ground, amongst sheep shit and thistles, watching a fawn and her baby frolic.
I have received the most attention ever, at the time when I least need it……. and I realised what hurt. It’s that those moments when I needed someone to reach out and give me a little boost, they don’t look so ‘pretty’ and I found myself wondering how many times I’d overlooked several these types of photos or moments in the lives of people around me and this made me sad.
My lesson in all of this…... be very mindful of our own internal bias towards these (sometimes) horrible society standards; pay more attention to the things I am instantly drawn to and those that I too easily scroll past; to look beyond the image; and to accept compliments graciously!
Yes, this has largely been about Facebook, it’s applicable to so much more in life – almost to the point where it hurts my head to think about it right now.