Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How Do I Look?

Right now, I'm wearing really mis-matched work-out clothes (complete with blue and orange argyle socks, and two different shades of lime green).  I feel gross and sweaty.  I also feel great, because I just finished a good workout.
You won't see me post a picture of myself in this state anywhere on social media.

This weekend, on Saturday, I was wearing a fantastic dress my mom made for herself shortly after she married my Dad.  I had the perfect jewelry to complement it.  I felt like a million bucks, as they say.
You didn't see me post a picture of myself in that state anywhere on social media either.

While I do post a lot, and I mean a LOT, of pictures of the world around me, I post "selfies" very rarely.  In fact, I used to joke about posting an "annual selfie."
I also rarely post pictures of myself in general - "group selfies," so to speak.

A friend recently shared this link on Facebook, and it resonated with me.

I don't know anything about this girl, or if I would agree with anything else she's ever said, but my heart responded to "I guess this is human nature to give feedback on our appearances..." and "Easiest way to [cater to the Facebook algorithm]?  Share pictures of my face, body and things based on my appearance."

I immediately knew she was right.  Despite the infrequency of selfies I post, I have noticed that I get considerably more likes on them than almost anything else I post.  This alone has been disturbing to me, so I decided to do a little research on my own Facebook profile:

Since March, the average amount of likes on any picture that I've posted, which features my face, body, and/or things based on my appearance is 19.
The average amount of likes on any other picture I've posted is 10.

There is something wrong with this.

I've never been sure how to put my thoughts on selfies into words, but this experience helped me to process through some of them at least.

I haven't struggled much at all with insecurity about my appearance, and I am so so so thankful for that.
I am just as affected by "likes" on my pictures as is the next person.  I'm not proud of that.
I find myself obsessively checking to see if anyone has liked the latest thing I posted, and I also find myself obsessively making every picture of anything "perfect" so as to appeal to the most people.

Let's just be honest, maybe there are a few people in the world who don't make their selfies "perfect" before posting them, but in reality, most of those nonchalant look-at-me-all-sweaty-and-smiling-after-a-great-workout pictures were taken from something like 12 slightly different angles and sent through at least 5 different filters before they were posted.  And the same goes for the perfectly posed look-at-me-all-gussied-up-and-celebrating-my-friend's-birthday pictures.

You guys!  If I analyzed pictures of myself as much as I analyze my other pictures, or even as much as other people presumably analyze their selfies, I'd go insane, and probably start having all those insecurities I just established that I am grateful to live without.

No thanks. I'd prefer not to open Pandora's Box.

It is indeed human nature to give feedback on our appearances, and I think (hope?) maybe a lot of the likes on selfies are simply an acknowledgement of bravery, because it is seriously brave to post a close-up picture of yourself on the internet for everyone to see, regardless of how many re-takes you took.

But we are so so so much more than just what we look like, and I personally kinda like who I actually am outside of my appearance.  I also kinda hate the idea of people deriving their worth from how much other people like the way they look.  I try to be careful about what I "like" from people, and what I complement them on in real life.  Yeah, I tell people when they look beautiful, or that I like their clothes, but I try to also tell them how beautiful their heart is, or how much I love the way they smile at strangers on the street.

Personally, I don't want to be known for how I look, but for how I look at the world around me.