How Photography Made Me Appreciate Natural Beauty
Do you enjoy scrolling Instagram accounts where every shot it perfectly posed? Where it looks like they had Annie Leibovitz or Alfred Eisenstaedt directing them? Not going to lie, I do enjoy those accounts myself. But after I got my camera, it got me thinking. Why are we so attracted to things that aren’t the every day norm? Why are we so attracted to the man that holding an arm full of puppies? Why are we so attracted to the woman who is posed in $120 jeans with the perfect sun beam? Honestly, that is something I will never truly be able to understand.
I have never been the type of woman to really make over myself. I spent most of middle school with my hair in a pony and rocking Billabong and Roxy. I was more into being comfortable than I was taking the extra time to appreciate my features. When I met Mr. Hound at 16, I put in a smidge more effort in order to impress him. Which now seems like such a waste. Now that I am about 7 months away from 30, I have found myself taking the time to make myself up. Even if I just have to run errands, I am applying things to my face and making even my messy bun attractive. At night I can be found applying an eye cream to prevent crows feet.
Honestly though, there are days where I wish I knew how to do my makeup like it was done professionally or that my hair wasn’t insanely thick so that I’d have the patience to curl it more. I wish these things because I have noticed that when I do my hair and apply my makeup, I walk with such confidence. My demeanor is morphed into that of a woman that knows what she wants and how to get it. I no longer feel ashamed of my flaws.
The other day, I was going through my file of “Need to Organize” photos. Yes, every photographer knows this folder and how scary it can become. I found this photo of my cousin. She had just had a baby a few hours prior to this photo. She looked amazing. Her hair wasn’t wild, her skin wasn’t flushed, she was glowing. She had asked that no photos of her be posted online but didn’t mind if the new baby was posted. I understood as a woman and a mom but thought, she is crazy. She looks fantastic. If I had looked that good after labor, I would have been calling everyone to take my photo with my new child. Society as a whole has been damaged. We have been scarred by the words of someone we don’t know saying something harsh about another human being that shares a similar trait to us. We began to criticize our own features and scold ourselves for having them.
I shot some photos of a family and not to sound vain but they turned out amazing. The family was so wonderful to work with and followed direction wonderfully. When I sent them the photos, the mom said she hated all of the ones of herself. She asked me to touch things up on her. Pointing out things that no one else would notice. I kept trying to reassure her that she looked fantastic and should be proud of herself. It broke my heart to see her upset over these images. I retouched the areas she asked and sent them back. She still wasn’t happy. It wasn’t my work, it was she wasn’t confident in her beauty.
When I am editing photos, I zoom in on them. I see things others may not want me to see. But here is the thing folks, we are all going to get older. We are all going to age. Yes, some do it as gracefully as a flower. Others, get results much sooner than hoped. It is learning to appreciate who you are. Appreciate what you have. Appreciate where you come from.
Big secret about me and something I honestly hate about myself; I have DNA that makes me fuzzy. Yes, fuzzy. I have super thick hair, Eugene Levy eyebrows, see-through blonde hair on my body and dark hair on my legs from my knees down (don’t ask me why, I’m not complaining because it could be dark on the rest of my legs and arms). As I have gotten older, I have learned that it comes from family. I mean, I honestly would have preferred to inherit an Italian Riviera home but this is what I got. It is who I am. I am the gal that wears glasses, still gets the random blemish, has stretch marks from pregnancy, morning breath that could kill a moose, love handles and is still as clumsy as I was in middle school basketball.
If we are not able to appreciate what we see in a photo without extreme editing, then how are we going to appreciate what we see in the mirror each morning? Now don’t forget that I did admit to loving those perfect Instagram accounts but that doesn’t mean I want them flooding my feed. What I appreciate is when someone is honest about themselves and shows that they are vulnerable. I was reading this one caption and she said, ” I spent hours getting ready for this photo. This photo took a matter of minutes to take. The things we do for our personal business.” First thought was, Geeze woman! If I don’t have to shower and dry my hair then I can be ready in 15 minutes. Then I thought, good for you for actually posting something that showed how silly we can be at times.
Look at a tree. A tree starts from something so small and grows into something majestic. It is constantly changing yet we do not look at the tree and tell it that it is ugly or malformed. We do not tell it to keep it’s leaves. When it changes, we smile and say how beautiful it looks. We see the changes each season and bask in them. I would hope that you remember to see the changes in yourself as something majestic and own them with pride.