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I’ve been conducting an experiment.
As a teen, I had very intense body dysmorphia; I tore myself apart.
Self love is still something I still struggle with.
Growing up, image was everything to my parents; the schools I could get into, the stature of the cheer squad I made, my body and appearance to my peers, etc.
I organized my Instagram in high school with nine pictures at most, edited them all to look similar, and deleted the ones that had 100 likes or less.
I made sure to not have more following than followers, catered each pic to be successfully ranking in likes, and hid my true self. My Twitter was similar in a way, all I wanted was for my words to go viral. I wanted my peers to think I was funny, worth sharing, inspiring, or creative.
That all changed about two years ago now coming up this fall after ridding myself of a mentally abusive partner and father.
I deleted everything, every account I had, took a year long break, and when I revamped Instagram and Snapchat, I followed/added only people I knew or inspiring pages.
Each image I post is interpretive, elusive, and meaningful to my life.
Some don’t even have captions, others have long explanations.
I turned off my notifications. I control when I look.
What’s so amazing about this transition of perception and control is I stopped caring so goddamn much about what people think of me. I allowed myself to make my social media, me.
Not who I want to be, not who I think I am, but pure me.
Without notifications, I didn’t obsess over comments or likes or follows or messages.
Without editing and catering every image, I learned to love an image as it is, and as I am.
This, obviously, means that my Instagram likes have gone down from 200+ per image to a range of 3-60 likes per image. The best part? I could care less.
With all of the movies and shows opening our eyes to this damage being done by social media: Ingrid Goes West, Incredibles 2 (the screenslaver), Black Mirror (basically any episode but specifically "Nosedive"), you think people would begin to understand social media is only damaging if you allow it to be.
Appearance is important in some forms, obviously you want to look your best for a date, or an interview, or clients... but where does it end? Where do we stop picking ourselves apart for every "negative," and start loving ourselves as we are?
My main source of income is a fine jewelry designer and bench jeweler. When I first started, I began at Jared as a repair liaison, which meant I had to wear a blazer with tights and heels, or a suit. My image was very important to the company, and with most jewelry companies, it always is. After my work there, I began at a men's wedding band manufacturing company. This company had 100+ employees in a large, dark warehouse, and of those employees, I was trained as a "finisher," which means I'm given a ring fresh from being cut from a giant tube of metal. I sand, polish, and carve a texture into it, steam and clean it off, then off it goes to the customer.
With all the polishing compounds, cleaning agents, fine metal dusts, and so on that consists in jewelry making, I had to wash my wash nearly three times a day, not only to manage my seemingly adult acne, but also just to rid my eyes and nostrils of these black boogers that accumulated. It went from wearing makeup on a daily basis as a necessity, to needing to not wear makeup to work just to keep clean.
As a woman, at first, this idea that I wasn't put together without it ate at me. I looked at my face in confusion wondering who I even was with makeup not in the equation. This was my daily dilemma, but I began taking pictures of my face as it was. Fast forward to now, two years later, and I only wear makeup when I want to look extra sexy, because I LOVE my face with or without it.
I also realized how much stronger I was. Having the power to show all the way up anywhere, without a face full of makeup with full confidence is POWERFUL. Everyone wants to consistently edit their imperfections and neglect highlighting the qualities that are truly amazing.
Social media is dangerous in a way, as we allow it to be, but the constant scrolling becomes addictive. I find that what's so addictive about it is comparison. As you watch the world around you post about success, heartwarming stories, growth, change, we become obsessed with the idea that everyone else has a perfect life, when in reality they are only sharing the wins. I even find it hard to post about my failures or imperfections, it's almost as though posting about it is validating that it happened, and that the imperfections are there.
Failure and imperfection in my mind isn't truly so, it's growth in itself. Failure is only failure if you let it be. Imperfection is based on opinion. Everything in this world is about perception, and accepting failure as a lesson is the first step to growth. Accepting imperfection is an opportunity to change. You try you best, you fail, and then you learn and take a different and new approach.