I’m always down to do something for a good cause, especially if it’s as easy as snapping a pic, but I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I could manage it this time.
As someone who routinely puts myself out there, you’d think this would be no big deal. I mean, if there is a chronic over-sharer—it’s me.
I’ve talked about my past drug habits, my one-time job as a stripper, my abusive ex-husband, my insecurities as a yoga teacher, as a mother, as a lover (and all the other things I am), my phobia about answering the door, my stinky dogs, the size of my butt, the egg I ate that I still feel guilty about, and everything in between.
So a no-make up selfie to help keep the conversation about breast cancer awareness relevant should be a no brainer—right?
I was asked to participate by a Facebook friend, Roshni Sharma (coolest name ever), who had just posted her own no make up selfie and tagged me and a bunch of other women in the post inviting us to join her.
The first thing I noticed about her image was the fact that half of her naked face was hidden behind a large, professional looking camera.
“Well,” I thought, “That’s one way to do it.” I wondered what I could find to hide behind.
Then I read her words:
“So I hesitated a lot before doing this ‘no make up selfie’ for breast cancer awareness. To be honest about it, it’s [hard] showing my non-made-up self to people en masse…but I realized that all this breast cancer awareness stuff has a deeper message than just playful and disconnected ‘games’—they bring out discussion (or at least have the capacity to) about being authentic…I’ve always been self conscious about my skin, and it’s hard to disconnect self esteem from physical appearance, especially in todays society. So, another layer of the onion is peeled off, out of my second closet for the day, even though I’m still half hiding behind the camera…”
I could have written that myself.
For all my bold forays into the land of no holds barred, for all the verbal x-rays I’ve pinned up on the light box of my writing, there has been one thing I have fiercely (and inauthentically) protected: the way that I look.
I cull and I glean my public images—and even my private ones, the stuff that goes in photo albums only family will ever see—with meticulous care. If I find an unflattering picture of me has somehow slipped through the filter, I immediately get rid of it before my ugliness has time to burn itself on my retinas and ruin my day.
If I conceal the fact that I have wrinkles, or bags under my eyes, or a weird nose, or a jiggly tummy, or a dimpled butt, maybe I can maintain this false image of myself as (sort of) perfect.
God, it’s exhausting running from reality all the time.
I recently posted an article about LDS women who sought to reclaim their personal power by sitting for nude photos. I praised their bravery and willingness to put their un-edited, un-photoshopped naked bodies out there without apology.
I am not yet as brave as those women—I will need to work hard to gain the level of self confidence and humility that they have—but this is one small step in the right direction.
It’s something I can do.
So here I am, fresh out of bed, scared, smiling and hoping to believe in my own imperfect beauty.
And if I’m being completely honest—which is what this is all about anyway—I didn’t just do it for breast cancer awareness—I did it for me too.
For more no make up selfies, click here.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: Author’s own