Aging Gracefully

As I’ve noted numerous times in prior posts, since the months leading to and subsequent to my 29th birthday this past May, I’ve struggled considerably with growing older. Perhaps it’s really not the age or number itself I fear, but rather all I feel should go along with it. In my life, there are often a lot of “shoulds,” “I wish,” or reflections upon situations I could have handled differently. Too often, I compare myself to others of a similar age, longing for the “characteristic” life I feel they have or portray, without acknowledging their own struggles or hardships. It’s similar to celebrity singer and actress, Selena Gomez, who appears in ads, concerts, and magazines flaunting her pristine hair, makeup and clothing, but privately struggling and ultimately undergoing a lifesaving kidney transplant. From looking at her, I, myself, never would have guessed she was in kidney failure, or even ill with lupus. That’s the thing, though, people so often look at someone and based off their appearance deem them healthy or not. Shiny hair, pristine makeup and clothing, a bubbly personality – none of that is an indicator of health, or at least certainly not always. What appears on the outside is not always indicative of what’s unraveling inside.

With that being said, I recently started to contemplate a news story I heard and was intrigued by. One of the magazines I closely followed and read in the past, Allure Magazine, proudly declared last month they would no longer use the term “Anti-Aging.” So often, I’ve read seemingly countless articles instructing women and even men, on all the latest products and techniques specifically formulated to “combat all signs of aging.” In these articles, without so many words, it suggests aging is something to be feared, or to be disguised and avoided at all costs. A wrinkle around your eye area? Lines around your mouth? Sagging skin? All of these aforementioned supposed, “signs of aging,” come with specifically-formulated products to help avoid, disguise and discourage and are often touted in magazines and store shelves.

Growing Older Quote

Feeling as though they’d finally had enough, Allure Magazine took the first steps towards what I see as progress and a notion I wish I embraced many years ago, but most specifically in the months leading to and after my most recent birthday. In their words in last month’s issue of Allure, they stated, (via – https://www.allure.com/story/allure-magazine-phasing-out-the-word-anti-aging)

Allure Magazine – August 2017:

“This issue is the long-awaited, utterly necessary celebration of growing into your own skin – wrinkles and all. No one is suggesting giving up retinol. But changing the way we think about aging starts with changing the way we TALK about aging. With that in mind, starting with this issue, we are making a resolution to stop using the term, “anti-aging.” Whether we know it or not, we’re subtly reinforcing the message that aging is a condition we need to battle.”

If there’s one inevitability in life, it’s that we’re getting older. Every minute. Every second. We produced a video recently that featured 64-year-old gray-haired Jo Johnson, who made the poignant observation that aging should be appreciated because “some of us don’t get an opportunity to age.” Repeat after me: Growing older is a wonderful thing because it means that we get a chance, every day, to live a full, happy life.

Language matters. When talking about a woman over, say, 40, people tend to add qualifiers: “She looks great…for her age” or “She’s beautiful…for an older woman.” Catch yourself next time and consider what would happen if you just said, “She looks great.” Yes, Americans put youth on a pedestal. But let’s agree that appreciating the dewy rosiness of youth doesn’t mean we become suddenly hideous as years go by.”

Courage to Grow Up

After reading this statement and their stance on aging, I couldn’t be happier or more proud. Throughout the years, I’ve been an on/off reader of Allure, but after reading their declaration, their concept resonates with me beyond words. It summons a quote I read not long ago, which read: “Do not fear growing older, it is a privilege denied to many.”

Growing Older Quote 2

Isn’t it true though, when thinking about it? Countless infants, children, teens, young adults, even adults in middle-age, have succumbed to accidents, illnesses, and beyond; ultimately denied the opportunity to age. Instead of fearing aging, it can be seen as a chance to “ripen,” to gain knowledge and understanding. Instead of fearing aging, it can be embraced, wise words can be shared with younger generations and even our own generations. We all have stories to tell, experiences waiting to be recounted, and growing older gives us this opportunity.

 

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A Wristful of Words: Wear it, Share it, Believe it

Note: This is the first blog post of a three-part series, which will continue through the week (identified as “Believe It” – Blog Post #1, “Share It” – Blog Post #2,Wear It” – Blog Post #3) Please check back for the two other posts detailing the company (Little Words Project) and my experiences with them.

Little Words Project “Believe It”Blog Post #1

Since childhood, jewelry has always stood out to me. Not only is jewelry something to adorn myself with, but it is of much personal meaning. In my early childhood years, I can recall accumulating shoeboxes and shoeboxes full of costume jewelry, filling my arms with charm bracelets, character necklaces, and beyond. More importantly, the jewelry I wear and choose has evolved through the years as a means of communication and self-expression. Some of the jewelry I own can take me back to poignant moments in my life, such as my graduation from college, my first professional job, and my sister’s wedding. Therefore, one frigid afternoon this past Winter, I unexpectedly received a special delivery in the mail which proved to impact me on levels beyond my expectations.

It was a day this past Winter season filled with much sadness and reflection. The job where I’d been employed for several months dramatically came to an abrupt end. With that being said, I was left feeling at a loss, contemplating and wondering where my life path would take me. Lacking confidence and courage at that moment, I heard a knock at the door and reluctantly made my way to open it. A small brown box sat outside my doorstep, with my name imprinted on the front. Unsure as to what it was, given I was not expecting a delivery, I carefully opened it and revealed a surprise gift from one of my favorite cosmetic companies, IT Cosmetics and another small box with a beautiful, sparkling bracelet, which read: Confidence in block letters. A couple weeks prior, I’d entered a contest, not anticipating a win, and hadn’t received a winner notification. Therefore, that afternoon, the delivery came as a surprise, a much-needed and appreciated gift at that moment, when life felt particularly difficult and near impossible to navigate. Though I was excited to have won a small jar of an IT Cosmetics cream, I was more intrigued by the bracelet and interpreted it as a sign. For me, confidence has always been a trait to aspire to. So often, I criticize and chastise myself for everything I believe I’m not and cannot do, rather than celebrating and owning all I can do. Seeing the word confidence on a bracelet with a band of sparkling crystals was all the sign I needed to know that maybe life truly was going to be okay. Perhaps this was merely a stumble in the road or my path to where I truly should be and that really, all I needed to move forward was this very word, now covering my wrist – Confidence.

LWP Confidence

A small gold medallion dangled from the bracelet with a name imprinted on one side and a code on the other. Curious as to what it read and eager to learn of the company behind this intriguing bracelet, I closely examined the medallion and read – Little Words Project. Immediately, I headed to my phone to research the company and was enthralled with all I read. From that moment on, I knew Little Words Project was both a company and initiative I’d wholeheartedly support and come to be quite fond of.

By now, you might be wondering, what exactly is Little Words Project? Without further adieu, here is a brief synopsis of not only a jewelry company, but a movement of many calibers, uniting women of all ages and beyond:

Little Words Project Symbol

Website Information: The official website; littlewordsproject.com provides extensive information regarding company history, product information, and host of other resources.

Little Words Project (LWP) Origin (via littlewordsproject.com): Started by Adriana Botti, the idea which later became LWP began as a project initially conjured during her high school years to provide her with positive reminders as inspiration and reassurance. As the unfortunate subject of bullying through the years since the 4th grade, Adriana realized much of the cruelty persisted even through later years as young women and adults and made the choice to join a sorority. Through joining the sorority, Adriana credits her experience of learning the meaning friendships and bonds. As a result, Little Words Project was born during Adriana’s sophomore year, as bracelets with encouraging and supportive words, such as “Be Fearless,” “Smile,” “Strength” and “Be Happy.” Seeing the bracelets immediate popularity within her sorority, upon graduating, she officially launched Little Words Project as what Ariana hopes will “inspire a culture of kindness among women young and old.”

LWP Girls

LWP Mission: As described on the official LWP website, their mission exists as a means to, “Unite women of all ages in one common goal: to be a go-to company for jewelry that’s uplifting, to be shared with yourself, your loved ones or anyone who could use some extra kindness.

LWP Bracelets: At the heart of LWP are the bracelets available in a vast array of bands, words and symbols, each with their own unique color, style, meaning and number as means of identification and tracking.

LWP Bracelets

  • When purchasing a LWP bracelet, you’ll receive much more than the Swarovski crystal-constructed bracelet with an inspirational word. Though beautiful and delicately crafted in itself, its mission and culture only adds to its beauty.
  • Upon becoming a LWP bracelet-owner, you’ll enter the official Little Words family and as the LWP website states, “Being a member of this community connects you to women of all ages who have already engaged with our movement and have found comfort in our mission.”

LWP Project Info

LWP Buying and Selection Process: Intrigued yet? Here is a step-by-step process of how exactly making a Little Words Project purchase works:

LWP Pick   LWP Register             LWP Pass

  • Choose from one of the many inspiring words, bands and colors available via the official LWP website (littlewordsproject.com) or one of the retailers supplying the bracelets as listed on the website.
  • Upon purchasing a LWP bracelet, be sure to venture over to the “Register Your Little Word” section on the LWP website or app and register the unique number found on your gold tag (attached to the bracelet)
  • Wear your bracelet for as long as you want.
  • Upon meeting someone who might need the word on your bracelet, pass it on and advise her to register the bracelet for herself.

Follow along your bracelet’s journey by checking the tag’s status and witness the powerful impact your word (and purchase!) can make.

Social Media: As a company and initiative, LWP is extremely active and communicative on their various social media accounts and prides itself in being open and interactive with their followers and customers (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram):

  • Facebook = @littlewordsproject
  • Twitter = @littlewordsproj
  • Pinterest = @littlewordsp
  • Tumblr = littlewordsproject.tumblr.com
  • Instagram = @littlewordsproject

Official App: LWP even has their own app available for download in the App store with loads of information, the ability to register your LWP bracelet, interact with other Little Words owners, sales, news and much, much more! When downloading the app, you’ll receive not only pertinent information but also will become a member of the LWP community.

My Personal Reaction: Learning more and more about LWP as a company that very day upon receiving my first LWP bracelet, I knew they’d secured me as not only a customer, but as a true believer in their goals and initiatives. As someone who has personally battled through my own issues with self-esteem, harsh criticisms and poor body image, learning of a company like LWP who strives to support, encourage and advocate for women, is comforting and reassuring to me. To be able to look down on my arm and physically see an encouraging or supportive word reminding me of my strength, courage and capabilities, is a gift to me in more ways than one:

Little Things Mean the Most

Second Blog Post (“Share It”): With this being said, it leads to me the topic of my second blog post. Later this week, join me for an insider look at how Little Words Project is truly giving back to women and society in more ways than one.

In this next post, learn more about the reasons why LWP resonates so deeply within me. Without disclosing the heart of this next post, prepare to be overcome with emotion when discovering a purchase of a LWP bracelet not only affords you with a beautiful piece of custom jewelry, but a means to grow and support organizations and people in need (“Little Words that Give Back“)

LWP Inspiration

Words that Heal

Perhaps you’ve had days like me, where words someone says or doesn’t say can dramatically impact your thoughts, feelings and overall demeanor. They can repeat and circle endlessly within the mind, never ceasing, not if for a brief moment. Sometimes, they even stretch beyond what they initially were, eating away at us, suffocating our willingness to take chances, limiting our confidence and ultimately, can silence us. With that being said, there is also the ability for someone’s words to have a dramatically opposite effect – one that lifts us, one that inspires us, or simply makes us feel noticed, acknowledged and recognized. These words can come in the simplest of ways – an acknowledgement of our style, a talent, a facial feature, anything, really. Though, no matter how “small,” these words or acknowledgements may seem on the surface, what they can do for us inward, is a whole other impact, one that just might change someone’s life.

To better explain what I mean by this, I was simply scrolling through Facebook this afternoon, when I stumbled across a quote my friend shared. It was a quote/series of thoughts that deeply resonated with me, so profoundly so that it inspired this very blog post, prompting me to share it with those of you who might be reading. This is what I mean:

compliment-poem

After I read this, I contemplated all it meant to me for awhile. It led me back to my first job out of college, where I worked at a nonprofit organization facilitating various programs and doing a bit of grant writing. During my time there, I was fortunate enough to meet countless amounts of people who are filled with greatness, intelligence and talent. One woman in particular, a member of the community coalition affiliated with the organization I worked for, stood out to me, but not only to me, my fellow coworkers, as well. We agreed she embodied strength and an undeniable aura of kindness and reassurance. From merely chatting with her for moments, I could sense the compassion and depth within her. When she spoke to others, she connected in such a way that had the ability to make nearly anyone she spoke to feel heard and recognized. Though I didn’t know her well, certain words and conversations she and I shared still cross my mind, today. Every Thanksgiving, I think of when she told me of the tradition she and her friend share: visiting the hotel directly located within the path of Philadephia’s annual Thanksgiving Day Parade and sharing tea together, with a view facing the parade. From my understanding, they lived a distance from each other, but would always visit in that hotel restaurant each Thanksgiving, delighting in each others’ company and sharing in the Thanksgiving Day parade festivities.

Meeting her brought a newfound confidence to me, in talking and complimenting others. Sure, I’d issued compliments to others such as great shoes or hairstyle, or outfit, but at that time, it was hard for me to recall ever really complimenting someone other than my family, about their personality and ability to connect with others. With this particular woman, it was different. In one of our few conversations, I wished her well, as she made her way out of the office to continue to her day, but before she did, I complimented her on her optimism and compassion, her willingness to help and to hear others, to give them a voice,  to allow them to share and to truly recognize all they were saying. Having the ability to make someone not only feel listened to, but HEARD, is a rare quality in itself and I felt it was necessary for me to take the chance to compliment her on this.

admire-beauty

So today, I urge you, if you haven’t already, to issue someone a compliment, no matter how small it may seem to you, to them, it could brighten their day – it could very well be the only positive thing they hear today, or almost any day. Even when we don’t feel our best, we can always do something to make others feel good, because I know for myself, when feeling down, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

compliment-quote

Closure by Inquiry

Just over five years ago, I was 23 and employed full-time in a profession I loved, which more or less fell into my lap one day.  One moment, I was unemployed, desperately searching for a career, unaware if my degree would prove fruitful and the next instant, I was helping to impact people’s lives on a daily basis. Battling self-esteem issues the majority of my life, I was still highly critical of myself, but slowly managing to combat these emotions in a more constructive way as time progressed.

Longing for a romantic relationship of some kind, or at least someone to date, I met a guy who intrigued me, but also sent perplexing thoughts through my mind. He was three years my senior, working in a high-level position and for one reason or another, captivated me. Still to this day, I never quite understood what it was about him that stirred such emotions within me. That being said, I was enthralled with him from day one, yet we never could seem to figure each other out. We were never “together” per se and much of our communication was conducted via text message. He and I lived a distance from each other (the suburbs for me, him – the city). Though I had a car, I was desperately fearful of city-driving, hailing from the suburbs my entire life. As an anxious person, driving in the city, or even the mere thought of driving in the city, frightened me beyond words. My fear of driving in the city erroneously translated to him as me not wanting to see him and rather than explain myself, I suppose I allowed him to believe it.

Time passed and he moved away years later, back to his hometown thousands of miles and states away. No words were exchanged, but for years, I still thought of him and wondered if he followed suit. At some points, we would exchange text messages, but never made concrete plans to see each other again, or travel to one another. Still, in the back of my mind, I always wondered what could have been or what it could or may lead to. Perhaps it is the romantic in me, or quite possibly, I read too many novels, but the idea of us somehow “finding each other” after all these years, left me swirling with contentment and contemplation.

Then, roughly two days ago, my fate was more or less sealed when it came to him. Knowing he was living in the midst of the Hurricane currently plaguing portions of the US and outside areas, I fretted and contemplated texting him. My inability to text him at the first thought was my fear of him being in a relationship and not responding to me, or at my worst fear, him exchanging a hurtful message to me. Still, I couldn’t live with me not inquiring after him to learn if he was safe or not. Summoning the minuscule amounts of courage left within me, I bravely tapped out a message to him, reading none another than, “Hey, how have you been?” To me, it was innocent, but friendly, a friend simply inquiring after another friend. There were no romantic implications in that, or so I believed.

A short amount of time later, his number was swiftly deleted from my phone, tears began to fill my eyes and the ruminating and disparaging remarks directed towards me filled my head. “How foolish I felt. How stupid I was, how grossly ashamed I was. I was undeserving, ugly, to be ignored and forgotten of. How idiotic I was to have thought I could have meant something to someone like him.” This disparaging inward monologue transpired within my mind for much of the evening. Instructed to delete his phone number, because he was “dating the woman he intends to marry,” I was filled with shock and an inability to initially comprehend all I read. Sure, I can understand if he is with someone else, it is his right and prerogative, but to have sent me such a hurtful message as that, to me, is unacceptable and not to mention, undeserving. What did I do to deserve such a message, I asked myself? All I merely asked him was how he was. I struggled to come to this conclusion, but when I ultimately did, I decided I was proud of myself for who I am. I’m proud that I was a big enough person to ask after him, because I was concerned about his wellbeing as a person who I believed was living in the storm zone. There was nothing romantic about my inquiry. Therefore, it is him who should be regretful. Him, who should feel guilty because of the language he used and the harsh tone of his words. It is not me to be reprimanded or who should feel ashamed, I’m proud that I am caring, I’m proud that I am brave and I’m also proud that I took the time to speak my truth through this blog post, because if it happened to me, it’s happened to others, as well. So, whenever you feel the urge to berate yourself because of someone else’s words toward you,  remember that the way someone behaves or speaks to you is not a reflection of you, but a reflection of them, as a person.

I’m glad I learned now, rather than later; it is the closure I needed and in the wise words of someone I know, “Beauty is what you feel inside, not what you see the mirror.”

Perspective by the Quote

Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and relaxing one, thus far. A couple of days ago, I had every intention of posting this very post, but unfortunately, several unfortunate occurrences seemed to interfere.

Never Quit

Between the issues related to the wireless network/router and my laptop, to the minor settings issue with my iPhone, it was frustrating and difficult to feel as though it wasn’t my fault, or beyond my control. When I found myself becoming stressed and overwhelmed, I turned to what I most often do – quotes. For those who know me well, or have been reading my blog for even a brief time, quotes are something I highly value and feel it helps me keep situations and life, in general, in perspective. Needless to say, I managed to stumble across several quotes this past week (most were tweeted by one of my favorite TODAY Show anchors, Hoda Kotb) which I found to be inspiring, motivating and comforting. The last quote I found (which you’ll see pictured, below) is from a necklace I happened to spot while browsing at Kohl’s with my sister and niece. Initially, I spotted it a couple weeks ago and then several days ago, we visited Kohl’s again and since the quote had been on my mind since first seeing it, but I couldn’t recall the specifics of it, I was able to locate it and snap a quick photo to share.

Quotes of the Week:

  • “And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
  • “People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.”
  • “With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.”
  • “You’re the wish my heart made.”

Disney Necklace

 

 

 

 

Worthy of Being You

The following post will probably be one of the most impromptu I’ve ever written, thus far. Just moments ago, I was mindlessly perusing Twitter as I so often do, throughout the day and stumbled across a tweet from one of my many favorite magazines, Good Housekeeping. I’ve read the magazine for years despite not being in their specifically targeted age demographic and have always found something I could relate to, no matter what. That being said, this morning’s tweet featured a link to an article written by bestselling author, Jennifer Wiener, published in the August 2015 issue of the magazine. After quickly reading the article, I felt overly inspired and more than compelled to both tweet about it, as well as craft a blog post surrounding it.

Good Housekeeping   Jennifer Weiner

A link to the Good Housekeeping article: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/a33462/insult-hurt-self-confidence/

If you’re not a follower of Good Housekeeping on social media, a reader of the magazine, or familiar with them at all, I wanted to share it with whomever may be reading, because I feel as though it is an article that can be used as inspiration, support, awareness and may come as a realization, that we are not alone in some of the sentiments we may experience on a daily basis. For me, this post resonated on more than a singular level. In the article, the author describes how she avoided photos like the plague, stating she felt she looked “disgusting, horrible and bloated,” believing as though she didn’t deserve to be seen in a photo, feeling guilt and shame surrounding her appearance. She also stated the amount of sadness and regret she feels when looking back on parts of her life, because the photos of these times are absent. Perhaps the most poignant section of this story, in relation to myself is this:

“What I’d say is that perfect is impossible. When the camera comes out, don’t hide. Tell yourself that every time a real, imperfect woman shows up in a photograph, an angel gets its wings … and a girl who sees it might believe that her looks are OK.

Be brave. Smile and say, “Here I am.”

It’s hard for me to explain how much the author’s words truly mean to me and resonate. I can’t even begin to recall all the times I’ve hidden and shied away from the camera, of how many moments I’ve missed out or how many moments I wish I could visually recall and can’t because I hid from the camera. In August 2014, I became an aunt to my beautiful, intelligent and inspiring niece, who I love with every ounce of myself, and the only photo I have of she, my sister and I, is one from when my dog, Oliver was having surgery and we were waiting for him in the waiting room. It hurts to know this and it isn’t because of any other reason than me, avoiding the camera. So maybe today, I’ll take a photo, a photo that should have been taken whenever I felt so inclined, and be proud to be here, be proud I have the ability to take a photo, and the courage to look at it, be okay with the image looking at back at me, and bravely say, as the article states, “Here I am.”

Smile for the Camera: A “Camera Shy” Phenomenon

Good Monday Morning, to you! I’m back after several days away from the blog world. For a while, I contemplated the direction I was going with this blog. It’s hard to not feel discouraged, or as though I am writing without having anyone listen, but then I realized, the most important thing about having a blog of this kind, is to have fun with it and not place too much pressure on myself, as I so often do in many other respects. Anyway, I wanted to advise those of you who might be reading, to stay tuned this week, because I have a *VERY EXCITING* giveaway on-deck for mid-week! Here’s a hint to pique your interest: what I will be giving away is sure to keep you hydrated! Anyhow, now that I’ve finally announced my very FIRST giveaway, let’s get to today’s musing, or at least, allow me to introduce it. Over the weekend, while mindlessly perusing Facebook, I stumbled across an ad sponsored by one of my favorite companies, not only for their high-quality, trustworthy products, but also for the initiatives they support and produce: Dove. Perhaps you’ve noticed it as well – it is a Dove advertisement with a woman shielding her face and on her face covering is the curious statement: 77% of women are camera shy. This may be shocking to some, but to others, they may see it as a definite truth. I was a little bit of both, but more on that in a minute. Allow me to brief you on my morning eats:

Breakfast (Monday, July 29, 2013):

1 container Yoplait 100 Vanilla Greek Yogurt: (As I believe I’ve noted before, this particular flavor of vanilla Greek yogurt is potentially one of my favorites. The vanilla flavor is strong, not muted and fresh. Plus, it mixes very well with cereal. I must note, yesterday I had another brand of Honey Vanilla Bean Greek Yogurt – Voskos, and loved the flavor, plus I could see actual vanilla BEAN in the yogurt! Vanilla bean = high quality alert, for sure!)

1 cup ShopRite store-brand Crispix: (This cereal is a new purchase, since I’ve been wanting Crispix for awhile. The Kellogg’s name brand version of Crispix, however, was much too expensive for my wallet, so I settled for the ShopRite version, which in my opinion, is just as good and fits the bill. It brought a wave of nostalgia over me, as I recall being 8-years-old, piling my morning cereal bowl high with a mixture of Crispix and Life Cereal, some of it spilling out, as I heartily dug into my large pile.)

1 cup Special K Multigrain Flakes (Such a good cereal, although I must admit, having it day after day is quickly causing it to become redundant. I think it’s time for me to add a new cereal to my daily repertoire!)

1 Banana (I’m proud to report, I am still doing well with the bananas. No problems here, which is a welcome change!)

ImageImageImageImage

Back to today’s musing: Women and the “Camera Shy phenomenon, as stated by Dove. As I previously mentioned, a part of me is not at all surprised or shocked to have the read the statement: “77% of women are camera shy.” The other part of me thought to myself, “Gee, I see so many pictures women take each day of themselves, posting it on their blogs, their instagram accounts, Twitter, Facebook and the like. However, I came to realize, I am truly only viewing a very, very small sampling, in that there are millions of women scattered throughout the world. Some of these women may post photos of themselves, but feel considerably uncomfortable and uneasy doing so. They may even do it, because it is part of their job responsibilities or do it because they are trying to maintain a certain image or conception of themselves.

However, I will be first to admit, I fall in the 77% of women who are camera shy. More often than I can count, I’ve shied away from the camera, fearful of how the camera may actually portray me, or how I’ll end up seeing myself. While my self-perception may be distorted or not, having my picture taken often leaves me feeling vulnerable. When my picture is taken, I surrender any control of how I look to the camera, or at least, it often feels that way. When I was a child, I loved having my photo taken, or recording home videos with my sister, Hope. It didn’t matter to me if my hair was matted or frizzy, or if I had chocolate smeared on my face. All that mattered was capturing that happy, carefree moment I was having. 

A large part of me still wishes I was that way, comfortable and at ease when having my photo taken. There have been so many occasions where I shunned having my photo taken, only to regret later, realizing they are memories I could look back on and see the happiness in the photo. Sure, I can still experience those memories within my mind and heart, but being able to see a photo can often capture a different angle or sense of it. So often, I’ve wanted to take a simple, innocent photo with my mom, sister, a friend, or Oliver, my dog, and I’ve declined. Or I’ve had a photo taken and begged whoever had taken it to either delete it or never show anyone.

Image

How sad I am to read that statement about 77% of women being camera shy. How I wish I could encourage fellow women, myself included, to own the camera! Or to smile as brightly and as big as we can, no matter if our hair is frizzy, or if our cheeks are sunburned, or if our shirts are wrinkled. Let us focus on the happiness of the moment, of relishing in the time we are spending with others, and the smiles on our faces and in our eyes; let these be what the camera captures and the other “imperfections,” fade quickly into the background, nearly disappearing entirely.

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I’ve mentioned Dove is a company I fully support, not only for their products, but for what they encourage, support and advocate for. If you’re unfamiliar, several years prior, Dove instituted, “The Self-Esteem Fund,” and the “Campaign for Real Beauty.” Many of you have probably seen some of the videos and commercials Dove has produced (i.e. the model who starts off bare-faced and in the end, becomes photoshopped and completely made-over; or the public service announcement stating statistics regarding the heartbreaking way many girls/women view their bodies and overall selves). When I think of Dove and their campaigns and initiatives, it’s hard not to smile and at the same time, feel sad. My smiles are from the comfort in knowing a company as large as Dove finally notices and recognizes what females as a whole routinely feel and encounter, and my tears are from learning of these truths, confirming much of the way, I, myself often feel. They are making attempts to change these truths, or at least, confront them and allow girls/women to realize they are truly not alone in their sentiments.

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Seeing this statement regarding the significant percentage of women who are camera shy, I encourage my fellow girls/women and also, the guys out there, because I believe many boys/men are also similarly camera shy, to own the camera. Smile your beautiful and/or handsome smile, never hide your flaws or imperfections, because they make you, you and remember, the camera and eye catches a genuine smile and happiness better than a flaw. When one is wearing a smile and enjoying themselves, it’s often difficult to look at much else, therefore, perceived flaws and imperfections fade into the background, as simply a minor detail in an otherwise beautiful photo and moment captured in time.

In the words of one of my favorite childhood authors, Dr. Seuss:

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QUESTION: Do you enjoy having your photo taken? If not, why?