I came across a filter on my phone not too long ago while playing with the picture settings. It displayed a little magic wand which, when clicked, magically erases any imperfections in said picture. Now for many this may be a welcomed filter to eliminate flaws one might find annoying. For me this was just something else telling kids and young adults that to become picture perfect you can’t have these flaws.
I remember growing up being overweight with a skin problem all too vividly. Nothing would stop the ridicule no matter how much makeup I would use to cover it. But why did I need to cover it up in the first place? For years, we have been fed pictures of perfection in magazines, watched film stars stroll the red carpet in couture gowns, played with dolls with porcelain skin and tiny waists, watched as princesses were shut away because of their beauty by ‘ugly’ queens or whoever. All these build on the façade, making us believe that to get our happy endings and success we need to be beautiful, and that what beautiful is isn’t ordinary.
It’s frustrating how in our story books the beautiful princess was kept captive, hidden away from people, then revealed in the end with everyone in awe of her. I think this is where the desire to be perfect began for a lot of us girls. No one wanted to be the ugly one because they were mean, we all wanted to be the princess. Loved, wanted, desired or was it to be envied?
I promise I’m not a bitter old woman who lost faith in the world! I do love a princess story! What I don’t like is how our kids today are still being bullied for not being the princess!
In a world full of airbrushing and magic filter apps, kids today are wrapped up in the wrong side of beauty. They are missing the metaphor of kindness is beauty and callousness is ugly. I look through social media and of course I can see where the trend continues.
Ok, so I’m not going to lie, the airbrushed picture takes 10 years off my face. It has removed the blotches and sun spots and softened wrinkles. My no makeup selfie has become a natural made up look. I can see the appeal. My former self would have been all over this!
These days I see make up less of a cover up and more an art medium. My face is fine as it is, I take better care of myself in general now because it makes me feel good. I don’t see it as chore anymore. Because make up is my medium I use it when I’m inspired. If I put on a colourful dress and some great shoes I’ll put some makeup on because I fancy it, not because I have too. Stepping out of the house doesn’t merit a full face for me either. I spent many years hiding away behind a mask so now I’m free, I feel I no longer need too.
I can see now that when I put full make up on in the morning, during high school and during the ‘dark years’, it was a way of hiding from everything. The bullying, the acne that caused the bullying, not fitting into mainstream media’s ‘beautiful’. Spending those years fearing further hurtful comments about things I couldn’t control. I was comforted with a full mask of makeup. Without it I was bare, raw and exposed. It was my comfort blanket until I found my inner strength and emerged from the proverbial darkness.
It’s not easy to find your confidence. I believe a lot stems from channeling my fear into being strong for my children. There is no longer a need to hide anything anymore, we were out in the open and hiding away wasn’t going to get us anywhere. I found the love I was always searching for in my children. Their acceptance of me, warts and all, removed the façade so I no longer needed to hide away.
Your confidence is there, ready to take on the world with you, let it shine through!
DeAnna’s (Blue Chameleon blog series) Focuses on rebuilding self-confidence after suffering through difficult times. DeAnna lives in Cambridge, England with her family, cats and dog. She credits a portion of happiness to her partner, Pete, punctuation manager, picture taker.