I had an experience last week that drove home a point that I have spent a lot of time thinking about in the last few months.
I needed some nice shots for this website. So I went out to the park and had a little photo shoot with myself. I posted one of these pictures on my Facebook profile. My friends all loved my picture, and I was flattered to receive several compliments. But even after seeing my friends’ responses, I looked at the photo and realized that I still see only my flaws. I see that I took over 250 pictures that day and deleted over half of them immediately. I photoshopped the three or four that I felt were passable. I also see that I walked into the bathroom the next morning to see that I had a big pimple on my chin and a sheet mark on my face.
I am telling this story, not to fish for compliments or to complain about what I perceive as my flaws. I am telling this story because I know I am not the only woman who does this. I notice this all the time in my treatment room. Women come in and immediately start listing all the bad things they see on their skin. And maybe their list is longer because I start off by asking what their concerns are. It’s an invitation to mention every flaw you see when you look in the mirror. But often, I don’t see the flaws they mention- the huge pores or the wrinkles. And I never really know how to respond. I don’t want to belittle my client’s feelings, but I also don’t want to give her more reasons not to see how beautiful she already is. Ultimately, I want to help her feel good about her appearance, and through that, to feel better in general.
Years ago, I read an interview with Uma Thurman in People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People issue. I think they had asked her something inane, like “What’s it like to be so beautiful?” She stated that when she gets up in the morning, all she sees is her face. Partly I find that humble response refreshing. Someone as beautiful as Uma Thurman would be insufferable if she was always aware of her appearance. But partly, I found it sad. Does she think she’s beautiful at all? Does she look in the mirror and only see the lines around her eyes, or the pimple on her chin?
As someone who works in the beauty industry, I struggle with my role. I got into this business because I loved the transformative power of makeup. I loved it when someone walked a little taller when they felt better about how they looked. But I hate that I also play into a business that can women feel worse about themselves. I want people to believe in themselves, and sometimes I’m afraid I just validate their feelings that they aren’t as beautiful as they want to be.
Join me on my soapbox. What do you think? Are you seeing flaws in the mirror that aren’t noticeable to the rest of the world? Do you see your own beauty, or do you always compare it to someone else’s? Are you your own worst critic?
All photography in this post is mine. All rights reserved.