This might be the hardest lesson I have ever had to learn.
Like most of us, I don’t believe I am beautiful. I was born into a world where beauty is only skin deep, and everyone is compared to everyone else, in hopes of finding it.
I read magazines with stunning models and watch TV shows with the most beautiful people I have ever seen. Both men and women. As a result, I always feel like I should be a little skinnier, or smidge more pretty.
No matter how hard I try, some days it is utterly impossible to believe I am in fact beautiful.
But I am. Even in my darkest and dirtiest moments. Crying or laughing, smiling or frowning. There is beauty in it all.
For many years, I hid from the camera. I didn’t want to be the subject of any pictures. I preferred to be the photographer. It was much safer behind the camera where there was no way I could end up in a picture.
If by some chance I did, it gave me an opportunity to beat myself up. To be critical of what I saw. I was never ever happy with how I looked.
Most of the time, I felt as though I was too fat – even when I was the skinniest I’ve ever been. I judged my face. I have one eye that always looks smaller than the other because it doesn’t open as wide. Sometimes when I was much younger, it was the acne. It was never awful, but I always felt as though it was. It seemed my perception was always distorted.
It wasn’t until I got my first DSLR, a Canon Rebel XSi, that I started to see myself differently. Through Flickr, I learned about the art of self portraits, and of Vivienne McMaster. I took a couple of her online courses, and truly learned to see myself differently. Less harshly, and with more kindness and more self love.
I learned that with the camera, I could control the way others see me. If I wanted to be beautiful I could be beautiful. If I wanted to be innocent, I could be innocent. If I wanted to be angry, I could be angry. It all depended on how I wanted to be seen.
Over the years, I have taken lots of self portraits and selfies. I have even been accused of being vain and taking pictures of myself to get attention. Honestly, it couldn’t be any further from the truth.
Whether it is a self portrait that is planned out and posed, or a quick snap with the iPhone to capture a moment, I take these pictures for a reason. To remind myself, that I too am beautiful and don’t need to hide behind a camera.