This is a confession.
A confession to the people following me to see the same content as I have talked about for nearly a year now: imperfection. Whether it be an imperfection in marriage, motherhood, friendships, health, or faith.
A week or two ago, I asked my husband to take some pictures for me to use for the blog and social media channels. My old photo that I used for a profile picture was one that I’d taken off of my webcam with my son. My hair wasn’t brushed, I was still newly postpartum and just took it to have a picture to use. I figured it was time for more of a professional looking photo.
We took a decent amount of shots, in various different poses and places. I had my husband choose the top three best ones and went from there. This is the one that ended up being used:
I changed my personal profile picture to this one and it got the most likes and comments out of any other profile picture I’ve ever had. More than my engagement photo, wedding photo and photo of me with my son.
People liked, loved, commented and even sent me a few private messages saying what a great picture it was. They said that it was “Lovely”, “Beautiful” and “Pretty”. I took the comments while biting my tongue because this picture isn’t the one my husband took. Yes, it is based on the same file, but the picture he took is this one:
Call it a guilty conscience, but every time someone said something to me about it I wanted to scream. I wanted to say, “This is photoshopped, you know?” I’ve had years of practice with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, I know how to manipulate an image. I mentioned that the photo had been edited to a few friends, who all told me that it was okay, they didn’t believe I edited it that much. Some didn’t even realize that it was edited at all! There was only one friend who mentioned that they knew what edits I did based off of other pictures of me.
When my husband came home, I asked him what he thought of the edits.
“You didn’t have to do that much honey, you looked perfect beforehand.” He told me. He voiced his concern that he thought it was, in fact, over-edited.
I asked him if he wanted to see the side by side comparison and he agreed to it. He hadn’t seen the before photo at all, except when he shot it initially. If nothing else, I told him it was a chance to practice my photo editing skills. I went over every change I made with him. From little things, like blurring the background and changing the lighting, to bigger changes like altering my eyes, teeth, and skin.
It didn’t take me long to edit because I’ve had a lot of practice. I was able to make my teeth whiter, lipstick brighter, eyes clearer and skin smooth in less than 15 minutes. I took every inch of skin I was unhappy with and removed it. Freckles, scars, acne: all of it. Basically grafted what little clear skin I had from portions of my face and shoulders and blended it over every blemish, one at a time.
Some women are good at makeup, but I’m not. If you saw me in person, you’d meet someone with nothing but a little lipstick on and dozens upon dozens of sores and spots of acne on my face. They’d probably be open sores too, because I compulsively pick at any portion of my skin that isn’t smooth when I am anxious (more often that I’d like to admit). It’s a nervous tick, and not something I could ever cover up with makeup. At twenty years old, I was hoping to be done with having blemishes on my face by now, but the ones I do have would be much less if I did not have the compulsion to make my skin smooth by picking at acne when I’m nervous.
Many people know that I suffer from anorexia nervosa, but my weight really hasn’t fluctuated in quite a while. I thought it was over, but that’s the thing about letting down your guard with a mind that is intent on making you hate yourself; it’ll take advantage of any opportunity it gets. While I might not deal with an “eating disorder” right now (unless you count the occasional ice cream binge), I do have significant self-consciousness about my body right now. I still have unhealthy tendencies towards my body when stress takes over. It has merely morphed, shifted into an unrecognized form, until now.
This photo doesn’t show imperfection, at least, not the ones I didn’t want you to see. I have women (and a few men) of all ages following me for what I’ve said about anorexia, depression, and anxiety, both on my blogs and on others.
I’m sorry, I feel like I’ve let you all down. While I want to keep the photo because I’m still very self-conscious and I did actually have a lot of fun editing, I don’t want you to think that it is real.
I’m sorry, but my profile picture is a lie. I don’t have glowing smooth skin, rosy cheeks or bright eyes. I have lots of acne, scars and self-esteem issues. I wish I could give myself the confidence and pep talks that I give my friends, but it is all still a struggle for me.
For those of you like me, I want to leave you with a video my husband sent me when we started dating. Hopefully it helps you like it does me, even on the bad days.