I’d like to say my makeup-free selfie “aha moment” magically hit me one morning. This, however, is not at all how it happened. In reality, it was a slow percolation, a timid bubble of self-love, ignited by the amazing people around me.
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It all started early one Saturday morning. My dear friend Jaz made her way over to the West Side to work on our latest writing project, but first, we had to brunch (duh).
Makeup-free and in yoga pants (okay, maybe they were sweatpants, you caught me), we got our regular table by the window at our favorite cafe.
What was supposed to be fuel for a long day of writing turned into one of those brunches. It was basically a Ted Talk with bagels and bacon. We talked about love and life and the messy parts of ourselves that we’re teaching each other to love.
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“I need to document this moment,” Jaz said as we were wrapping up. I thought she meant the food, so I leaned out of the way, but she laughed.
“No! You! I’m taking a picture of you.” BUT I DON’T HAVE MAKEUP ON AND LOOK LIKE A KRAKEN FROM THE SEA, MOST LIKELY WITH POPPY SEEDS IN MY TEETH my mind screamed at me.
“I’m really trying to get comfortable with taking photos of myself without makeup,” she added. “I mean, it’s truly who we are, so we should probably like it.” She made a good point.
“Okay,” I said. And she snapped the photo.
Would I use this photo as my Tinder profile pic? Probably not. When I saw the pic in my feed was my mind racing with, OMG, so-and-so will see that, and it’s not very flattering, blah blah blah. But the emotion that truly stuck to my ribs was the overwhelming happiness produced by my ever-evolving friendship with Jaz.
The caption she posted reminded me of how far my friendship with my best friend had come in only one year. And that smiling girl? She’s effortlessly grinning because some hard sh*t was thrown at her in 2016, but she stepped up and faced it, and came out the other side happier and stronger.
I’m glad that girl and that moment were documented. And I’m grateful I didn’t miss that moment because I was worried someone would think I was unattractive.
I’ve taken this little brunch life lesson with me the past few months and, I have to say, it’s totally made my life better. Here’s how:
1. I’m able to live in the moment.
The days of avoiding taking photos because I don’t look perfect are long gone. And guess what? It totally makes me live in the moment.
Just a few weekends ago, my boyfriend’s football team was playing my team. “I wanna take a household divided picture of us in our jerseys,” he said.
It was a lazy Sunday morning so I sure as hell didn’t have makeup on. I thought about running to put some powder on but quickly abolished the thought. “Let’s do it!” I said.
2. I feel way more authentic.
I’ve always had a complicated relationship with social media. I’ve found myself getting the her-life-looks-way-better-than-mine blues more often than I’d like to admit. But once I started presenting the unfiltered version of myself on social, the comparison stuff truly started to fade away.
I felt better not faking my life, waiting for the perfect Instagrammable moment. And when you feel good about yourself, you somehow can’t be bothered with comparing your life to someone else’s.
3. I’m learning to accept how I truly look.
I’m not 100 percent there yet. I still have a little PTSD from my ballet days of being told my face is too fat. But posting makeup-free selfies has truly put my self-love ship on course. Little by little, photo by photo, I’m accepting this little ol’ face of mine. And it’s kind of adorable, however imperfect it may be.
4. It’s freed me from the pressures of looking “perfect” on social media.
Guys, I totally fell into the “picture-perfect Instagram model” trap. Girls would look perfect when posting photos of themselves. The vibe of the room would be perfect, the lighting would be perfect, the filter would be perfect, the outfit would be perfect. It was so overwhelming to me, I just wouldn’t post.
But then, starting with that first breakfast photo, I gave myself permission to let go of the arbitrary social media expectations we’ve all created for ourselves. I’m a sweatpants, cats, and photos of my dying succulent kind of girl. And that’s okay. And maybe someone else is a fashion blogger, makeup-lover kinda girl. And that’s okay too.