It’s been said many times that we are each our own worst critic. These words are very true and very unfortunate. Self-love and acceptance is truly one of the most important things to strive for in life. Obviously, this topic is much broader than just the way we look, way too much to cover in a single blog post. So, for now, a brief discussion about a part of human psychology that I find particularly interesting and that I encounter constantly in my chosen profession.
Indeed, we are each our own worst critic. I see it all the time with my portrait clients. “Oh gosh, I am so nervous!”…..”Please don’t show my flappy arms”…..”Does my hair look stupid?”….”I hate my nose”….”Can you make me look skinny?”…..These few examples hardly scratch the surface of the comments I hear during the first few moments of a portrait shoot with a new client. That’s when I go to work trying to stop you from beating yourself up, helping you relax and escape that inner voice that’s telling you that you are not good enough, and showing you the beauty I see in you…..yes, YOU.
Now, is this some marketing strategy in which I try to impress you by making you believe I am some kind of corny, uber-compassionate saint that thinks everyone is beautiful? No (unless it’s working!…..Just kidding!) I am not here to deliver lines like “True beauty comes from the inside” to induce warm fuzzy feelings in you, (although it’s true).I am talking about looks. I am simply saying that even you, with THAT nose can look really good if you will just stop the beating. There is a bigger gap between self-confidence and conceit than you allow yourself to believe. So many of us have somehow been programmed to believe that if we really like the way we look, we are conceited and narcissistic. So, to avoid having (or appearing to have) these negative character traits, we suppress true acceptance of ourselves. Others among us are self-critical because they do not look like some supermodel or celebrity; you know, those people that we praise and elevate, so that we can then tear them down? Or, if we don’t tear them down, we convince them that they are perfect, until, in some cases, they destroy their self, in part because they feel they can’t live up to the image imposed on them.(Don’t get me started). We tell each other to just “be yourself” and promote individuality, then treat ourselves badly with negative self-talk when we don’t look like everyone else. Crazy, huh?
Am I claiming to be an expert on this? YES, and so are YOU. You know what I am talking about as much as I do. I am an expert because I am also very self-critical. I am fighting back, but it is an on-going battle. I can tell you this: we are not alone. As a portrait photographer, I witness those inner battles going on behind the eyes of nearly all of my subjects. Being familiar with the struggle, I sympathize and do my best to help you win. One of the most fulfilling experiences for me during a session is when my subject and I become a team and we overcome, even for just a few moments, those negative forces and capture the light and beauty that exists in all of us.
Ok….that was pretty deep, I know. Let me wrap this up for now with this; the struggle is real. I get it and I go through it myself. But, know this: I have worked with “everyday people” and I have worked with successful models. ALL of us fight the battle. ALL of us deserve a break. Stop beating yourself up! The time to let yourself be you is now. Beauty DOES come from the inside. Beauty comes from love….a love of yourself, life and others.