This year I am snapping a picture of myself before, during or after each run, usually with my iPhone. I’m calling this my Self-Portrait Project and I briefly mentioned that I would be doing this in my Happy New Year! post. But I thought I would take a moment to further explain the reasoning behind this.
I am a firm believer that the fact that people are all different is what truly makes us beautiful. Uniqueness is what makes people interesting. But for some reason, that kindness never extends to myself. Somehow I fail to see any of the beauty that I see in others in me. Looking at myself in a photograph, I’m very quick to belittle and rip my appearance to shreds. Race/running photos are particularly bad… a moment when I’m doing something I enjoy and am keeping my body physically active and fit, those are the times when I am the most self-critical.
And I’m not alone in this…
The sad truth is that the world has evolved to a point where it is socially acceptable and commonplace to make mean statements about yourself. People on other blogs do it, people on Facebook do it, people on Twitter do it, and people in real life do it… self-deprecating remarks are abundant.
There is also an epidemic of “Thanksbuts” in every day life. This is my own term for the practice of trying to minimize a compliment with some addendum…
“Your hair looks great!”
“Thanks, but I just got it styled so it will never look this good again.”
“That’s a great outfit!”
“Oh… but it’s just something I scrounged from the back of my closet. It’s old and I should really replace it.”
All around I see the negative language, the “fat talk“, the mean comments. Bubble butt, thunder thighs, muffin top, flabby abs, bat wings… the list is long.
I’m fortunate that I have a group of women that I meet with every single week on Monday evenings… we’ve all been through treatment for eating disorders and we remind each other that this really isn’t the right way to behave. Usually when the urge to beat yourself up is the strongest, that’s the time when you are under stress or duress and need to take care of yourself the most.
ALL women, everyday and everywhere, need to be kinder to themselves.
So I’m taking pictures of myself to start being more comfortable with who Jill is… and to stop berating myself. Yes, there may be moments when the pictures are less-flattering than other days. But I’m learning to be more accepting of myself. (I’m also learning that I need more variety in my running wardrobe… many shirts are pretty much the same color!)
Already I’ve started to feel better about my appearance. I am pretty self-conscious about my teeth, knowing that they’ve moved because I never wore my retainer after getting braces off… yet I had a wonderful comment from a friend and she told me that my smile looked so much more natural in the pictures where I actually show my teeth. And I’ve started to realize that is true!
Even if you don’t take pictures of yourself, please stop and think before you say disparaging things about yourself. If you wouldn’t be so rude as to say that to someone else, then treat yourself with that same respect. 🙂
*I mention women specifically in this post, since they seem to fall victim to this practice more than men.