It turns out one of the hardest parts of this year of no fear is actually making time to sit down and write! I think I start most of my posts like this now, but it’s so true! Halfway into the year and I’ve disappeared down a rabbit hole of ‘sub-challenges’ I’ve taken on in addition to the existing monthly ones! The latest of which was qualifying as a Burlesque fitness instructor at the weekend! Already got my first venues and classes ready to get up and running once I’ve finished my stint performing in the Fringe (which has in itself evolved from ‘an’ appearance to now doing several dates across the run of our show Absolute Burlesque)
I thought I’d better check-in and let everyone know I did complete my June ‘picture perfect’ challenge. The aim was to highlight how easy it is to use social media as a mask, a place to hide behind heavily edited, selectively curated content. There’s still a degree of expectation our social profiles should present our ‘best selves’. My initial thought was that I would post some candid, unfiltered shots taken by a professional photographer, however on further exploration, I found such a shocking amount of D.I.Y photo editing apps, I decided to edit my own to show just how quick and simple it could be to make changes to your images.
Now before any of my beautiful, professional photographer friends get outraged, I’m not suggesting it’s quick and easy to produce professional-quality images by any means. Professional photographers take years to perfect their craft and require patience, creativity and natural talent which you can’t get simply by downloading a free app. What you can do with an app though, as I discovered, is slim your face down, change the colour of your eyes, elongate your body so you look taller and thinner…the list goes on.
I wonder how much time and energy people are putting into doing this to their content before they post?? Add that time and effort to the already ridiculous amount spent trying to conform to unrealistic beauty ideals-especially true for young women- then it’s insane to think what we could achieve if we redirected it to more meaningful and productive endeavors! I for one am sad for the younger version of myself when I think back to all I missed out on because I was living a life focused around dieting, preening attempting to create a smaller, more ‘beautiful’ body and how I held off from doing so many things until I felt that I had fulfilled that objective-which was obviously going to be never, as the goalposts constantly changed!
As I look back over the last year at what I’ve managed to achieve, simply from shifting my thoughts, time and energy away from how I look to how I feel, why and what I want to achieve I don’t even really know what to make of it. Above anything else it has proved to me that throwing away my scales, ditching diet culture and questioning my beliefs around, body, health and happiness was absolutely the right thing to do for me. Proof positive that my ability to do the things I love/want to achieve has never once been restricted by my body shape or size-purely my mentality.
The culture of best selfie forward feeds into a society already full of influences which sell us the idea that the very best thing we can do is be the smallest, most preened and perfected version of a human! That’s the goal, and all else falls into line when we achieve it. New ways to be perfect and beautiful are always presenting themselves though, remember, so we are constantly stuck in this never-ending loop unless we see it for what it is and step outside. Doing so will always leave us open to backlash from those who still buy into the ideals, so it can be a daunting and dangerous thing to do. Stepping outside the ‘norm’ in any sense of the word can feel terrifying, but also be extremely liberating. It is not always practicable or possible sadly, but as I am lucky enough to be in a time and situation where I can actively choose to reject these ideas, I am always going to use that privilege to encourage others in my position to do the same- as the more people that openly reject these ideas, the less wide an impact they start to have. We can break them down one myth at a time!
You can check out my Instagram feed for the images from the challenge, and other more regular short updates too.