“You have such crooked teeth! You really should get braces.”
“Why do you make such weird faces in your pictures? It’s annoying!”
“You have such an ugly ‘smile’! I can’t believe you post selfies here. You should be embarrassed.”
All of those remarks — and more! — have been left in comments here and on Facebook in the last few weeks. Most of them were from the same two people who apparently are on a mission to get me to stop posting selfies.
I’ve just been deleting the comments as they come in and didn’t plan to mention them in a post because I don’t like to give trolls or rude commentors a platform here. My policy has always been that if your comment is shaming, harsh, or sharply critical, I promptly remove it as I want to keep this place upbeat and encouraging.
However, when I deleted yet another comment this morning about my “dumb selfie faces”, I could keep silent no longer and this post just bubbled forth.
You see, posting a selfie might seem very inconsequential to some of you. For me, being brave enough to take and then share selfies this past year has been monumental.
Why? Because it’s something that I ran kicking and screaming from for years.
I was embarrassed of my sometimes dorky faces, of my jaw, of my crooked teeth, of my overbite, of my skin that was prone to breakouts, of the fact that I probably don’t know how to do makeup, and of the fact that I probably don’t shape my eyebrows correctly.
For years, I hated the fact that I wasn’t photogenic. I was so self-conscious and insecure, that whenever a camera came out, I’d be so nervous, I wouldn’t be able to smile. My mouth would quiver. My hands would shake. I’d break out in sweat. And I just plain couldn’t smile sincerely.
I remember the night I was supposed to get my senior pictures taken. There were a group of us getting individual pictures done and when my turn came, I froze and couldn’t smile. The photographer tried over and over again to no avail.
I was so embarrassed and frustrated with myself. And ever since then, I shied away from cameras because I didn’t want to suffer that same humiliation again.
When I started blogging 10 years ago, I found that it was such a safe outlet for an introverted, insecure, and un-photogenic girl like me. It allowed me to mostly hide behind my computer screen. To carefully pick and choose any pictures I showed to the public. To take 46 different pictures in hopes of getting a decent shot.
The more I hid behind my computer screen, though, the less authentic I felt. I didn’t want to photoshop my life. I didn’t want to live life behind a smokescreen.
I wanted to be real… even though I know that it would mean sharing the good and the not-so-good. Even though I knew it would be opening up myself for criticism. Even though I knew not everyone would like the real, sometimes dorky, sometimes un-photogenic, me.
As I’ve stopped believing lies about myself and starting living under the truth, it’s given me more and more confidence to just be me. To stop worrying about what people would think. To stop caring whether I was going to be criticized. To stop stressing over whether I was going to disappoint someone.
And little bit by little bit, I’ve been brave enough to step out from behind the safety of the computer screen and be authentically me.
That’s meant accepting speaking engagements. Blogging about my struggles with shame and insecurity. Instagramming real-life stuff. Filming videos. And yes, getting brave enough to start showing my face in many more pictures.
Posting a selfie publicly represents something much deeper than the picture itself. It’s a testament to the work that’s happened in my heart, to the confidence that has grown in my soul, to the acceptance I have for exactly who God has made me to be — imperfections and all.
So when those recent comments have come over and over again, attacking me for how I look and how I smile, it really and truly hasn’t phased me. Instead, it’s encouraged me to realize how much I’ve grown in confidence and it’s also motivated me to keep posting the real-life, imperfect stuff.
The world needs to see that just because I happen to have a large number of people reading what I write online doesn’t mean that I am all perfect and polished and put-together. The truth is: nobody has it all together and nobody just floats effortlessly through life with flawless skin, perfect smiles, and zero struggles.
Now, let me be clear: I don’t share this post with you because I want you to criticize the few people who are on a “Stop the Selfie Crusade”. Honestly, I pray for them and hurt for them because I have a feeling that their unkind comments are probably coming from their own place of hurt and insecurity.
I also don’t share this because I need your affirmation. Truthfully, I don’t. I know who I am in Christ. I know the truth that I am enough. And I really can stand confidently in that.
I am writing this post tonight, because I have a feeling that some of you out there can relate to my struggles. Maybe you have no problem at all when it comes to smiling or showing your face in pictures, but perhaps you struggle with feeling like you don’t measure up somehow.
Maybe you had a really humiliating situation that forever cemented in your head that you weren’t good enough at X.
Maybe you’ve been shamed by someone close to you regarding your weight or your appearance or your skills or your mothering or your “inabilities”.
And it’s cut you deeply. So deep, in fact, that ever since then, you’ve avoided that thing at all costs.
Can I encourage you to stop believing the lies & start camping on the truth? Can I gently admonish you not to let shaming words from others dictate how you live and hold you back?
Be brave. Be YOU. The world needs your gifts, your story, and your unique perspective.
And every time you see me post a selfie, can it be a reminder to you to keep putting yourself out there, keeping stepping outside your comfort zone, keep pushing forward little bit by little bit?
Let’s be a community of people who don’t let shaming words get the best of us. Let’s camp on the truth, walk in confidence knowing that we are enough as we are, and then let’s bravely face our fear gremlins head on — imperfect selfies and all.