Real. What does it mean to be real?
In the last few days I’ve been seriously triggered by some comments I’ve heard and some observations I’ve made. So I slowed down to dig in to what exactly was feeling so icky to me.
I watched an amusing video the other day about men being photoshopped like women. I watched it twice actually, the second time with my kids. Aside from the obvious reason to be pissed off about the premise behind the video, I was especially triggered by the following statement, “We all want to look like the best version of ourselves.” I paused.
We all want to look like the best version of ourselves.
I mean, seriously, who can disagree with this? I can’t. I love when I see a photo of myself that somehow doesn’t show my eye bags too much.
But… why is our “best” version not our real one?
What are we actually saying to ourselves when we say, “Oh, I prefer the shinier, prettier, sparklier, tightened up and tucked in, unblemished version?”
What the actual Fu*k?
No wonder so many of us feels less than and not good enough!
How did we get to this point that being our best selves somehow means something other than being our real selves?
Seriously. PLEASE take a moment to think about this. Since when is being real, as in 100% really YOU, not good enough? And who decides this anyway!?
As a mother, and I am sure you’ll all agree, I am sickened that my girls are growing up in a culture that promotes and encourages this distorted way of thinking about what it means to be our best selves.
Watching the Emmys the other night (to cheer on Montréal’s own Jean-Marc Vallée and Big Little Lies), I was at first saddened by the faces of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. They are almost 80 years old and look “amazing”. And all I could find online about their plastic faces (as I searched for something to share with you all) was praise for how “amazing” they look for their age.
Yup, they do look a lot younger than most 80 years olds I know. Is that what it means to look “amazing” at 80; that you look younger than you are?
And in full transparency, I am not immune to this myself. I posted a pic of myself on FB last week and a friend (she’s probably reading this right now!), commented that I looked like I was in my 20s. And I immediately very happy! Yay for me, the 43 year old who looks 20 in that pic! Trust me, I am just as caught up in the “looking younger” as everyone else.
So back to my original question, what is real? My thoughts:
Real is messy and painful and glorious and triumphant. Real is mistakes made, judgments passed and apologies accepted. Real is struggling with your age, weight, height, face and doing something about it. Real is acceptance of what you cannot change. Real is passion, confusion and struggling to make ends meet. Real is children playing in the school yard, while parents check their Instagram. Real is hurricanes, earthquakes and the destruction they leave in their wake. Real is the red lipstick I wear for a pop of color on my face. Real is at once the truth we speak, and the lies we tell.
The human experience is real. Including plastic faces, filtered photos and all the other “fake” images and news that comes our way. The human experience is BIG enough to contain it all. And I accept that now.
Being real, as in unmasked and uncovered and raw, takes fucking courage! Being real means loving yourself…really and truly loving yourself, including your own freaked out mind, your insecurities and the darker shadows of your soul.
Being real means not needing the approval of others because you already deeply approve of yourself, the unfiltered, messy, imperfectly perfect you. Being real is compassion for self.
So in summary, if your real self is all of these things and you also happen to love plastic surgery…well, ok then. You’re doing it for YOU, not because you feel like you have to because your real version isn’t good enough.
Here’s what I know for sure: our REAL selves deserve to be cared for, tended to, and loved. Our real selves are more than good enough. Our blemished and bumpy faces, bodies and lives ARE the best we have because they are ours to hold dear and cherish! There is so much pressure for our real selves to stay hidden and neatly tucked away. So we have to be fierce about keepin’ it real. We have to be brave and bold and honest and vulnerable. On our own. With our children. With each other. Every single day.
I’ve got your back. We’re in this together. Will you join me?