It’s no secret that I have amazing parents. Maybe I’m not supposed to say that about my own parents. But it’s true. Like I always tell my mom, the older I get, the smarter she gets. In fact, I constantly tell my parents they should write a parenting book. For example, one of the biggest things they taught me was to not compare myself to others. To be sure, that’s a hard thing to teach a kid. However, it’s a lesson that has always stuck with me.
I’ve auditioned for a lot of things in my life. Whether it was a play, a cheer squad, a dance team, etc, the process is mostly the same. In fact, the process still applies as an adult – job applications, promotions, dating… But whatever you’re auditioning/applying for, there’s always a chance you won’t make it. And I’ll be honest – I didn’t/don’t make it A LOT. When that happens, it’s hard to not blame yourself and think about why. Maybe I’m not pretty enough, or talented enough, or smart enough. However, my parents taught me to look at things a bit differently.
Inevitably, I would get the call or letter saying I didn’t make the team. My parents would always say “You did your best. They were just looking for something else.”. It was never “You failed” or “You should have tried harder” or “You weren’t good enough”. It was always “Maybe that cheer squad already had enough fliers and needed to fill that spot with another base” or “Maybe that dance team already had too many short girls and needed a tall girl to balance things out.” Notice that my parents never focused on something I could have changed. I couldn’t make myself taller. I couldn’t make myself stronger. I’m me. And that is enough. I just wasn’t what they were looking for.
In fact, I don’t ever remember looking at models in magazines and thinking “Wow, I wish I could look like that.” (To be fair, I’m only like 5’2″, so it’s not like modeling was ever a realistic thing for me to think about anyway.) I’m not saying that I had the self confidence to just get up and do anything I wanted. I’ve always been an incredibly fearful person. But knowing that I am enough gave me the courage I needed to keep auditioning and trying again.
Honestly, that lesson took me far in life. Until I got into the fashion industry. Once I started working as a photo shoot stylist, the world instantly became more superficial. Every single little thing was nitpicked. Things I didn’t even know existed. She shows too much teeth when she smiles. Her eyes are too small. His nose looks weird when he looks that direction. Of course none of those things were said about me. I wasn’t a model. Just a regular girl doing her job behind the scenes. However, it was hard not to start to look for those things in the mirror. Do I show too much teeth when I smile? Does it look like I have a double chin when you look at my profile?
Eventually, it starts to wear you down. Until you see past the superficial to what’s really going on. Yes. The photoshoot world can be vicious. A model is hired for his or her looks. And that is a very tough thing to do. But they also have incredibly talented hair and makeup artists, professional photographers, and very expensive lighting on their side. Plus they learn their angles and poses and know how to make themselves look even better than they do naturally. Not only that, but the camera absolutely loves some people. It’s truly incredible. You can look at someone in person and they are really pretty. And then you see them on film and they are breathtaking. I don’t know how it works, but like I said, the camera really loves certain people.
On top of all of that, there’s also Photoshop. One thing I will always remember is the phrase “Even the models don’t look like that.” (Meaning the finished ads.) In fact, you might walk right by one of your favorite models on the street and never even notice that it’s her. Because everyone looks different after 4 hours of professional hair and makeup, a professional photographer, professional lighting, and a professional retoucher.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are some people who are equally as gorgeous before and after makeup. I’m just saying they didn’t wake up with extra extensions, false lashes, etc. (Trust me. I was on set. Not only that, but I’ve had the opportunity to do a beauty shoot with a professional photographer, professional lighting, professional retouching, etc. And I don’t know what model they swapped my photos with, but the difference is impressive. Because I didn’t know I could look like that!)
The same thing goes for images on social media. Did you know there are people who photoshop clouds into their photos? Or make the sky look more blue? What about all of those cozy fall photos of girls in front of fireplaces watching Hocus Pocus on the computer surrounded by fairy lights? I’m sure there’s NO Photoshop involved there! What about photos where your favorite blogger is the ONLY person in Disney in front of Cinderella’s castle? I’m sure they opened the park just for them and they didn’t edit hundreds of other people out of their photo. Sure, Jan.
Now I will admit… I’ve edited out a blemish or two in the past 3 years of this blog. However, I’ve never edited my body or facial features. I don’t see how editing a photo to remove your pores, make your nose smaller, your boobs bigger, etc. benefits the world. I’m here to share how products work. And although I’m all for using slight filters on quick Instagram stories when I’m not wearing makeup and not feeling very “camera ready”, I don’t think it’s cool to show stories of your “natural every day makeup routine” with a filter that gives you freckles and false lashes.
It has created a world where we ourselves aren’t enough. We have to be just like everyone else. And I am not here for this new world where your nose has to be contoured to the “ideal” size with a little dab of highlighter at the end so you look like a glittery Rudolph just because you saw everyone do it on YouTube. Or that your Instagram feed has to look just like your favorite blogger’s down to the outfit, pose, and caption. We’re morphing into one big pool of “sameness” and forgetting what makes each of us special and unique. And that being special and unique is a good thing.
In fact, I kind of want to go back to the old Instagram where I can take a photo of my lunch or a cool building, add the Hudson or Amaro Instagram filter, no caption, and maybe a random funny hashtag or two like #checkoutmylunch #eatingbetweenmeetings. And definitely not care about likes or reach. That seems like way more fun than the tedious curated algorithm creature that is the Instagram of today.
So next time you start to compare yourself to someone else, take a minute to stop and think about what makes you great. Because I guarantee there’s a lot. And when you start to compare yourself to a model in a magazine or on social media, take a minute to stop and think about what all went into that photo. Because I guarantee there’s a lot. You are you. The one and only. No one can do what you do, the way you do. You have your own special kind of magic. And that is your super power.
And next time you get passed over for a promotion, or you don’t get the guy, or whatever else, just remember – it’s not you. You did your best. You just weren’t what they were looking for. And definitely don’t let social media and magazines get to you. After all, even the models don’t look like that.
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