Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here's something I've noticed...

Since having weight loss surgery and losing 60 pounds (50 more to go, hang in there, Brooke!) I've noticed that I take WAY more selfies than I did before. And when my kids point their phones at me to snap a shot, I don't go running from the room screaming, like I used to. Now I smile, tilt my head, and try to score a cute pic out of the deal. This might seem vain to some, but it's really not. Here's why....

You see, for years (decades, if I'm being honest) I've avoided pictures. Well, that is until I became a professional author who has to have an online presence, whether I feel like it or not. The truth is, if I'm not active on social networking, I don't sell books. And if I don't sell books, I can't pay for my wig habit, or my son's braces. That's a problem for me. And so.......I have an online presence. And because so much of my online presence is about romance, and love, and clothes, and hair, and beauty (or the constant pursuit of such,) I change my pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, etc....a lot. Plus, I *like* changing my pictures a lot these days. My body is changing on a weekly basis!

I used to stage my Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads pictures very carefully. Usually away from windows, because I looked better in the dim light. Usually with lots of tweaking when it came to whatever filters or color trickery I was using on in Instagram. And I usually took said picture with an accessory, like a scarf or a hat, or best yet, some cheese, to take the focus off of my double chin. Oh, and always a downward angle. I looked much better at a downward angle. It's true.

You see? Upward angles = BAD.

Now I find myself taking pictures and selfies in the full light. I stand right by my window and strike my pose. Sometimes I even let the kids take the shot, which usually includes a glimpse of my *GASP* body, too. (Holy crap on a stick--this is a major NO NO in a fat girl's world. True story.) Also, when I take pictures, I usually turn my head to the right slightly, because my left side makes for a better picture than my right.

(Don't believe me? Ugh. Go look in the mirror...take a picture of BOTH sides of your face. There will be one side that will look older, saggier, more wrinkled, and generally just worse than the other. This isn't Brooke being crazy. This is fact. Test my theory. I dare you.)

Not every selfie...or wig...turns out good.

So anyway, I always tilt my head slightly to the right when I take selfies, because my left side looks slightly less saggy and 37 years old than the other. Sometimes I mess with the filter, other times (more often than not anymore) I try to share the shot without using an Instagram filter. This is a really big deal, because I am horribly self conscious (though  no one believes it anymore) and I ALWAYS know I can look better.

But why do I care so much? Why does it matter what I look like in pictures? Why not let people see the "real" me, see the ugly Brooke, too? The other day someone said that all of the selfies I've been posting on Facebook and Instagram of my varying wigs lately are "vain", to which I responded with a surprised "Whaaaaa?"

Wait, wait, wait. So thousands of teenagers, girl and boy (my son included--you should SEE some of the self portraits he has on his iPod), celebrities, and models can post selfies of themselves doing the duck face, half naked, flipping the bird, rolling joints, etc etc etc....all that is acceptable, but a former fat girl posting selfies to get her friend's opinions on her wigs is self obsessed? Come on, man...really?

So this is acceptable....but mine aren't. Okay. Got it.

Okay, let's just cut right to the thick of it: I used to weight 240 pounds. Whether you want to admit it or not, whether or not you think that's fat enough to have warranted WLS or not, whether you think I should keep my mouth shut about it or not, I've lost a crap ton of weight. I was prediabetic, woke up several times a night because of apnea, had parasthesia, and a small list of other embarrassing obesity related issues I care not to mention on my blog. I worked my ARSE off for six months to prepare for my surgery, losing ten percent of my body weight, then suffered through FIVE weeks of a pure liquid diet, painful/invasive surgery, hair loss, and an enflamed esophagus that didn't allow anything larger than the point of a pen to go down my throat.........all to get down to the 170's, which I haven't seen in 15 years, thankyouverymuch, and my new fascination with allowing my picture to be taken is vanity?

*facepalm* Really? I mean, I just...really?

For the first time since BEFORE I gained weight (my food issues started long before I became fat. Read about some of them here!) I actually feel confident enough in myself to share pictures without wanting to gag. I used to post my publicity pictures and pictured with friend and my kids onto Facebook and then I'd just fight the urge to cry because I hated them so much. I used to pick the scene, lighting, clothing, and mood of each picture so meticulously, you'd think it was my freaking wedding pictures. And if I couldn't come across as remotely pretty (which was usually) I went for goofy. Goofy I could do. Goofy was no problem for me.


Now? Ahhhhh. Bliss. Now I don't have to cringe every time the camera goes off. I mean, sure. I'm 37, almost 38...some of the pictures are bad. Believe me, nobody is more aware of my flaws than ME. I've got wrinkles, uneven skin, a poochy tummy I will probably work on for forever, pasty white flesh with freckles, and for PETE'S SAKE, I'm half bald! Cut me some slack! When I post pictures of myself in my different wigs, I'm doing it because after 37 years of feeling sorta ugly, there are random times when I feel sort of....well, how does one put this? Kinda, sorta.... *cringing* pretty.

Is that such a crime? Hasn't a fat girl who has lost a lot of weight earned her moment in the pretty spotlight? Is there no room in the pretty clique for a former fat chick? I've got these wigs now that make me feel a really weird mix of self-conscious and confident (if that makes any sense) all at the same time, and when I share pictures on Facebook or my blog, it isn't to have my ego stroked (though--after a lifetime of feeling ugly--it does feel good for someone to tell me I'm pretty, instead of saying the typical, "You're so funny!" Good grief, I was sick of hearing that! I mean, I like being funny, but when people tell all the other women around you that they're beautiful, then they look at you and say "And YOU'RE funny!" it can be a blow to the ego. I'm just sayin'.)

Maybe, just maybe, I'm sharing pictures of the wigs, to see what my friends think. So that I won't leave my house looking like a busted up drag queen. Has that ever occurred to anyone? How would you feel if you left the house looking like a drag queen, and nobody told you? Granted, some drag queens are gorgeous. Much prettier than I'll ever be. But considering the fact that I have girl's plumbing and have created four human beings with my uterus, looking like a drag queen just makes me sad. And it makes my ovaries sad. True story.

I will never be as pretty as this Drag Queen.

Wait. Back up. I want to pose that question again: How your YOU feel if you'd lost 60 pounds, and your hair had fallen out? Would you need a confidence boost? Would you need to focus on the days you feel kind of pretty, rather than obsessing over the flaws you still can't conquer? Just think about that for a while......

I guess I feel like I've earned the right to share pictures of myself whenever I want, without being teased or judged for it. Maybe instead of being annoyed by my newfound confidence, and my newfound occasional enjoyment of my own body (Gasp! So vain! So wrong! Fat girls aren't supposed to like themselves! For shame...) I feel like others should seek inspiration in that self acceptance. Instead of teasing me for actually liking myself, they should consider looking at themselves, and finding something they like about their own face or body! Do you like your eyes? Take a picture and post it. Do you like your hair? Post a pic! I have a girlfriend who has the most incredible eyebrows I've ever seen, and anybody who knows me, knows how eyebrow obsessed I am (really, a set of eyebrows can make or break a face, I'm just saying) If I were her, I'd post pictures of my brows every day. I really would. I also have a girlfriend who is the most talented cook I've ever met....seriously, my kids beg me to take them to her house for meals, even when we're not invited. If I were her, I'd be taking pictures of myself with all of those successful recipes (donning a cute ruffled apron and a chefs hat, too, you know) every. single. day. She's THAT good.

When did we become a society so eager to tear each other down, however subtly, that we mock a woman for posting pictures of her wigs to get her friend's opinions?

Sometimes I think my biggest critics are the people who are reminded of their own flaws when they look at me. Not necessarily weight-related. But when someone sees a fat, non-supermodel-esque woman showing confidence and happiness, it reminds them that they lack confidence and/or happiness of their own. The fact that I have lost 60 pounds might remind them that they have a few to lose themselves. The fact that I post pictures of me smiling in all my wigs might remind them that they feel to self conscious to post pictures of themselves on social media. The fact that I talk about my job and post links to buy my books might remind them that they're not chasing their own career dreams, and they're infinitely more bummed about it than they let on.

I didn't say all that to be insulting, though. No siree. Here's an idea: why not seek out something on your face or body to boast about? To be proud of? Sure, real beauty is on the inside, and I am the first to admit it. My nifty wigs and goofy selfies aren't going to get me into heaven. My acts and deeds towards my fellow man are. But while I am on this mortal coil, why shouldn't I like this body I am in? Why shouldn't I celebrate overcoming something I honestly figured I would be fighting against for the rest of my life? Why shouldn't I celebrate the body that is going to take me into old age, even older age than it would have taken me before my surgery? What is so wrong with that?

I say we all find something about our outward appearance that makes us happy, and share it. Maybe it's an asset, maybe it's a flaw. Take a picture and share it! It's okay to like a physical attribute. It doesn't make you vain or self obsessed. It makes you well adjusted and secure. When someone doesn't like your confidence, it is an indicator that they lack confidence of their own. Believe me...I know this to be true! When I was morbidly obese, I HATED it when skinny people told me about their workouts. Like, I hated it with a passion! Why? Because I was fat, and I knew I needed to be working out, too. If your confidence in your own appearance makes other people mad, they probably feel self conscious about something on their own face or body. Maybe help them discover what is beautiful about themselves?

And in that same mentality, why not find something you love about your personality, and brag about that, too? Post on FB about how much you love it when you make crafts with your kids, because it makes you feel good about your mothering skills. Brag about how much you love to read. Some people go cross eyed when they look at a book for longer than 10 minutes, and you can curl up with one for a WEEK without stopping. Go, you! Brag about how much you love seeing dirt under your nails because you're finally doing your spring planting, and nothing makes you happier than a big summer garden. Though I don't think it's right to be boastful about your assets, and I think you should be using your talents to share with and help others, I really do think it's okay to be proud of yourself for something.

I'm proud to have lost 60 pounds. I'm proud that I can move and do things more comfortably now. I'm proud that I took a rotten situation (losing my hair) and turned it into a fun experiment in wigs that has helped me to make half a dozen friends with readers who have also suffered from hair loss. I'm proud to have chased my dream career and achieved it. I'm proud that I've gone through grief so painful this last year, I wasn't sure I was going to make it, and yet here I am--smiling and enjoying my life with my husband and children again. I'm proud that I am strong enough to stand up for myself when I need to, and I don't feel compelled to back down to bullies. I'm proud that my husband finds me beautiful, even when my hair is off. I'm proud that my kids think I'm funny and crazy, and they consider wherever I am to be home.

Another upward angle. *snort*

My wish for 2014 (amongst world peace and a pony) is that we will all find something about ourselves that we love, and post the everliving crap about it on social media. :)

1 comment:

  1. Could you hear my roar from over here? 'Cause the sound that came out of me reading this was pretty warrior-ish.

    Why are some people such pricks? Sure, selfies can get out of hand sometimes—I know a teenager whom I adore that goes through phases of multiple daily selfies and it makes me cringe. But that's because of MY own self-confidence issues. If I could just get my skin to stay clear for more than 24 hours (adult acne is so lame) I'd probably enjoy it too. It's pretty much an envy thing. lol

    I think people also forget that as women who work in a very online industry... we're stuck taking selfies so we have images for our jobs. Who wants to beg someone to take their picture? I hate asking my husband to do it. I think I've done it once, ever. My husband rarely takes my picture at random but when he does I'm immediately begging he send it to me so I can update my profiles. I suck at the whole selfie thing... and am not photogenic at all (the irony of that when having a former model for a mom is not lost on me). Every photo I actively use online has been retouched by me in some way whether it's removing acne or cropping out my tummy. I'm embarrassed by these things and feel even weirder when I meet people and they comment on how pretty I am. I don't see what they see and it sucks. So rock on with your selfies if you're feeling pretty!

    Keep taking pictures of yourself! Be proud of your accomplishments and when you feel like posting photos because you FEEL good/pretty/proud/etc. tell the haters where they can shove it. I should probably take that advice myself. lol