Self image is a hot topic these days. There is a huge influx of new bloggers devoted to the topic. Facebook groups are popping up. Parenting books and books for ladies and even faith-based books – all telling us how to feel good about ourselves. The entire Dove® advertising strategy is built around it. All telling us that we should stop beating ourselves up with our imperfections.
And I agree with them.
We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. But we do.
We shouldn’t get mad at ourselves when that bathing suit just doesn’t fit as well as we would like. But we do.
We shouldn’t bemoan the stretch marks and c-section scars left behind by motherhood. But we do.
It’s hard enough for me to feel good about myself all the time. It is even harder trying to raise children to have a healthy self image while I’m still trying to figure out what mine is.
But there is a new trend developing that bothers me a little. People getting naked for the camera in order to shout to the world, “Hey – I’m beautiful!!”
Nude photos on the internet isn’t a new concept. Heck, one of the main reasons that millions of people even look around online is for nude photos. I’m not talking about porn here. I am talking about art. I am talking about self image projects that are crafted to prove the point that we are all different and should be proud of our bodies.
Some of these projects include “4th Trimester Bodies Project” and “The Militant Baker: A Love Letter to the World Through Our Magnificent Bodies”. Google them if you are interested in what they are doing. They are both very beautiful projects in their own way and both are done in very artistic ways and for a specific purpose and audience.
There is a big part of me that feels like we are taking this need for a healthy self image way too far. Now hear me out:
I think this type of art form should stand on its own merit: on its own website or art gallery or book. In a place where if I choose to look at it for my own entertainment or education or enlightenment I can go there and do so. I don’t want to stumble on it while I am skimming social media for vacation photos, inspirational quotes, and pictures of what everyone had for dinner. I also don't want to have to worry about my children seeing it when they are looking over my shoulder.
Am I being closed minded? Many would probably say yes. But here’s the deal: what we say about ourselves in front of our children also becomes a part of their self image. If I call myself fat in front of my children, at some point they cease to see me as their beautiful mother but as their fat mother. Then they begin to question their own beauty.
I don’t want my little girl to one day think that a person should pose nude for the camera in order to feel validated.
People hurt themselves each and every day to make themselves fit a certain mold and become stereo-typically beautiful. People are starving themselves and have eating disorders.
Having a healthy and realistic self image is a very important part of being a healthy person. I think with the “sex sells” mindset of today – throwing nudity back at nudity isn’t going to change that mindset.
I don’t want to close down the whole conversation. I think it is an important one to have. But can’t we just have this self image conversation thing without baring all? Can we chat in our yoga pants and comfy t-shirts? Maybe my feet will be bare, but that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.
Jennifer Collins is a Graceful Mess.
Living a messy life, full of grace.
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