Behind the pictures & why social media can’t tell the whole story


As I mentioned in Monday’s post, this weekend I had an FCA photo shoot! This is about the 4th time I’ve had pictures taken for FCA and I have to say I’ve come a long way since the very first one two years ago.

While my posing skills haven’t improved much, my self-esteem definitely has. I remember when we went through the pictures after the first shoot in Wilmington, NC, I definitely was very critical of most of the pictures and it was hard to embrace the whole concept of self-acceptance. This time around, I was happy with a much larger percentage of the pictures and didn’t spend any time being dismayed or discouraged by the rest. It’s hard to say what exactly prompted this change but I think time, just getting older and becoming more used to seeing yourself ‘on screen’ all helped. Also, I think over the past two years I’ve become more conscious of setting aside time on a weekly basis to exercise and developed healthier eating habits. While how I look hasn’t changed all that much, self-care and self-compassion can work wonders for how you see yourself.

I think social media (including all the photography involved) can make it harder for us to embrace self-acceptance. The standard of beauty has been set at perfection by magazines, movies and TV shows, Instagram and even Snapchat. The whole concept of getting the ‘perfect shot’ has become the focus of all our social events and outings. We want to prove to the world our beauty, our importance and our level of activity. We see curated pictures or  ‘candid’ shots from celebrities and companies that may be a little too perfect to be real and then immediately set that as the norm.

We see our friends’ lovely wedding pictures or someonewebarelyknow’s post about a fun social event…we see the highlight reel of everyone else’s lives and wonder why it is that everyone else has it so much better than we do.

Here’s the truth: social media only tells part of the story. A small, shiny part. It can’t capture the essence of a person or the reality of a situation, only the acceptable and potentially admirable part.

For example, Friday night (the night before the shoot) I slept approximately 2 hours. Why? I had a weird pain in my shoulder and was convinced I was having a heart attack. I tend to worry, like, a lot. And make really big deals out of things that aren’t of much importance at all. But can you tell that from these pictures? Not even a little bit. There’s no way for you to know that I was running on fumes; or that it was so incredibly hot that my makeup was pretty much gone after an hour; or that I went home, threw on workout clothes and polished furniture after the shoot (#glamorous).

You see the pretty dress, the beautiful background and the perfect lighting and think ‘wow, why don’t my pictures look like that?’

The truth is it takes a lot of time and effort (and really talented photographers, thank you Lizzy) to finally get that ‘perfect shot’ and ultimately there is only so much it can communicate.

You don’t know how I’m really feeling or the full story of what is going on around me. I say all this not to diminish or be critical of social media but as a reminder that we can’t let that skew our vision of how we should be or what are lives should look like.

We all experience difficulties, all of us. We all are currently struggling with something and when that resolves itself, something else will come along. That’s life. But there is also so much beauty and things worthy of celebration in life. Social media (including the pictures) helps us to celebrate those things. In fact, I think every girl should have a photo shoot every now and then. To dress up and be goofy in front of the camera is not only fun but also a good way to celebrate your beauty and your grace; a little reminder of what others see when they look at you.

I really enjoyed taking those pictures and am excited for the next time around. However I do want to emphasize the fact that just because these may look ‘picture perfect,’ that isn’t reality. The reality is that I’m on the struggle bus as much as anyone else (sometimes it feels like I’m driving it) and my life is far, far from perfect. So let’s take the pics and post our little hearts out, remembering that while fun and useful- there’s much more to us than our latest Instagram post.



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