There’s a certain word going around a lot lately… You’ll see it in all the hashtags, on all the girls’ posts and on all the photo captions. It’s used to describe natural beauty, real moments, and deep thoughts. It’s appealing, there’s no doubt about it.
It sounds pretty and deep. It’s trendy and hipster and boho and mainstream. But I have to ask: is it really being used in the right context? Or is it just another overused trend to make us seem relevant, as we hide our reality behind social media’s cover…
WHAT DO I MEAN?
Recently, I spoke at a purity conference for young girls that my church put on. One of my biggest messages to the girls was this:
Social media has a way of telling us that in order to be cool, popular, accepted, and liked, we have to have everything perfect and pretty. The popular Instagrammers are the ones with perfect feeds that are aesthetically pleasing. The hashtags are filled with #authenticbeauty, #authenticliving, #liveauthentic, and if you search through the photos you’ll see nothing but the most perfectly placed coffee mugs, beach photos with unrelated inspiring quotes, selfies with flawless makeup, and random poses in naturescapes.
In the world I live in – and I think you do as well – we face enormous ups and downs, difficulties, stress, imperfection, disorganization, and…. you know what I’m talking about. The days when we crawl out of bed at the last minute, apply half our makeup in the car, forget our lunch, come home to piles of laundry, push the dishes off for three days, procrastinate with TV shows rather than work or homework, trip and stub our toe, lose our favorite earring, collapse in bed without brushing our teeth… The days when life seems anything but perfect, but when we log into our social media apps and scroll through the endless posts, we see a perfection that is unmatched and unattainable. And we feel guilty. Inadequate. Jealous. Because Stacey has a perfect #authentic life and flawless #authentic beauty and, and, and…..
In my message to the girls at the conference, I brought up Kim Kardashian and how her message of “empowering” girls to be themselves and feel beautiful seems to be the epitome of hypocrisy and of all that wrong in the world’s version of beauty. How can you tell other young women to feel beautiful in their own skin, when you yourself had to transform half of your body with surgery in order to look and feel the way you do? It works the same way in our own social media lives. How can you caption photos with “living authentically” and tell others to do so when you hide your true life behind photos that you painstakingly posed and planned?
I’ve fallen prey to this many times. As a professional photographer, I have a certain obligation to present myself professionally, to create a portfolio and online presence that represents my brand and heart. But recently I’ve starting attempting to stress LESS with the perfection of pretty layouts, and put MORE effort into creating meaningful, heartfelt content. I share from my heart. I tell about the realities of things I struggle with or feel like encouraging others with.
It’s not about the aesthetics, although of course there’s an element of fun and a challenge to it. It’s about being truly authentic.
AUTHENTIC: of undisputed origin; genuine.
I love that word genuine. It means sincere, honest, straightforward, candid, open.
You’re NOT genuine if you’re trying too hard to fit in. You’re NOT authentic if you’re altering your reality in order to appear something you’re not. You’re NOT real if you think that pretty pictures and inspiring quotes will make you a more likeable version of you.
Just be you, girl.
Be authentic for real.
But remember that words matter. And if you’re slapping words around carelessly just because it’s the popular thing to do, then you fall into the same trap of everyone else. Don’t be like everyone else. You are YOU and that’s what matters. You are NOT perfect, and that’s okay. You are fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s eyes… and recognizing THAT is what authentic beauty is all about.
If you want to share this message with other girls too, feel free to share the below image to your Instagram or Facebook, etc.
Then scroll down for a quick challenge I want to give you!
Take a photo of something RAW, REAL, or UNEDITED in your life, and share it on your social media. Tell a story behind the photo, tell us what you’re learning or going through, and pass it on. I would love to see what you share, so feel free to comment here and tell me about it so I can check it out!
It’s been real… ( 😉 )