The backlash against “selfies,” once called self-portraits back in the day, makes me sad. Instead of seeing people — not just women, mind you — celebrating everything from the everyday mundane — a good hair day — to the hard-earned accomplishment — a marathon finish — we point fingers and tell them they’re wrong. Wrong for celebrating the little things, the big things. Wrong for making this face or that. Wrong for focusing on self. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The Internet remains very good at telling people they’re doing it wrong, but struggles to do what is right in and of itself.
Beyond that, the baseless attempt of calling all selfies a “cry for help” gave me pause.
Because… what if a selfie is a cry for help?
If someone came up to you, in person, and asked for help, would you turn them away? Would you mutter and snicker about their “cry for help” and point out how weak they are? What if they didn’t use verbal forms of communication to let you know that they needed help? Would you roll your eyes and walk away? What if someone you loved dearly walked into your home and looked unlike themselves, despondent and beyond sad? Would you ignore it?
What if the girl who just posted a selfie of a good hair day is looking for just one good thing in her otherwise bad week, month, or life? What if the teenage boy who just shared a picture of himself playing the guitar just wants someone to ask him one thing — anything — about the feelings behind the chords? What if the mom who posts a picture of her toned body after delivery just wants one person to acknowledge that she’s still a human being, not just an incubator? What if the athlete just wants someone to say, “Good job,” instead of, “No one cares about your run.” (Note: I care.) What if that sad, puppy dog face that looks fake isn’t fake and the person behind the big, sad eyes needs someone — another human being — to care?
What if the smile on her face is plastered there? What if she’s trying to make everyone think everything is okay? What if she wouldn’t know what to say if you asked her if she was okay? What if it’s the hardest week of her year and she’s just trying to make it through without doing something stupid?
And instead of simply liking the photo or, you know, scrolling on by, you write a whiny comment or a vaguetweet or a Facebook post or a lengthy, self-righteous blog post about how you’re so sick and tired of selfies. Instead of reaching out, you push her away. Instead of offering a shoulder, you kick him while he’s down. Instead of involving yourself in that person’s life — really connecting via social media — you continue to perpetuate the false belief that online friendships aren’t real, that they don’t matter to those involved, that they can be tossed easily aside without feelings or repercussions.
You, then, are the source of the problem, not the selfie, cry for help or celebration or narcissism or everyday mundane nothingness or anything in between. You. Because if you see affirming other human beings that someone cares as a bad thing, you need someone to come into your life and offer you some affirmation that life isn’t as bad as you think it is.
I’m not claiming that every selfie is a cry for help. I don’t see the world that easily. I see the humans who post selfies as complex individuals that choose to share bits and pieces of their lives for any number of reasons. To connect, to reach out, to have a face to face moment in a faceless world, to breathe bits of life into an anonymous world, to celebrate, to cry out, to be real.
I want to see your selfies, when you need a pat on the back or a hug or a kick in the pants. I want to celebrate with you, I want to cry with you. I want you to know that even when you think that no one cares, someone does. Especially then.
Eight years ago, I didn’t really have a style. I mean, other than the obvious fact that eight years ago today I was rocking a hospital gown.
Besides that forcible non-fashion that followed nine months of maternity wear, I didn’t really know how to dress. Not for my body type, not for my lifestyle, not for my likes in texture and color. I had ideas of how I might like to dress, and they showed up here and there in special occasion outfits like my wedding shower, a friend’s wedding shower, and so on. But for the normal day-to-day, I didn’t know what I wanted to wear or, if I did, I didn’t know how to pull it off.
I’m not saying that becoming a mother made my fashion. It didn’t directly change how I dressed or presented myself to the world, other than I occasionally went out in public looking bedraggled because, well, I was bedraggled. Children, especially babies, have a literal way of sucking the life right out of you, but you still have to run to the store in order to buy food to keep the family alive. I will not apologize for the yoga pants and spitup shirts of days gone by nor will I apologize for the yoga pants and pullover I wore while shopping yesterday. I had just ran for the first time since my foot injury, but needed to go out and grab some last minute stuff for BigBrother’s birthday today.
However, being a mother has shaped the way I see myself, and not really in many very negative ways.
Yes, I weigh more than I did before any of my babies came to be. I also have some lovely curves that I attribute to their pregnancies. I also have some killer runner’s legs now. You’ll hear no complaints from me on any of these things. Mainly, I see myself frequently as my boys see me: as their beautiful Mommy.
That’s enough for me, for now, for maybe always.
I disappointed myself today.
My husband has been on this kick about the Big Things he wants to teach our sons, the important things that we kind of overlook as important sometimes. Life’s little lessons that aren’t really so little. He wants to present them in age appropriate bites of knowledge, so at this point, it would be things like, “Be brave.”
I wasn’t brave today.
I’m not good at confrontation, even when I know what is being said or done is wrong. I second guess myself. I doubt whether I should be involved, step forward, if it’s my place stick up for someone else. It’s part of my personality though; I like to think things through — often to the point of overthinking — before doing something. While one might argue that course of action is better than impulsivity, it sometimes results in a lack of doing anything. At all. That’s not good either. I struggle to find that middle ground.
My lack of action this morning bothered me all day. I took a nap, something I rarely do, and woke up with the issue in my head and on my heart. I figured that functioned as some kind of sign, so I made some calls and put wheels in motion to rectify the situation at hand. I feel upset that I didn’t step in right away, especially as our Pastor’s sermon focused on taking care of others.
I hope to add to the conversation with our sons about being brave after the lessons I learned today. Sometimes being brave means taking time to think it through, to do a thorough gut-check and make sure that you’re following the right course of action. Sometimes being brave means thinking twice. Sometimes being brave means making a phone call even when you just want to ignore what happened.
Sometimes being brave means stepping forward when you just want to sit back.
I took two weeks off from writing and sharing What I Wore Sunday both in this place and on Instagram. Two weeks ago, I took the photos, but fell asleep before I blogged. Last week, well, you all know what I wore.
The time off wasn’t necessary; I don’t feel bogged down by this particular series on the blog. I was talking with my husband this morning about a friend’s daughter and how she liked to dress nicely and had an interest in fashion; I said I loved that about her. He raised an eyebrow at me as if to say, “NO WAY.” I do like fashion, dressing nice, and generally feeling good not only in my own skin but in the clothes I put on top of my skin. Feeling good in both feels great.
The two week break gave me time to reflect on where I started — this time last year.
First Sunday of November, 2012
And where I am today.
Last Sunday of October, 2013
A year ago, I said I would never write this series here on the blog. I was just going to share some collage pictures on Instagram. Why? It felt safer. I didn’t have to put words to my pictures; I just had to share my outfits. After talking with friends and making the decision to start the series here on the blog, I didn’t quite know how or what to write every week once I took the leap of faith to share it here in January of this year. For awhile, I wrote only about the clothes. And that was fine, but it evolved along the way into a place to share stories — sometimes about clothes, sometimes about being a wife or mother or friend, sometimes about life as it happens. The posts here became less about “I like this dress” and “gee, aren’t these shoes swell,” and more about doing what I do: taking photos and writing words.
And now, after a two week break after a year of consistently sharing my Sunday outfits, I feel ready and willing to continue. I enjoy having made the shift away from iPhone only photos to using my camera. Though that meant today’s photos weren’t taken until late afternoon, thus I don’t look as “fresh” in either face or clothes wrinkles due to a full day of Sunday School, church, lunch, the last soccer game of the season, trying to find a pumpkin patch that still had pumpkins, and failing. Sometimes it’s a challenge to get the photos taken, to get the post written — like two weeks ago when I fell asleep before I could blog. Sometimes other things are more important on a Sunday — like the half marathon last weekend.
For now, know that I plan on continuing this series. It makes me happy to share one of the outfits that I put together. (And because I’m asked so much, yes, I dress like this five days out of seven on average. Yes, I was that girl in high school who wore skirts and dresses while everyone else wore sweatpants.) I plan on writing stories as I have been instead of talking specifically about clothes (unless the story is about clothes) or rambling on about writing — or not writing — like in this post.
And, more over, I reserve the right to miss a week when life calls for me to be elsewhere, doing other things. It’s okay. I promise.
I can breathe again! I’m still fighting some allergies; they’ve improved, but before things got better, I got a cold on top of it and, wow, this past week was a struggle. But mommies don’t really have time to struggle, especially when they’re taking care of little ones with colds of their own — a cold that has turned into a wicked awful cough, by the way. My mommy heart breaks and my ears die a little every time he coughs.
At one point this week, with tissues stuffed up my nose while sitting in front of the computer, BigBrother asked me, “Why are you working? Aren’t you sick?” I had to explain that, for adults, we don’t necessarily just get to take the day off because we have a low grade fever. Deadlines must be met, conference calls must be had, and projects must be completed. Being an adult is tough. He learned a little bit of that as we practiced his spelling words in his bed so he could take his test when he finally went back to school.
I realized at one point, however, that I’m tons better at taking care of sick kids than taking care of myself. All week, I said to BigBrother, “Are you drinking your water?” “Refill your water bottle.” “Drink more water!” Despite being sick myself, I did not drink one drop of water. Until I realized that fact on Friday and began drinking all of the water, of course. But not one! I said something about water to that child at least 50 times — and not once did I think, “Hey! I should hydrate too!” Not. Once.
Self-care is tricky; it’s hard to remember to sit still, to rest, to take care of myself when I need to just sit still, rest, and take care of myself. I feel like I still need to be on top of my game, still getting all of the things done despite functioning at 50 percent… or less. Though, to be fair to myself, I recognized how depleted I was one morning and went back to bed after LittleBrother went to school. Until 10:30. I had to work until stupid hours that night to make up for the sleeping in, but my body thanked me. A little bit.
I’m hopeful that we all improve this week… and that I remember to take care of myself.