When I was in my twenties I didn’t think much about the world around me, or at least I didn’t with the same ferocity that I do now. I wasn’t truly interested in changing anyone or anything, except maybe me. My focus towards change was certainly more inward, as is true for a lot of young people. It’s hard enough trying to get your own stuff straight, never mind trying to shatter perceptions and misconceptions. On top of being a “twenty-something”, I was a young mom too and to be honest I just didn’t really have time for any of that.
Now to be fair I wasn’t oblivious, I was pretty well read and I spoke up so much in my political science classes in undergrad that I remember someone once said that someday they expected to see me on the steps of the capital fighting for…well anything. I had lots of thoughts about lots of things. And while I wanted that prediction to be true, outside of those classroom walls, I was just a mom, daughter, sister and friend trying to keep all of my balls in the air.
But now that I’m older, I have even more thoughts about even more things and one of those things is truly loving the stage I’m in. My 20’s were a blur. Lots of mistakes, lots of hustling to try to set things right and lots of love being given to everyone but me.
I didn’t document much of my twenties either. There are pictures of some things-thank goodness and no pictures of others (thank goodness for that too.) But just like many of you, as soon as I hit my groove-That point in our lives where things make sense, where we feel pretty good about who we are and what we’re doing-I like many of you got the message that we weren’t supposed to be seen anymore. We were quite literally expected to take ourselves out of the photos. And so we delegated ourselves to be the picture taker.
I’ve had so many friends tell me they don’t want their picture taken. “I haven’t been in a family photo for years!” one woman told me. “I’d never post a selfie,” said another. “Nobody wants to see that!” Except they do…Or at least I know I do. The reason we don’t think our photos deserve a space is that we often don’t see ourselves represented anywhere. In the past decade, women over 40 gradually faded from ads, from television and movies-unless we’re playing someone’s mother. And for some women who are also underrepresented, they were never really there at all. But there’s a shift that’s been happening recently and we have a chance to jump on board and change the tide too.
This year Tyra Banks is gracing the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue 23 years after she made her initial debut, and Paulina Porizkova appears 36 years later (sporting a bikini and wrinkles to boot ) and while yes, I know these are women who hit the genetic lottery and many people associate SI with objectification and the Male Gaze, but the reality is that even supermodels didn’t have a real place anywhere in print media (after about the age of 30) before now.
I think social media is helping change this which means we are at the helm. I’ve talked about why I believe that social media is changing the beauty standard before. I wrote about how we get to choose what’s beautiful, instead of having it spoon fed to us and how we get to stand up and push back on the slanted view of what it means to be a woman who doesn’t fit the narrow standard.
And, even if you aren’t feeling all “power to the people” like I am. I hope that no matter how old you are or what you identify as, that you believe that you deserve to be seen. That your family wants you in the photos. That, other women who look like you want you in the photo and here’s why YOU should want you in the photos.
Not only are you helping to change the beauty standard and let people know how fabulous it is to be__(insert whatever diverse underrepresented category you fit into- over 40, women of color, plus size, etc) but you’re also documenting your life. Pictures do that for us. I miss my dad and my grandma like crazy and I run my fingers across their pictures all the time. It’s a part of what they’ve left behind. I don’t want to just see them young and spry. I want the full picture (pun fully intended) And, no matter what you think of yourself right now I guarantee you that in 20 years you’ll look back and realize just how good you looked, so snap away!!
I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’d really love to see your pics!
P.S check out the hashtag #ShowUs on IG-I recently did a sponsored post with O, The Oprah Magazine and three other OMagInsiders and I loved hearing what they had to say about media and beauty representation too!
Until next post,