I'm of an age when certain women shy away from the camera. I must admit that for several years now I've been slightly taken aback when presented with a photograph of myself. My best friends daughter was married last year and my bestie was shocked when she saw the photographs.
At first glance she thought her daughter herself and herself her Mother. It took only moments to realise the mistake yet continual personal affirmations to become in some way comfortable with visible fact that she'd aged and had in fact turned into her Mother.
So as I begin to embrace social media, in particular Instagram, I am fascinated with the masses of pictures of 'themselves' people are so happy to present. Their 'selfies'. Posing, pouting, pruning and fluffing their hair ready for their camera. I have recently been on a beach holiday and was intrigued with the single girls who sat alone on the beach, quite unselfconsciously taking their own portraits.
Happily posing in front of their own phones totally oblivious to on lookers. But are these people really happy, self confident individuals. I don't think they necessarily are? It seems all about an image that they want to convey rather than their true self. I have a cousin who took her niece on holiday. "She's a stunningly beautiful 14 year old", my cousin told me "but she is so lacking in self confidence and shied away every time we tried to take a holiday snap". Yet this nieces' FaceBook page is covered in her own selfies, all made-up and posed for the camera.
This whole phenomenon has got me thinking. As an artist who paints beautiful women I decided to start a project called #loveyourselfie. Send me your selfie pics and I'll make you into a work of art. The response has been incredible and I have been flooded with pouting, flirtatious, seductive selfies from most of my younger audience.
My older clients have taken a little more persuasion. Hold the camera in the air, put your head back and gaze up into the sky. It's amazing how your wrinkles fall away. I learnt this trick from the beautician handing me a mirror to study my newly dyed eyebrows while I was still laying flat on my back on the beauty parlours couch. Ah! There you are! It reminds me of that scene with Robin Williams in Peter Pan when one of the lost boys pushes back the grown up Peter Pans face to see the hidden boy within.
It's a balance this business of being happy with our image and therefore loving ourselves. The Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says "To be beautiful means to be yourself" You are unique, a one off and this is something to be celebrated. We are all unique and all equal, no one better than the next just because their nose seems to be a little smaller and therefore 'cuter'.
I have become happier with myself as I have grown older and grown in confidence with who I am as a woman, a mother, a lover and a bloody amazing artist to boot. I do have a few laughter lines, several 'thought creases', my 'twinkling wrinkles' and they make me me and I can happily live with those. The selfie portraits that I paint don't show these 'marks of life' just as make-up smoothes over the blemishes.
Cover them up if it makes us happy. Nip and tuck, why not. Filler our lips and botox our brows but please don't loose our individuality, our uniqueness. Dress and adorn ourselves but let our inner beauty shine through. You are UNIQUE. You are beautiful, gorgeous, a one off #loveyourselfie.
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