Gretchen L. Kelly, Author


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“Brainstorm take me away from the norm,

I’ve got to tell you something.  This phenomenon, I had to put it in a song.  And it goes like

Whoa, Amber is the color of your energy,

Whoa, Shades of gold display naturally…”

-311, Amber

I have a confession to make. I am actually a very open person. My Mom calls me her “Open Book” because I will tell anyone my thoughts, feelings, my shortcomings, my insecurities. (No this isn’t the confession, I’m getting to that). And it’s true. In real life I have no secrets. I start spilling my guts to people even when I’m just getting to know them. This baffles my husband who is much more private by nature. What I’m beginning to realize is that while I’m open in real life and share everything with people I interact with in real life, I am uncharacteristically private here. In this format, on this blog. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because it would be documented in word. In print. That kind of makes it more revealing and people tend to remember what they read more than what they hear (not a scientific fact, just my assumption). Maybe it’s because this place matters so much to me. It matters more to me than I thought it would when I started blogging. It is possible that I’m worried that if I reveal too much of the real me that I will sully this place that I love. I will ruin what I’ve started and what I have grown to love. So, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and making a confession(finally). I am vain.

This is the part where I’m going to try to make that sound not so bad. I am not vain in the “I think I’m awesome, I look awesome, everyone look at me” kind of way. I am vain in the more quiet, fly under the radar way. I am vain in the “Ewww, don’t take a picture of me” kind of way. I am vain in the I want to view myself with the fuzzy, memory infused haze of how I used to look instead of the reality of what 41 years and three kids have done to my appearance. (Yes, I just blamed my precious children for ruining my looks.)

It’s not that I hate the way I look.  I’m generally o.k. with my appearance.  I’ve accepted certain things (I will always have dark circles and bags under my eyes) and other things I actually like.  Probably  a better way of putting it is I accept and even like my appearance, it’s grown on me over the last 41 years. But it wasn’t easy arriving at this place.  I was a dorky, awkward kid.  My awkward phase was unusually long.  There are times that I still see myself as that dorky kid with big teeth and Greg Brady hair.

I would love to tell you that my looks don’t matter to me.  For the most part they don’t, but there is a small part of me that really cares.  We are often our own worst critic.  I have torn myself down visually on more than one occasion.  My critical eye doesn’t extend to other people.  I see beautiful people everywhere.  In the carpool line, at the grocery store.  I don’t look at others and even consider applying the standards of “conventional beauty” to them.  I think society’s ideas about what is beautiful is bullshit.  I always have.  I think confidence and humor go a long way in making someone beautiful.  I have always been more attracted to someone who is interesting and unique looking rather than your typical good looking guy.  I was the girl who fell for the guys that left some of my friends scratching their heads.  They didn’t always see what I saw in some guys.

It’s also worth noting the difference between pretty and beautiful.  Pretty is someone who was given the genetic makeup to fit into society’s idea of what is attractive.  You know- tall, thin, perfectly symmetrical features, high cheekbones…  Beautiful is a different thing altogether.  Beauty comes in many different shapes, colors, sizes.  True beauty is something that shines form within.  It can be a smile, a laugh, a sparkle in the eye.  It can be a flair for being mischievous, it can be a spirit of adventure, it can be wit and humor.  It can be the way someone carries themselves, the way they tilt their head or the way they walk. It can be so many different things. I see beautiful people all around me.  Everyday.  And many of them likely don’t think of themselves as beautiful. Many of them would never make it on the cover of a magazine.

All of that being said, my vanity is not based in logic.  I know that the way I look is not important.  I know that people in my life don’t like me because of the way I look.  But vanity and insecurity, like so many negative emotions aren’t rational.  But it’s there.  I am acknowledging that it resides deep inside me and I’m not particularly proud of it.

I recently heard about the #feministselfie project.  The idea behind it is for women to take a selfie every day for a year.  The point is for women to put themselves in front of the camera, to show themselves.  Show themselves glammed up or au natural, in joy or in pain… however they feel or whatever mood strikes them.  Social media will be flooded with pictures of real women, positive selfies.  And ultimately, through this exercise of seeing themselves and seeing other women embrace themselves, some of that will infiltrate our subconscious via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram….  We will hopefully see real beauty.  Not the commercialized watered down homogenized version of beauty that is thrust in our faces every day by the media and by our society.

A lot of fellow bloggers are participating.  I saw their pictures on Twitter.  I was impressed.  I was intrigued.  And I was a little envious.  I scrolled through their selfies and I saw women who looked confident.  I saw women who looked comfortable in their own skin.  I saw women who were fearlessly putting themselves out there for the whole world to see.  And I saw women who were beautiful.  I read some of their blogs.  I realized that some of them were not so comfortable in front of the camera.  They were stepping outside of their comfort zones.  And many of them said that as they went through this process, they started to view themselves differently.  They weren’t as critical of every picture.  They started to embrace the beauty that each and everyone of them uniquely own.  I sighed with resignation knowing that I should participate.  This was something that scared me, which probably meant it would be good for me.  I am going to do this for those fellow bloggers.  For the women who are tired of only seeing the perfection waved in front of them as an unattainable and unrealistic goal.  For my daughters so that maybe the public conscious will eventually shift and they won’t grow up in a world that places priority on the sameness and the superficial.  But I’m also doing it for me.  I want to be in my family’s photo album.  I want to be in front of the camera once in a while.  I want to not care about what the version of me in my head says I need to be.  I want to take myself when I’m glammed up or au natural, in joy or in pain.  I want to take myself for better of for worse.

My first one, writing this post….
My first one, writing this post….

5 Responses

  1. Dont ever ever complain about being 41 when a 51 year old is reading… Im fighting time like David fought hanging in there but im started to get scared

    1. Ha! We all know that men get off easy in this whole aging deal! I really don’t want to be one of those people that complains about getting older, but I swear you wake up one morning and bam! I will continue to blame my kids.

      1. Somehow i have never developed that acceptance of growing older that everyone talks about. I feel like i know myself far more than i ever have, but i rage against it. Exercise in futility that i inherently cant seem to rid myself of.. I think women age wonderfully today if we want to get down and vain. Years ago women looked old by 40. Now they look superb at that age. And have i told you i hate botox?

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