Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hashtag Live Authentic

Perfection.
Oh, perfection.
I have never considered myself a perfectionist. I am “an idealist who believes if she practices her art long enough, she could be the next great fashion designer or children’s book illustrator.” An idealist who thinks if she “had time to network better and painted her kitchen white and invested in a marble cutting board and a stone backdrop and a linen tunic and architectural jewelry, she could be the next big food blogger.” An idealist who feels that if she “could arrange the schedules just so, she could be an excellent nanny and blogger and stylist and illustrator and author and cooking-show host and event coordinator and baker and bookstore-owner and extra on a film set because, hey, why not?”
“I’m not a perfectionist,” I say. “I’m an overachiever who fights against natural law to feel that she can be everything if she just works a little harder or longer or reads up on art history.” That is the promise and trial of being my kind of Rachel. I want to be everything and, far from taking the realistic route, my determined view of the world tells me I can be. And maybe I can, taking them one at a time. My idealism puts a lot of optimistic, enthusiastic pressure on me to follow those rainbow dreams. But for the last several years I’ve committed to something intentional and I want to explain:
I am not and never will be perfect. So I am not and will never pretend to be perfect in my social media presence.

// bananagram //


My photos are not all shot at “golden hour” with beautiful backdrops and inspirational quotes dancing attendance. The lighting in that photo isn’t ideal but I will put it on Instagram because it captured a moment in which I was supremely happy. I haven’t been to Paris and I certainly haven’t been to Iceland and taken mind-blowing photos in a field of lupine….I’ve been to DC…if that counts. In that same vein of thought, I paint but I don’t paint very well. Yet I still share the fruits of my efforts because it keeps me humble. Am I Kerrie Hess? No. Will I ever be? I’m not sure, but painting gives me pleasure and I am not going to hide the result because it is not on par with a Degas.  I am not a super-model. I don’t pose well and I never know where to look and arms? Where the heck do I put my arms?! Behind? In front? One behind and one in front? Above my head? What is the  purpose of that “arm-pit pose?”  I see the allure of being one of those women on Instagram. I get “Pin-vy” as quickly as the next girl and I drool over the chic-ness of these strangers’ highly-edited, uber-classy facades. Often, I’m willing to believe they have attained that level of class in all areas of their lives, not just in this carefully-selected, filtered, and airbrushed set of photos in a blog post.

//art attempts//

My boss subscribed me to Elle Magazine for my birthday, and I’ve sincerely enjoyed getting the fashion magazine in the mail every month and browsing it. But while flipping through page after page of perfect-looking women, reading article after article of perfectly successful people, smelling sample after sample of perfect-smelling perfumes, lusting ad after ad over perfect-sounding lipsticks, I shut the magazine with a smile. This is an editorial. Editorial. Changed, altered, airbrushed. Not the total picture of anyone between its covers. But every ad and most of the content is published to help women who seek to gain the standard attained in a single snapshot of a beautiful actress. Who, by the way, had an entire team of men and women helping her reach that peak…and then a team of artists to tweak the image post-op.
“You know you want to be her. You know you can be her. If you were more ______.”
I think of Stanley Tucci’s role in The Devil Wears Prada, his smirk and sarcasm perfectly timed as he verbally slaps Anne Hathaway’s character:
“That’s what this multi-billion dollar business is really about, isn’t it? Inner beauty.”


This inane desire for perfection comes to all of us because deep down, we know  that by ourselves we’re incomplete. As a Christian, I have the treasure of knowing that my wholeness will only be complete in Christ and I pray that each one of you will realize the same thing. Christ is the only one who acknowledges your imperfection and doesn’t ask you to perfect yourself before approaching him.  The editor of Elle might want you to be thinner or get a nose job. The Instagram community wants you to wear more Toms and buy a Polaroid camera and fill your bedroom with succulents you are able to keep alive only because they don’t require the maintenance time you’ve devoted to getting beachy waves in hair that hasn’t seen a salt-breeze in six months. The Pinterest users rate your success by giving or withholding likes and re-pins on the photos you slaved over in hopes they’d push “like” or “pin”. The bloggers check to see if you’ve used matcha recently or bought Valentino shoes and if you haven’t, pass you by. Your success in their eyes is directly related to how many followers you have or don’t have. And if you don’t have enough followers to be popular, they aren’t going to stick around long enough to help make you so. Perfection is an empty game of Blind Man’s Bluff with everyone blindfolded, fumbling about to catch the seeing players of whom there were none to begin with.

// using the "arm-pit pose" //


So I’m committed to showing my flaws. I value presenting the best version of myself to the world. You know I do. It’s clear to people who know me that I try to live life with grace and care in my appearance, pursuits, and accomplishments. Showing the world the best version of you...it can be an act of worship if you are doing it in the right spirit, i.e. of glorifying God and adorning His temple within your body. I don't argue against or disagree with the pursuit of beauty. In fact, I wholeheartedly support it. But the best version of me is the true version, and she is far from perfect. 
There are bags under her eyes and a dim light bulb illuminates in her bedroom. She has never owned a Kate Spade purse and has to buy extra-wide  boots to fit her calves. She isn’t very good at hand-lettering and can’t draw a pair of focused eyes. She doesn’t speak a second language and can’t play an instrument and if you mention Sigmund Freud, all she knows about the man is that he talked a lot about sex and left his name as an adjective for ironically serendipitous moments. She can tell you what a macerated strawberry is, but guesses how to pronounce “sauvignon blanc.” She follows politics as well as she can but takes most of her information second-hand from cleverer friends. She accidentally bleached her brand new jeans this afternoon.
She’s imperfect.
And you love her better for it.
Please don’t be afraid to show your imperfection because the world needs a lot more humility than it currently has. It does give pride a blow to allow the general public to know your eyebrows run to seed and you broke out after resting your chin in your hand for ten minutes. It stings. And God forbid you ever admit you wash your hair every day. Isn’t there a coconut-oil routine for that?

Relax.

Let down your hair from its carefully-piled messy-bun and pull off the fake eyelashes and the uncomfortable doesn't-quite-fit Lily dress you bought because 12 was the only size on sale. You’ll be okay. I promise. You’ll probably be more okay than you imagine. Also, just so you know, your #liveauthentic is showing. 

10 comments:

  1. LOVE. I love your imperfect posts on the webs. You're an inspiration to me in so many ways. Thank you for this reminder to live authentic. I'm trying to be more "me" on social media. <3

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    1. I realize after I re-read this it may have sounded like I was calling you imperfect and that sounded rude. I wrote this before my morning coffee. <.> I'm sorry. What I meant to say was, I really enjoy each and every post of yours, because they are authentic and real, and no matter if you think that they are "imperfect." I know we're all imperfect and it's a breath of fresh air to see you embrace the real you and strive to be genuine. <3

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  2. Oh Rachel, I thank the Lord that He has given you this wisdom to share. Bravo - I think this is one of my favourite ever posts you have written.

    (And applause for your excellent taste in wine - sauvignon blanc is the best!)

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    1. I'm glad I have a hypothetical good taste in wine! I don't drink it myself so I wouldn't be sure, but I'm glad to know it is good!

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  3. AMEN & HALLELUJAH, as I sometimes say when I'm feeling particularly inspired. ;) As much as I am a believer in not bogging down other people's lives with my problems, I also think it's important to keep it real - anybody can be perfect if she cuts out enough ugly, but being messed up and not caring what people think of you? Being happy despite flaws and mistakes? That's golden in this media-driven world. <3

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    1. Exactly: wallowing is different than tasteful transparency.

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  4. Preach it, girl. :D This post made me happy.

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  5. This post was like a breath of fresh air. Thank you.

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  6. I really loved this :) It's so important to remember that we need to just be OURSELVES--"flaws" and all. Because, hey, they're part of what makes us unique!

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