I posted a new headshot on my Facebook wall today. It is a professional shot taken in a studio with a lot of lighting and a high-end camera by a highly skilled professional photographer including some strategic Photoshop after the fact. After I posted the photo, amid a sea of praise and applause came a private question from someone asking how I can write a book about being human and self-acceptance and post such a fake photo of myself.
Hmmm… Good question. Let’s explore this.
What is authenticity really? Am I still authentic if I wear make-up in public? What about a bra? Am I fake if I have my eyebrows waxed? If I shave my legs? Do I do these things because I am ashamed of the way I look? Or am I selling-out and following the crowd and not being true to my self?
I have a very strong belief in the power of intention. We are social beings and I devote a couple of chapters to culture and community in my book Being Human. We are part of a tribe and our tribe has certain habits and rituals. I certainly don’t feel that shaving my legs would be an offense to anyone in my tribe, and I do not shave my legs with the intention to hurt others or knock them down a few pegs. It is a socially acceptable behavior in my culture. The content of my character, my integrity, my ability to be truthful and sincere with co-workers and friends is not questioned by the fact that I shave hair off my legs.
So where do we draw the line?
Is the line wearing artificial nails? I know many sincere and well-meaning women who do a lot of good in the world and get their nails done. Is the line wearing hair extensions or fake eyelashes? Gastric bypass or Botox? Or maybe, just maybe, the line is that we don’t need to judge when other people have crossed the line. Maybe, instead, we need to concentrate on where we choose to draw our own lines for ourselves. I believe that authenticity and integrity is when we live happily within the boundaries that we feel represent who we truly are, and for many of us who feel beautiful on the inside it is completely congruent to beautify our outside too.
Women really need to stop judging other women. REALLY. I can say with certainty that whatever others are saying about another woman in judgement is nothing compared to the negative self-criticism she is doling out to herself. We need to celebrate each other and uphold each other. We need to stop defining what is right and wrong with everyone else and hold ourselves into account, connect to our deepest truths, and live our lives from there.
In all honesty, if I had put up a headshot of me with my hair up wearing my glasses and in my pajamas (which is how I spend my writing days) many women would have complained about my lack of professionalism. I like to think that a headshot is our first date, and I want to look nice on our first date. I am unapologetically well put together on this picture and I am very happy with how my inner sparkle shines through. Now you get out there and show off your beauty and do not apologize for it either. Yes, you can be authentic while embracing the beauty rituals of our society as long as you are consciously choosing what is right for you.