Monday, January 27, 2014

Mona Lisa Selfies

I've been waiting for something that struck me as worthy of writing another blog post and tonight I found it.  My cousin Michelle linked to this on Facebook.

I had so many emotions as I watched it that I could barely finish it.

You see, I am 100% guilty of this.  I've known it for a long time but I wasn't brave enough to do anything about it.

I am a Selective Selfie Taker.  I am that girl that takes ten selfies at ten different angles until I find The One that I am happy with the world seeing.  The one that in no way portrays what I actually look like in real life on a daily basis.  I'm the girl that crops the picture in close to hide my double chin and wide face.  I'm the girl that doesn't smile with my teeth showing in pictures because it seems to double the size of my face.  Also, my open-mouthed smile is crooked, something I never noticed until recent years.  And I think it looks like I've recently had dental work and am waiting for the numbness to wear off.  And I hate it.  And that's really sad, because I smile with my teeth showing, all day long, every day.  Nothing held back, just a big ol' grin to whoever makes me smile.  I'm a very smiley person.  And I don't think about my face looking distorted then. 

  Non-Selective Selfie, 
no filter

Only when I see it staring back at me in a picture do I hurriedly delete it in disgust and try again, this time with my mouth closed, a la Mona Lisa, which changes me from happy-go-lucky Alicia to I'm-a-little-too-cool-for-all-this Alicia.  And I'm not too cool for anything.  Except having a lopsided smile, apparently.

  Mona Lisa Smile,

Mona Lisa Smile

Mona Lisa Smile,

Do you think anyone has ever looked at Mona Lisa and said, "Man, she looks like she was one happy chick."?  I'd wager not.  Based on these pictures, you'd think I was miserable, or at the very least, apathetic.  And I am neither.

Do you know how many pictures I've taken with family members with the intent of posting to Instagram and Facebook that never made it past my phone?

This one
(no makeup) 

This one
(no makeup)

And the most painful of all to reveal, this one.

I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be the girl that hides her true self and only shows the world what she wants them to see.  But in a world that demands perfection and defines beauty as something that is, for 90% of the human population, unattainable, it's dang hard to not be that girl.  And the worst part? The worse part is that I have a twelve year old daughter who already has to approve any picture I take of her before it can go on Instagram.  As painful as this is for me to see happening, how could I fault her for it when I do exactly the same thing?  I get it.  Believe me, I get it.

But have I taught her this somehow?  Did she learn this from me?  The thought never occurred to me until watching the video above.  Have I inadvertently taught her that she is anything but beautiful inside and out in every way, shape, and form?  Looking back, I probably have, and I can't bear the thought.

So I vow to no longer be a Selective Selfie Taker.  I vow to not be that girl anymore.  I vow to portray myself exactly as I am, fat-faced, crooked-smiled, no makeup, and....beautiful.  I will use less filters.  I will take one picture of myself and post that picture, no matter what it looks like.  I invite you to do the same.  I will teach my daughter that beauty doesn't come in a filter and a carefully posed shot.  That it comes in all her imperfections and distinct characteristics; her laughter, and her smile.  Especially her smile.  Because Mona Lisa ain't got nothing on her smile.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Why I Wear Dresses To Church

I've had this nagging urge to speak the things that consume my daily thoughts lately. I have so many, you see, and so often I feel like I might explode if I don't get them out. I've got a lot of thoughts and opinions and consequently, a lot to say. And then I remembered I have this thing called a blog. This tiny little corner of the internet that's just for me to say whatever the heck I want. So here goes. 

I've been thinking about pants. Why? Because people keep talking about them. Specifically women. Mormon women. Wearing them to church. They blog about it. They have strong opinions about it. They speak their mind about it. Well I have opinions about it too--strong ones--so I'm gonna speak my mind about it. 

I wear a dress to church, every week, for three hours. Sometimes I wear a skirt. I'm uncomfortable and insecure because said dresses and skirts don't hide the rolls like my jeans and sweaters do. They cut into my waist (or lack thereof) and require me to shave my legs so as not to emotionally scar those around me. I rotate through three dress/skirt ensembles, the only three that fit me, and I constantly pray no one will notice I'm wearing the same one. Again. And when I get home after those three hours I peel those suckers off faster than you can say "breathe again."

And yet, I love it. There are almost zero occasions in my life outside of church that call for dress clothes. At no other time am I compelled to shave my legs, wear dressy boots or heels, maybe throw on some extra makeup and jewelry, and even sometimes curl my hair. I feel special on Sunday. Fancy. Beautiful. Classy. Which puts me in a different frame of mind. That I am special, and I'm going somewhere special that deserves something more, something better than the jeans I wore the day before, or even the slacks I wore to work the day before that. 

Does God care what I wear to church? Probably not. Does He appreciate that I'm showing Him respect and reverence and acknowledging that I am in a sacred, holy place by wearing special attire separate from the worldly garb I don every day? I believe He does. Would He be appalled and disgusted if I walked into Sacrament Meeting next Sunday in pants? No. But I believe He would be disappointed. Not about my attire, but about the message I'd be sending Him: that His house was not worthy of the best I had to offer. Is it about clothes? No. Is it about showing respect? Absolutely. 

Guess what else it's not about. Feminism. Ugh, I hate that word. Do you want to know a secret? I belong to a church where the president is always a man and where men hold a power and authority that women cannot. And you know what? There is nothing on this earth that has ever made me feel more special, more revered, more empowered as a woman, than that church. 

Do I need to wear pants to church to prove to myself and the world that I'm just as good as a man? Heck no. The only One I have anything to prove something to is my Heavenly Father, and I want Him to see me in my very best. Because He deserves nothing less. 

And THAT'S why I wear a dress to church.