Monday, March 25, 2013

Reflections on Self-Portraits

The Self-Portrait edition of Photo Art Friday has left me speechless ... well, almost.  I'm really hoping I can find the words to tell you how touched I was by the number of you that shared some form of Self-Portrait. 

Your response to the challenge was amazing and many of your posts revealed that it was a challenge that you initially wanted to resist or reject. 

Isn't it interesting how so many of us feel a certain level of shame about how we look ... and that's a shame.  It's really sad how western culture has made us so self-conscious about our appearance, so sure that we don't measure up to contrived, artificial, unattainable standards of beauty.  So sad how we have been manipulated into believing we are never good enough ... and therefore are in need of their products to help us measure up.   Grrrrr .... these profit-driven norms and lies infuriate me.

Well, our self-portrait gallery was a powerful statement in response to those culturally-imposed, artificial norms!  We are beautiful just as we are.  Powerfully and gloriously beautiful with the light or twinkle in our eyes, the sweetness or humor in our smiles, and the wisdom etched in the lines on our faces.

It seems that this challenge morphed into an interesting personal exercise in self-acceptance and self-exposure and I want you to know that my heart just swelled with affection and pride for each of us who found our particular way to say, "Here I am ... this is me."  I hope one day we will all feel as comfortable with ourselves as our furry and feathered friends are with themselves!

One of you mentioned in a comment that while you resisted this challenge at first, after doing it you would be willing to do it again.  I've taken note, and will perhaps do a Self-Portrait 2 challenge sometime soon.

I was listening to a YouTube video by a spiritual guru (Gangaji) the other day, and was struck by a statement she made.  She said that "there is no fear without a story behind it".  Now that statement could be disputed, but it does have value when we apply it to the resistance, dismay, shyness (all fear-based feelings) we experience about our physical appearance.

If you experienced some level of fear or trepidation about sharing an image of yourself, you might want to ask yourself "what is the story I tell myself about how I look?".   What is the story behind the fear, for you? 

Once you identify the 'story' you tell yourself about your appearance, I encourage you to challenge it.  Ask yourself if the story is REALLY true.  Ask yourself how your life would be different if you deleted the 'not good enough' story from the files in your mind.  Ask yourself how long you are going to continue believe and be 'crippled' by that story and the feelings it creates.

Rudyard Kipling said something to the effect of - "Of all the liars in the world, our fears are the worst".  Let's refuse to believe the fear/lie that we are not good enough  -  that we will be judged as unworthy because of how we look.  Surely it's time to let go of that fear, especially since it is most likely based on a story we absorbed from a culture obsessed with artificial standards of beauty and with youth.  

The level of support and delight we received in the comment sections of our posts is evidence that our fears about our appearance are lies.  We all need to try to absorb that information and not dismiss it.

So, again, thank you for your courageous, generous participation in last week's PAF challenge!!!


THIS week's challenge (March 29, 30) is
It can be graffiti you have photographed and then digitally edited, or it can be an image that you create in which you apply graffiti-like text to the image.  Google "images of graffiti" if you want to see some examples.

Here's a chance to communicate something you have been wanting to shout to the world!  What would you write on a wall for all to see ... if you could?

Graffiti has become a recognized art form - especially in urban areas.  In Montreal, graffiti artists are commissioned by the city to put their art on the sides of buildings in certain areas.  Some graffiti artists have become performance artists and after applying for city permits can apply their talents to streets and buildings - sometimes the art is temporary, sometimes permanent.

So ... if you had a permit ... show us with a digital image what art and text you would want to share with the world.  Go for it!  Make a statement!


  1. Very nice! I like your post processing :-)

    Greetings from the Netherlands,

  2. Oh Bonnie, you are always full of surprises and this lovely dissertation is among them. That you care so deeply fits with all of your gifts and talents and to be able to share it this way ... you are indeed a beautiful person.

    Like most I have spent much of my life feeling like I didn't live up to what people would want in many ways and my appearance was among them. I have found, however, as I get older (and look older)I am no longer afraid of it. I am past the point of needing to impress anyone (but perhaps myself). I still hold too high standards with my artistic efforts. That comes from living years with two very accomplished artists. But, I am committed to keeping it fun. Do what I can and enjoy it ... coming to PAF makes that possible in more ways that you can ever imagine. You have put a kink in the armor that all of us have hidden behind ... aren't you just awesome? I think so as do many other ... Thank you!!!

    Andrea @ From The Sol

  3. Andrea: Thank you so much, tho' your effusive praise makes me somewhat uncomfortable, as I am far from awesome ... believe me. Just wanted to share some thoughts and insights I had about the self-portrait process - as there was so much more going on than just editing and sharing images of ourselves.

    Ah yes, I so agree that one of the big gifts of the ageing process is that we become more comfortable in our skin, less influenced by peer pressure, and we've had the time to move past the fragility of ego. It's real freedom to shed the need to impress, as you say.

  4. Thank you -- Thank you for the texture.. and I have to tell you I am not to sure about Graffiti but as other challenges -- I will try - I will do it and learn -- see ya Friday..

  5. Thank you for your words
    Wisdom to carry :)
    All my best whishes for you.

  6. Bonnie, I so agree with your post! It was so wonderful to see so many of PAF's participants.
    I do not that fear and the only way to overcome it is to face it and just force ourselves to get on the other side of the camera more, and more often, and simply accept the person on the picture for what she/he is!

  7. You are wise - and encouraging. Thank you!

  8. Thank you, Bonnie for sharing your texture.
    LG joelsuma


All comments are eagerly read and greatly appreciated.

While I do appreciate the honor, I do not accept awards or participate in assigned memes. Thanks for understanding. :)