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) isIt 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!