Last week a reader sent me the link to this story. He suggested I read it and potentially share it with my readers.
I encourage everyone to take the five minutes to read through the story in its entirety. As a warning, it’s absolutely tragic. Madison Holleran was an all-star track student at the University of Pennsylvania. From the outside– shown through her Instagram feed–she had it all. She was beautiful, intelligent, had tons of friends, a supportive family and a budding track career. The photos she shared on social media embodied the idyllic image one would imagine of an all-American collegiate female.
But Maddy didn’t see it that way. On January 17, she leapt off the ninth story of a parking garage, plummeting to the pavement below. She was only 19 years old.
This story really resonated with me after reading it last week, and I continued to think about it over the weekend. As someone neck-deep in social media, I’m acutely aware of the image I choose to convey to the world. We all know those people: the ones who barrage your Facebook feed with negative status updates and constant complaints or whining. And surely, no one likes it. But has our obsession with avoiding unpleasantness gone too far? In our effort to convey our best selves, have we made it unacceptable to show people you’re not okay? That you aren’t perfect?
I can’t begin to comprehend the internal sadness Maddy must have felt, but I do recognize the desire to always present my most perfect self. When Will and I cull through photos for my blog, I am constantly faced with the least-flattering images of me you’ve ever seen. Cellulite. Blemishes. Creepy faces. Sometimes they’re funny; others time, they’re depressing. And while I would love to rely on the notion that everyone takes a bad photo, I think I prefer Mr. Abraham Lincoln’s take on it: “There are no bad pictures; that’s just how your face looks sometimes.”
And that’s okay.
In honor of Madison, I’ve decided to commit to regularly showing photos of me that I just plain dislike. To be sure, the “truth” I’m hiding from the internet is nowhere near as serious as what Maddie kept inside; it’s just what I have. It’s my truth. Outtakes were tough to come by this go ’round: after I tell Will I hate a photo, he usually just deletes it, so I didn’t have much to choose from. However, he knows the plan now. Anytime I tell him it’s unflattering or a terrible picture, he tags it with “Heather_Outtake” so I can use it later.
After all, we’ve all got our quirks, and it’s okay to not be perfect.
Usually I look like I know how to ski. For some reason, on this day, I couldn’t get beyond a snow plow.
Guys, it’s the truth: I frequently have RBF: Resting Bitch Face. Not to mention, I hate that scar on my cheek from a wicked acne bout in my 20s.
I think this one is pretty obvious…
I typically cinch my waist strap so tight that it causes all of my skin and stomach fat to bulge over the waist belt. If I know I’m using the photo for something, I can temporarily alter it…but you better believe this stomach bulge is standard issue!
My least favorite of the group. A) Seriously, what was I thinking when I gave myself bangs?! B) This was during a period of time when I went through the worst adult acne of my life. Sure, I could hide some of it with makeup but not entirely. Obviously.
ESPN is encouraging everyone to share their #LifeUnfiltered on social media. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, take a moment to show people that it’s okay to not be okay!