Several months ago, I was asked to take pictures of a small group of women. Most of the day was spent doing what I love to do - tell their story through my pictures. At the end of the day, they asked me to take a series of individual portrait shots to be used for their marketing bios. The result was an eye-opening experience for me and one that I haven't stopped thinking about. So, I feel the need to share with you.
I set up my strategic location outdoors, away from the group of ladies inside, and asked them to make their way to me one at a time. Most of the women I had met previously (at least in passing). One thing you must know is that this group of women are beautiful in EVERY way. Each of them gorgeous. Definitely on the inside, but to me, on the outside too! I spent a minute explaining that I would have to get very close to them because of the lens I had with me for the day and that I knew it would be a little uncomfortable, as most people aren't used to that. But I promised to do my best to capture them and what came next was unbelievable. Or perhaps...too believable.
EVERY SINGLE LADY had negative self talk. Out loud. Talking themselves into taking the photo. Trouble smiling. Awkward laughs. Sucking in stomachs. Asking if their double chin was showing. Trying to make their arms not look fat. Checking if mascara was running or if make-up was on point. Double checking smiles. Could I tell it was fake? Normal beautiful hair instantly became too frizzy or needing roots done or losing volume. Sweaty palms. Nervous. Sick. Hearts pounding. Scared. Tears.
And I begin to think...OMG...this is ME! This is exactly what I do! My perspective of the woman I saw in front of me was so different from how that woman saw herself. But in that moment, who I saw was the only one that mattered. I wanted to (and tried to) offer comfort to each woman. But at most, I was met with strong resistance and I couldn't blame them. I would've (and have) done the same thing.
I left that day thinking about the experience and afterward delivered their photos. Guess what? I don't think one person liked their individual portrait. Okay, maybe one. But this really got me thinking. And so, I began the project to #lovemyselfmoretodaythanyesterday. I have forced myself to take and share a selfie on most days (at present more than 200 days into the project) and it has been quite the journey.
I believe selfies are usually for people who enjoy looking at themselves or who are begging for others to comment on how they look or who need to show off. Well, none of these are true for me. In fact, my truth is that I prefer to hide. Over the past 200 days, I've searched for that woman everyone else sees. I try to find her and love her and accept her for exactly who she is each day. I can honestly say that there are photos I've taken that I wonder "Who is that" because I didn't know I looked like that.
I didn't know my smile was so big.
I didn't know that my eyes sometimes twinkle.
I didn't know that my curls catch the light.
I didn't know that my freckles are so cute.
I didn't know that sometimes I look so tired.
I didn't know that I'm addicted to gum and that I can see it when I smile big.
So, what do I want you to learn from all of this? I want you to love yourself. Each day I want you to look at yourself with the love God has for you and I want you to see yourself through His eyes. Look through the eyes of our Divine Maker. You are Perfect. You are His Masterpiece. On your worst day you are nothing short of Enough. You are Beautiful. You are His Creation. Every detail of you has been planned for by Design. You are made in His image. You are Love. You are YOU.
Please join me and this movement to #loveyourselfmoretodaythanyesterday. I can tell you that it has changed my life. I am no longer hiding from mirrors. I am no longer running past windows to avoid my reflection. I am no longer just the girl behind the camera. I am finding Me, and I am His Masterpiece. You can find me and follow my journey on Facebook and if you want to see my other photography work, or if you're interested in me taking your pictures, check me out at www.mindyleephotography.com.
Mindy is a thirty-something, self diagnosed overachiever. She loves plans, checklists and routines. She has three young kids…so life is always changing and throwing her for a loop. She has been married for more than 12 years and continues to be amazed by their growing love. She has a passion for telling stories and inspiring others with her photography, and the ability to capture special moments.