In Your Own Skin
Do ya’ll remember Glamour Shots? I don’t know, they might still be around, but in the 90s it was a thing.
This is me – Glamour Shots’d up – back when I was in college.
Looking at this picture makes me cringe for so many reasons – I think I still am washing hairspray out of my hair from that day, and I remember the makeup they loaded on me made my sensitive skin break out for weeks.
But mostly, I remember where I was at this point in my life.
People that have known me for some time know that I’m not into fussing over myself – I don’t do fancy clothes, I wear (only) eyeliner every day, and I prefer more casual outings. I don’t like fancy events because that doesn’t feel like who I am, so I usually attend sparingly.
It’s important to me to feel comfortable in my own skin.
Walking into the Glamour Shots studio made me immediately uncomfortable back then. It was full of fancy dresses, sequins, and lace – all things that I just don’t surround myself with in daily life. I went with my college roommate, who adored everything about all of it – and was almost giddy to have me as her doll for the day.
I remember her convincing me to do it. I needed some nice pictures, she said – in the days before smartphone cameras and small business photographers in every Facebook group.
It’ll be fun to get dressed up, she said. It will be great to see me finally expressing my feminine side and who I really am, she told me.
I remember this interaction because it felt so important to me to please her. At the time, I felt like I was somehow in the wrong for expressly not enjoying these “girly” things that are supposed to be within my nature. So this was my way of doing one of those things that I was supposed to do – and maybe it will awaken something in me and I can start being the “real” woman that I’m supposed to be.
This little photo session was so important to her trying to fit me into the box she had put me in within her mind, that I had made it feel like a turning point for me in seeking my own identity.
Don’t get me wrong here – trying new things can be fun. Opening yourself to new experiences IS part of discovering your identity.
But when those photos came back and I saw this person that I couldn’t recognize, and remembered how uncomfortable and fake it felt for me…
…it didn’t matter. My roommate was so excited. She cut the pictures to their sizes and gave them out to our friends when they came over and told everyone how much fun we had. She helped address the envelopes to send copies home to my family.
Starting around then, she also started leaving clothes on my bed that she wanted me to “borrow.” Low-cut, short dresses with loud patterns.
Look, here’s my point. There are women that love dressing up – they enjoy every step of the process of doing their makeup, hair, nails – all of it. There are other women that don’t love the process, but absolutely feel beautiful when they dress up.
And then there’s me – happy when I’m comfortable, in jeans and a tshirt, hoodie, or tanktop. On a daily basis, I try to look awake and clean, at best.
What I’ve discovered, that I didn’t know back then, is that the woman in me is awake regardless of what I am wearing or how much makeup I have on my face, because it’s a just another part of who I am and how I was made.
I’ve also discovered that regardless of who and what I am around, I feel better about myself when I stop trying to impress everyone else and stop trying to fit into their molds of who they think I should be.
We have lots of rules in our culture about what we are “supposed” to be and do.
We are supposed to graduate from high school, go to college, work for a corporation, and retire. We are supposed to have a family with 2.58 children that go to good schools. We are supposed to sit and do crafts with our toddlers, and feed them organic foods with no sugar. We are supposed to enjoy every piece of their childhood, and sacrifice all of our dreams so that they can have theirs.
These rules leave most of us feeling like in some way or another, we don’t add up. We don’t fit, we don’t belong.
But the truth is – feeling comfortable in your own skin means leaning into those places that make you uniquely you. It means that when you find the places where you don’t “fit,” instead of pretending like you do (or beating yourself up because you don't), you take the time to look at where the discomfort comes from and make a decision whether or not that person, place, or thing is really for you.
Where do you find that you don't quite "fit" in our society and culture? Have you learned to accept that piece of you, or is it something you beat yourself up for?
Need more support than what a blog post will give you? Are you ready to make some mindset changes and learn how to cultivate joy in your life? Want to learn more about how you can discover your identity and lean in to who you were made to be? Contact me here to learn more about my services.
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor serving South Carolina. She provides relationship and identity counseling online for busy moms and professionals. You can read more about her here.