Disclosure: This post is not sponsored. I will not receive any compensation for writing/publishing this post. I am writing it of my own free will. All ideas and opinions are my own.
I’ve had a lot to say lately on the societal front. And I mean, a LOT. It’s no secret that I’ve always had my major gripes with society, and who can blame me? As a young, naïve, kindergarten kid, it was society that informed me that I was different, and not in a way that would be deemed “acceptable.”
It was children in our society that bullied, taunted, and tormented me, and it was parents of those children in our society that stood by idly, shrugging their shoulders, and letting it happen, while my parents made desperate phone call after phone call to plead on my behalf that they talk to their cruel kids.
But maybe– just maybe, this wasn’t entirely their fault. Because other parents maybe stood idly by while this happened to them as they were growing up. They learned that some kids are just “born different,” and it’s okay to stand by while they get helplessly picked on because of something in their physical appearance.
I’ve made some incredible friends in the past four years of being a blogger and online activist. Last night, while flipping channels absentmindedly, I grew bored and decided to join the #NaturalDay Twitter party, hosted by my awesome friend, Nadia Jones, of Justice Jonesie and the Niche Parent Network.
Sanah was diagnosed as a little girl with a rare disorder that caused her to lose her hair gradually. By the time she was in middle school, which is such a critical time in the human development process, she had lost it all.
The target of teasing and bullying, she decided to take a bold step– she took to YouTube and filmed a short video of her removing her wig.
It went viral. She received many supportive and encouraging messages, and she had found her calling.
Sanah launched a project called “Natural Day” for today, February 13th. The purpose is to get everyone to go without makeup, wigs, or embellishments for one day. The request is simple, but it sends a strong resounding message about who we’ve become as a society.
We are all smoke and mirrors. On instagram, we are all about filters.
It’s sad to realize that, in an age so obsessed with “the selfie,” most of these self-portraits are actually staged– with lots of makeup, perfect lighting, and carefully-coiffed hair. Rarely is there any actual spontaneity in these images. And, as a result, rarely is there ever any truth.
Watching Sanah’s brutally honest video, I can’t help but wonder what my friend Carly Findlay, an Australian blogger and badass appearance activist, would have to say about this topic. She has spent her entire life living with a condition that she can’t hide from.
In a way that might not be obvious to most, I’ve done something very similar with my body– I’ve tried to hide it. I’m reflecting on a post I wrote in 2011, Standing on My Own Two Feet, which I found excruciatingly difficult to write.
I remember sitting at my laptop, eyes wide and wary, hands cold and clammy, as I hit “publish.” I remember refreshing my Facebook page what seemed like a million times as supportive comments pouring in.
I remember my eyes welling up with tears as I realized that people love me and accept me for who I am.
I remember feeling vindicated.
So, for Sanah and so many others, here’s my own selfie. No makeup, hair slightly “done” but nonetheless in disarray. No smoke or mirrors– just me.
Who knows? If Sanah can do this– reveal her true self, little by little, maybe I can, too.
I never go out without makeup on my face, so for me, let’s just say this is a good first step in the right direction.
Be sure to post your own selfies and videos without makeup and with natural hair today, using the hashtag #NaturalDay! And follow my girl Sanah on Twitter @SanahJivani.
We may be a society that is saturated with images of New York Fashion Week models that are rail-thin and wear excessive makeup and high heels, but we’re all human and we can grow. (To that end, did you see this awesome article in HuffPo about the first woman with a ‘physical disability’ to strut the NYFW runway? Check it out!)
Yes, these are all baby steps, and it’ll take a heck of a lot more than just a selfie or two to change long-held standards of “beauty.” But that’s what’s so fabulous about the internet.
It only has to start with one.
For more of my thoughts on beauty and self-worth, please read “The Woman in the Mirror,” my post on the BlogHer ’12 Fashion Show, which I participated in as a model, as well as “Standing on my Own Two Feet,” which was chosen for BlogHer’s Voices of the Year in 2012.