When I first started blogging, the experience was a strange and incredible ego boost. I’m introverted, and never had a particularly big social circle, so when I opened myself to the public, it was thrilling to have complete strangers liking and leaving positive comments on my photos. But over all, blogging has really affected my self-image, for better and for worse.
So First, the Positives…
It’s really addictive to have strangers compliment you. It’s that dopamine hit–that rush and sense of approval that comes when people like our photos.
But there’s also something more to it than that.
The positive feedback helped me see the beauty in my natural hair, and to walk with my head held a little higher.
When I first went natural, there weren’t many people in my city rocking their curls. In the work place, and on the streets, I was getting a lot of attention for being different. And compared to now, a lot more people asked to touch my hair back then .
So it was definitely validating to have other women with curly hair lifting me up, and affirming my choice to wear twist-outs and braid-outs. Especially when in day to day life, I was much more of an attraction.
I also wanted to add that many of those early social media engagers became some of my most consistent cheerleaders. And many, I now call friends.
So you may be over there thinking “wow, people tell you you’re pretty, and lift you up–get over yourself.”
But. it’s been discussed over and over again online:
Social Media can be Toxic
Most of us know that comparing ourselves to others on social media can be detrimental to our mental health. And we also know it’s something we just shouldn’t do.
We know the photos we are seeing are snapshots of what the poster wants us to see. We know their life isn’t sunshine and rainbows, glowing skin and perfect hair 24/7.
But still, it’s hard to turn off the part of our brain that keeps holding up our images next to theirs.
So of course, I battle with that. And I compare not just my looks, but the quality of the content I’m producing. (Which some might say is productive, but it can also be maddening.)
Over the years, I’ve become more and more critical of myself, and what I post online.
In fact, I look back at some posts from the start of my blog, and between my hair, my makeup, and the quality of the pictures, I think: “Kaya, what were you THINKING?”
Yes, this sounds incredibly superficial, but come on. We’ve witnessed (and some of you have participated in) the dragging of a complete stranger online.
People come at each other for their eyebrows, how they did their make up, their un-laid edges, anything! And my skin isn’t thick enough for that.
In the end, I think I criticize myself pre-emptively. I have a very real fear of becoming a viral meme or topic on Black Twitter.
Now when I take pictures, I notice things that never used to bother me. How gummy my smile is, if my upper lip looks hairy, if my nose looks exceptionally big from that angle, etc.
What’s interesting though, is when I look at other people’s pictures, I don’t think about these things. Usually I just think: damn they’re beautiful.
And I think this especially when their picture is authentic, (i.e. no make-up, messy hair, etc.).
And in my day to day life, I don’t give a damn.
The weird thing is that in my personal life, I really don’t care how I look.
I never wear makeup to work, and I rarely shave/take part in hair removal, unless for a photoshoot (but body hair is becoming more normalized, and I’m here for it.)
But if in a photo you can see a shadow on my upper lip, or if the bags under my eyes and my acne scars are really popping, you probably won’t ever see it. Or if you do, know that I had to really talk myself up before sharing it.
And full-disclosure: I do touch up most of my photos before posting.
Actually… while I was drafting this post, I had a little bit of a breakdown regarding my skin.
I’ve been dealing with acne for the past two years, and although it isn’t super severe, it leaves behind scars that are driving me crazy.
Mid-break down, my husband asked me what’s been going on, pointing out that I never used to be so self-conscious about my looks.
And now I realize the answer:
Yes, my skin problems are maddening, but I get more sensitive about them the more actively I blog and post on social media.
So in conclusion…
I find social media and blogging has helped me keep my head a bit higher, helped validate that my kinky hair is beautiful, and allowed me to connect with others. But of course, there is a lot of toxicity I need to work through.
While it would be amazing to be that confident, “no F***’s given” baddie that many of us aspire to be, I know that’s not who I am. I’m too anxious for that.
But I’m taking baby steps in that direction. Slowly, I’m pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and to share the most vulnerable, messy, authentic me!
So what’s your relationship with blogging and/or social media? Is it good or bad for your self esteem?
And finally, if this resonated with you, it’d mean the world to me if you shared it!
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