August 10, 2011

Image

I bring up the topic of image and happiness today after recently receiving a message from one of my readers who asked for my help.

My reader Kelly (name has been changed) is battling depression and is entering an eating disorder program.  I won't share the reasons that Kelly feels contributed to her depression, but I will say that they are the type of issues that many women struggle with.  What makes me share this with you all here today is because Kelly said that she reached out to me because my life looks so perfect and I always seem upbeat and happy. 

So today I want to keep it real with all of you who visit my blog regularly and who I let into my "life".  I use quotations around life because this little blog isn't a true representation of what my life is like.  I suspect many of you realize this.  But let's be honest, it can still be easy to compare situations with someone else (celebrity? blogger? friend on facebook?...).  "She has the best clothes."  "Her home is so beautiful."  "She's like Martha Stewart."  I think we've all been guilty of this at some time or another. 

The truth is, I get to share what I want to share here on this blog.  Yes, I could tell you about some of the shitastic stuff that happens.  But is that why you come here?  Probably not.  And it's certainly not why I write.  Now, in all honesty and fairness, yes, I am extremely happy.  Sometimes I even feel like I'm the luckiest girl in the world.  But not in a way that is unlike many other people.  I love my family, my friends.  I love staying home with Lilly.  I have a lot of things in my life to feel lucky about, so I don't want this post to be misinterpreted.  But I also change a lot of diapers during the day, and there is always a lot of laundry to do, and my husband leaves his shoes laying around the house (sorry to call you out Josh) and, well, you get the idea.  And I, too, have my moments when I wish I could change something about myself.

Remember my Glitter Guide "Shop The Street" photoshoot?  What if I told you that I asked my photographer to edit the photos so that my arms would look skinnier.  Are you shocked?  Maybe, maybe not.  But if you go look and compare the first two images in the feature you'll see what I'm talking about.  At the time it seemed harmless and fun. I was feeling pudgy and pregnant and yadayadayada.  But what makes me absolutely sick is to think that someone, anyone, might be looking at those photos thinking, "why don't I look like that?"  Hell, I don't even look like that ;)  And to be honest, I don't even care that I don't.  I've never bought into the idea that you have to be a perfect tiny size to be happy.  So I'm a little disapointed in myself that I felt the need to portray a skinnier version of myself.  I hope ya'll aren't too let down.  I never really considered that by doing that I was feeding into a social standard that I despise.  And let me also be very clear about one thing, neither Glitter Guide or my photographer Gray ever gave me any reason to think that the photos needed edited.

So back to Kelly's question.  What is the key to happiness?  Beats me.  I just try to surround myself with people who bring me up.  You know, the type of friends that actually want to see you succeed.  And encourage you.  I make a lot of time for myself too.  I'm as much a selfish person as I am a loving person to those close to me.  Because I love myself too.  And I've never settled.  Life is too short to be living unhappily and longing to step in someone else's shoes.

 
So I've opened up.  Now I want to know what you think the key to happiness is.  And what's your opinion on "image" and all that it entails? 

44 comments:

Bud and Leo said...

Thank you for this post. There was a recent study on facebook and how it made people depressed because, exactly as you said, people portray themselves as having perfect lives-- so when other people look at facebook it makes them think about how un-perfect their lives are. People in that position need to remember that on fb and blogs, we are writing and sharing happy, wonderful things! :) But that no ones life is perfect. I agree with you that the key to being happy is surrounding yourself with those you love (and that love YOU) and taking time for yourself. All the best to your reader that wrote in! Thanks again for this incredible post!

modern jane said...

I absolutely loved this post. Thanks you for this! <3

caycee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
caycee said...

Chassity I Love this post! Everything you said is so true, and I love how honest you were! I am not going to lie, I to have those days where I think her life is perfect, wish I had her home, and shoes ect.... Even yours sometimes ;)I agree that life is so short, and we only get one shot to live it right! So when I am feeling down I always tell myself look how good you have it girl, you better start smiling! Funny thing is it usually works too :)

PS I think it's def. who we surround ourselves with too, and I feel so blessed to have such positive, beautiful women in my life!

PPS Cant wait for our lunch date today!!!

lizziefitz said...

You really are a gem. Thanks for keeping it real ! Your beauty truly shines from the inside out ,even on the blog;)

Things That Sparkle said...

I loved this post. Thank you for putting yourself out there for your readers. I think blogging is a little scary. We have this place where we can portray ourselves however we choose and people feel like they know us. But what they is a tiny little sliver of what we choose to share, and usually its the pretty stuff. But... its also an place where I've "met" amazing people (like you!) and have been exposed to beautiful creativity. It definitely has its ups and downs. And as for happiness, I am with you 100%. You take time for yourself, and when you dont, its with people who are behind you and love you as much as you love them.

Tammy@InStitches said...

Thanks for keeping it real. I love your upbeat, pretty blog !

Kendra said...

Thanks for being so honest. It's hard to live in a culture that feeds the idea that "image is everything". I absolutely love your blog, but I respect you so much for this post.

Amanda Hill said...

WOW this is a great article! It really did make me stop and think about what I portray to people. Life really is hard for all of us sometimes. I really love the quote that says" If we all threw our problems into a big pile...we would take our own back" I think thats very true! Thanks for sharing doll I love ya!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post! Thanks for saying out loud what we all think and feel sometimes. I appreciate your honesty :)

Ms. Bright said...

Great post, Chassity! My post for today was along the same lines...I'm constantly reminding myself that there will always be someone prettier, smarter, richer, happier, etc. But there's always the opposite of those things, too!

xoxo

Lara {simply irresistible blog} said...

I loved this post and your points are all so very true. We don't blog about the fights we have with our loved ones or a day where everything was going wrong or about days where we are stressing about work or money. We write about happy things and material things and sometimes it's misleading. I think the key to happiness is (as hard as it may seem) not to compare. The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side. Just being the best YOU is all you can do.

Ashley said...

Great post! I think everyone deals with this, but most people won't say they do. I always think I need the perfect clothes or a better job, etc.; but I have come to realize that those things won't bring me happiness. I need to love myself for who I am- that is where I will find my happiness:)

Megan said...

this was a very brave and beautiful post; thanks for sharing. while, I don't dare say I have the secret to happiness, I will share that focusing on the positive and creating an attitude of gratitude has helped me on the days where things feel far less than perfect. I also say bravo to women being real with each other, especially here in the blog world where everything can seem "perfect".

Drew {Coral Cafe} said...

I think you've pretty much summed it all up!! All of us women want to lose some extra pounds here and there, wear amazing outfits and selfishly want what we can't always have. But in the end, we know what truly makes us happy. Family and friends. A support group. People that will love us and confide in us no matter what we look like. We get sucked into the superficial sometimes, but it's hard sometimes not to. That's why I think its important to take some days off and do activities that are void of magazines, the internet and even blogs. But I think you do a wonderful job with your postings. We do love to hear the excitement of others' lives. But it is refreshing to know that we all have the same issues. Blogs to me are about inspiration, a time to get away from the hectic life and just dream for a while. And you're blog is always one to turn to for just that! ;)

Courtney {a thoughtful place} said...

I agree . . beautiful and brave post. Not always easy to write with such abandon. No chance I know some hidden secret, but I agree that life is way too short to surround yourself with anyone who doesn't build you up. And maybe realizing it's more about the little moments than the big ones. And Janell has mentioned something the other day about how when we compare ourselves, it sucks all the happiness and energy out of who we are. SO true.

Emily said...

First, my prayer is that your reader will see the beauty inside herself and find healing. Second, one of my favorite sayings is "Happiness is a journey, not a destination," meaning that we are always looking for happiness around the next bend (ie- when I'm thinner, have more money, etc.) but it's right there waiting for us here and now. It's up to us to find our happiness in the every day. I, too, consider myself very lucky, but I also know that, once I started embracing my life for the good AND bad, is when I started finding the most happiness. Thanks for this post Chassity. Maybe now I won't be so jealous of your kitchen! ;)

17 Perth said...

Thank you for your honesty and for putting all of this "out there" for people to read--I think this is something that maybe a lot of women struggle with especially in blog and fb worlds....it was extremely brave of your reader to speak up about what she is going through and even better for you to embrace and expound on it.

For me, happiness is truly living the life you want---not what people expect of you or for you....and relying on God for that path. Prayer is a powerful tool and God loves us fully....despite our flaws.

I was a teacher for 8 years and to be perfectly honest, was not happy. It was a "great" job and I was seen as "patient and admiral" because of the population of kids I chose to teach. I did enjoy the relationships I made teaching, but never fully embraced the career. So....I quit and now work for my husband at the restaurant where he GMs....and I have to say..I love working with/for him, i love the flexibility and more relaxed pace of my life.

Chassity, I have to agree with you too...I surround myself with people who support me and lift me up.
Thank you for your honesty on the issue!

Kim Aull said...

This was a great post Chass. Everyone has problems and usually the ones who don't own up to them seem to be the ones who struggle deep down the most. Blogs, Facebook, etc. is usually just a dent in ones life, and nobody knows your full story unless you are in their shoes. They say misery loves company for a reason and maybe it's not so much that you hope bad for others as much as it's a comfort so to speak feeling of everyone has problems and you aren't alone. I hope your reader finds happiness soon. To me happiness is making decisions in your life that is right for you and the people you care about. What makes me most happy at times is thinking of others first and being a good person. I guess it goes with treat others as you want to be treated. We all love the material things, vacations, etc. but family, health, friends, being a good person...that is what is important in life, will lead you to success, and makes a person more attractive! in my opinion I should add :) again...great post!

Marianne {Style For Living} said...

This is such a great post, Chassity. I think we all have things about ourselves that we'd like to change, but if we were all the same, life would be boring. I come from the same philosophy is you... never settle, surround yourself with people who support and inspire you and do what makes you happy! Life is too short to not find some joy in the everyday. Have I told you how much I adore you?! xo

marysia reeves said...

skinny arms are the KEY! haha..j/k but really taking care of yourself mentally and phisically help:) I find Yoga very helpful in both and whenever I do it I feel great! Looking on the bright side of everything is good too.
Don't sweat the arms thing...you are prego and I know how you feel...looking your best helps one feel good too especially when you have thousand of people looking at you...most important is you know who you are! xoxo-love you suga bug!

marysia reeves said...

and to Kelly...seeking help is a great thing to do! Go Girl! now go take care of yourself inside and out and remember ...u are beautiful!

Euphoria said...

This is my first visit and this is the first post I read. Quite unexpected, I must say, but I liked it a lot. I agree with you, and I guess blogging is a way to live a different reality, that's why we are all here, showing a different part of ourselves and reading new perspectives about a lots of stuff.

victoria | vmac+cheese said...

Great post! The 'image' thing with blogging is a weird one. I think it's so important to be genuine, and I think most bloggers are, but you're right, it can definitely lead to the impression that others' lives are completely charmed, with no problems or heartache or stress. So not true! As for the key to happiness, I completely agree with you. I recently realized that I had some people in my life that just made me feel so good (happy!) when I was with them, and for others, it was... a lot more work. Why do that to yourself? I also think for women, we put so much emphasis on having the perfect everything -- relationship, family, house, career, wardrobe. Chasing after all those things is great, but none of it will mean anything if you're not first happy with and accepting of yourself. YOU is always the best place to start to find real bliss.

Erica said...

Beautiful post Chassity. Isn't image the funniest thing, literal and yet so deceiving? Of course we only share the good stuff on our blogs, but life isn't always glossy and shiny.
My own life has been rife with loss but the place that I call my online home is where I share the happy parts of my heart. I am only perfect because of the many flaws I possess and I share this because I am no stranger to doubt, self criticism and taking for granted that it is a gift to wake up everyday.
Because of this I try to always remember that there isn't a single person out there who has a truly 'charmed' life. We all have our seasons, our heart break and personal disappointment, but without them could we ever be truly happy? Without the contrast and comparison?
It's hard to keep this in mind sometimes, living in a world that is predominantly about the cover.
It's admirable that you would share in this way Chassity, and it serves as a reminder that we're all fragile and vulnerable. You're as beautiful on the outside as you are on the inside. Even the arms that you thought weren't at their best; truth be told, I never noticed them... only your lovely eyes and that infectious smile.
Kelly, you too are beautiful. I have learned that only the strong ask for help... even though we're usually at our lowest and never feel very strong when we're asking. It takes courage to ask for the directions to a better way. If you're asking you've already taken the first steps. xo

Emily L. said...

This post is so thoughtful and beautiful Chassity. I've recently come to realize that happiness is a conscious decision and, like most things worth having in life, it sometimes takes work. Everyone experiences something that gets them down and you really have to choose to overcome it. People are constantly changing and evolving and I think that requires continual and mindful reassessment of your priorities, goals, and the things you need to balance your life and make you happy. Not that I have all the answers! Thanks for sharing this post.

Caroline @ Between Your Ears said...

Beautifully spoken! I totally agree with you -- it's easy to look at someone else's life and think it perfect, especially on those days when you look at your own and wish it were different in some way. It's important for each of us to remember that there is a time and place to work hard for perfection, and there is also a time and place to let it go and just appreciate your imperfect situation. Thank you for reminding me of this life lesson!

As far as being happy, my favorite quotation is 'happiness if between your ears.' I try to live my life by this little rule every day and remember to have a good attitude in everything that I do. I even named my blog Between Your Ears because of this little quotation!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! I think we are all occasionally guilty of wanting what someone else has. I think the key to happiness is to count your blessings, follow your bliss and create the life you want.

Morgan said...

Wow... reading your post was amazing but reading the readers reaction was even better. Love the honesty Chassity... keep it up! Oh, and no more photo editing. You're beautiful and it's completely not needed! :)

Ingrid said...

What a beautiful and honest post! We all need to hear all of this. It is so easy to think "they" have it so much better. I know I am guilty of it. I wish we could go on that trip right now, I wish I could move into a bigger house, and I wish I could have her wardrobe! I need to remember I am very blessed with what I have. I have two beautiful daughters, a great husband, a nice house and friends. We need to surround ourselves with people who support this and who we are rather than bringing us down.

Anne said...

What a wonderful post. It is hard to separate reality from what is sometimes portrayed through blogs, FB post, etc. I often think that people who feel the need to talk about their "perfect" lives, kids, etc are sometimes trying too hard to convince themselves and everyone else. Thanks for your honesty. I also really enjoyed reading all the responses.

Simply LKJ said...

Well stated Chassity! Prayers going up for our fellow reader. I think we all feel inadequate at times. When we truly learn to embrace the things God has given us, knowing it is part of His plan, all the outside influences will not appear as important. Raising two girls of my own, now 17 and 21 has been a real eye opener regarding self image, my own included. I did not want my sense of inadequacy to rub off on them. Rather I have learned to embrace who I am. Sure, there are still things I would like to change, but I am the one in control.

Aubrey {All Things Bright and Beautiful} said...

I had someone bring up this issue to me when I first started blogging, people putting out the "perfected version" of everything on blogs/fb. She said as soon as she realized she was "staging" her own life so it looked good on her blog, she shut it down and never did it again. Now, I don't think the blogging world is *that* bad, because there is SO much good that comes from it as well and meeting so many amazing and supportive people. I have realized that I need to take it with a grain of salt...and no matter how perfect someone's life looks, they have problems, too. I like to joke around with my blog friends that they are perfect and I am jealous of them, but really I am always working on being happy with being me, because everyone's life is pretty great in it's own way...but it takes a lot of work and effort to find it! Thanks for the thoughtful post, it reminded me of a lot I need to be thankful for (c: Smooches, C, you are the best!

ginger said...

Great post and all so true. Now I want to do a post about my messy house,clothes that dont fit, and boring weekend. We don't need to use blogs as a forum to complain, I love the positive nature of them, but a little honest look could probably add some humor to everyone's "perfect" lives.

pretty pink tulips said...

I think you just helped a lot of people by opening up like that.

I think you're so right about surrounding yourself with people who bring you up. And, finding something that you enjoy doing outside of your "work" or children is incredibly important.

Here's to being our best seles and comparing less to those around us!! :)

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Well, it may sound horrible and disgusting, but even celebrities get diarrhea right? Why do I say so? well because we all are humans and nobody, nobody, is perfect. Why do we choose to portray the prettiest and best things of our lives on our blogs? Because it is inspiring, and even though I know that our places get dirty and messy, and we have days when we feel exhausted, it is nice to read about pretty things. We have so many bad things happening in the world, that if just by reading about someone else's life inspires us to be better and live better, then why not? Enough with the news to get depressed, and I'm not saying that I don't care about the news, just that why should we add more bad stuff? As long as we are honest and we are not portraying a lie, I don's see the problem.
Now, about self image: I think that reading blogs (especially fashion style blogs) could probably put some pressure on our image, but let's be real, if you were going to be photographed every day wouldn't you just put your best outfit every single day? If your job would be to get dressed every day and have a picture taken, wouldn't you be pretty awesome at doing it so? Don't get me wrong, I love reading fashion style blogs but I take the positive out of them, I don't compare myself to these ladies or anyone for that matter, I am me and I like being me ;)
I think I could be talking about this for hours!

Gaby [The Vault Files] said...

Oh! and I forgive you Chass, you're preggo so you must feel like you look like crap, which you don't, but we've all been there ;)

Julie and Lauren said...

I love this post, Chassity! Thank you. All of us struggle with insecurities and confidence issues and it's always hard to stop yourself from comparing. It's a slippery slope, but the most important thing is for all of us to be happy and confident in our own shoes. I struggled with an eating disorder in grade school and I can only hope that your reader has the strength to get through it and know that there truly is light and balance and comfort on the other end. I've learned that there's nothing more beautiful than being your true self-- and at the end of the day, that's the definition of 'perfect'.

SHERRY HART said...

Good thoughts Chassity...it is always so easy to view other lives as perfect....and of course no one wants to read a blog that would portray any thing different. Your message will surely help "Kelly" realize that a. Life is mundane and every once in a while you get to go on vacation :)
b. No life is perfect or without strife, but you just put one foot forward and hopefully move in that direction to get to a better place....only to do it all over again. It's the journey....and learning along the way.

Laura_NEAPOLITAN said...

This post has stuck with me since yesterday. Thanks for the food for thought. This is also, I believe, my first time commenting - so thank you first for your lovely blog, and second for the white chicken chili recipe ;) As a "non-cook", it is right up my alley and my toddler, baby and husband all love it!!!

Lonely Wife Project said...

Such a brave post Chassity! I so appreciate your honesty. And I completely agree with sharing what you want to share on your blog. It's not the best representation of real life and real life isn't perfect.

Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!} said...

I love this post, Chass! I love anything that helps me 'know' you better...because I know blogs are just the best/happiest parts of people. Real friends know all the other stuff too.

I don't know that secret either, but I think a lot of it has to do with choice. Do I choose to get pissed off/annoyed/inpatient/judgmental, etc...or do I choose to see the good, hope for the best, and realize everyone is just trying to make their own way too? I choose to be happy. I choose to not let the little things piss me off and overwhelm me. Well, most of the time. And of course there were those few months after jackson was born that I had no choice on my emotions, but that's another post! :)

xoxox

Caitlin said...

what a wonderful post chassity. thank you for sharing! your photos were ALL gorgeous - as are you.

Kristen Ellis said...

What a beautifully honest post! Thanks for sharing this. With everything that goes on in people's lives, the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly, it is important to surround yourself with family and friends who support and encourage no matter what. That is the key to happiness for me. The blogworld is an escape for some, inspiration for others, but always a fun form of personal expression. Thanks again!

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