If I advocate that we're more than our appearance, should I share pics of myself?
One of the big questions I confront in my business is whether or not I should share a picture of a person.
This question takes up a lot of my time. More than one might think it should.
My work focuses on de-centering appearance for womxn. I focus specifically on two of the Big 5 Body Image industries, fashion and beauty. (The other tree industries are diet, health and wellness, and fitness.) So, this question directly relates to the work that I do.
I don’t have a good answer yet though. Nor do I have just one answer. I tend to take it case by case and my answer is still evolving.
But I think why this question is so complicated for me in my work is actually far more interesting than the answer (at this point).
My belief is that it’s not that appearance has no role to play, it’s just that we’ve elevated it to a place of such importance that we are letting it guide our judgments of people and their worth, ourselves included.
So, when it comes to sharing pictures, how do I do this in a way that doesn’t further promote the very thing I’m working to change? How do I not undermine my point by inadvertently making it all about someone’s appearance?
Before and after pictures? They’re common in style work and in body positivity postings. But I don’t do them and I think they’re more problematic than not. They still emphasize appearance.
Pictures of client results? Nope. My work is focused on shifting the relationship between yourself, your appearance, and how you feel about how you show up in the world. That relationship doesn’t reveal itself in a photo. So I don’t share these.
But pictures of me? This is where I struggle a lot with this question.
I want you to know me and seeing me is a part of that. But, I hold a lot of privilege because of my looks. Is it right that I use that privilege to my advantage knowing that many people will be more receptive of what I say because my looks align to cultural ideals (for the most part)? Or is that playing into the dynamic and perpetuating it too much? I don’t know. I’ve come out on both sides of this debate.
I also don’t want my message to get mixed up with saying we should avoid looks altogether. I have a visual design background. I believe in the power of visual communication and think we can use it as one of many tools or forms of expression. I just don’t think we should ascribe as much value to personal appearance as we do. And I worry that becoming a faceless voice would actually communicate that appearance is irrelevant, which is not my belief.
So, I don’t know the answer to whether or not to share pictures of people across the board.
In some instances I’m clear on where I stand. In others I’m not.
But I know that the fact that I have to spend so much time thinking about this question in order to be thoughtful and aligned to what I believe and value is further evidence that we are too appearance-obsessed in our culture.