What to Know Before You Compare Yourself to A Photo on Social Media

alb lady project launch

This is a picture of my friend Lea and me, taken two nights ago. As of right now, it has received over 140 likes and around 30 comments. I can’t recall if the photos announcing my children’s births got that much action. As the accolades were pouring in yesterday, a vain part of me was a little thrilled, but that bigger, empathetic mom voice in me was stronger. “You are contributing to an unfair Facebook highlight reel. This is not your real life.”

Except, it is. But it’s only a part of it. A tiny part of it.

This was taken at the end of an incredible night that we’ve worked hard for and a post to celebrate our success was warranted. We have been working for months with a team of incredible women to launch a local chapter of Lady Project, a nonprofit women’s group celebrating awesome women doing amazing things. This was the night of our sold out launch event. We’d just hosted a room full of inspirational, driven, passionate women excited to support one another and our community. We had reason to celebrate with a selfie. But, before anyone feels deflated upon seeing a glamorous snapshot in their news feed, they must know that none of this came easy.

A picture might speak a thousand words, but this one speaks a thousand lies. Let me tell you the real story.

  1. I did not wake up like this. While my husband took my children to run errands, I spent an ungodly amount of time on my hair. We’re talking hair dryer, straightener, and two different types of product – neither of which was dry shampoo. It was excessive.
  2. I am wearing about 13 pounds of makeup in this picture. I used foundation primer for God’s sake! This was covered in actual foundation and two different types of concealer. There were then roughly 17 other makeup items piled on top. I think Kylie Jenner would have told me to tone it down if she, you know, hung out with moms in their late 30s.
  3. Lea and I both hate shopping, yet spent two full hours at the mall days before this picture was taken in order to find perfect ensembles. I ended up wearing a blouse I bought in desperation, and she ended up wearing an old one of mine because she’d left her brand new, steamed blouse at home in her rush to leave a house full of kids. She realized she wasn’t wearing a bra when we got to the event.
  4. Shortly before this picture was taken, I was standing barefoot on a city street because I could not tolerate wearing my stiletto heels for one more second. I literally ripped them off my feet on a freezing, dirty sidewalk so that I could rummage through my bag to find a pair of flats I had packed for such an occasion. Sophisticated.
  5. Two Words: Photo Tricks. I don’t really look like this! Are you kidding me? First we found a spot out of harsh light. We then worked on the angle. Several shots were deleted until we settled on this one. And then, the piece de resistance – Instagram filters. After that process, I could make a picture of my elbow look hot.

And then there’s the event itself. We bombarded our Facebook pages with event teasers and advertisements. We used words like “excited” and “thrilled” but we left out the ones like “terrified” and “freaking out.” We didn’t put up any posts bragging about letting our kids watch two straight hours of YouTube so that we could figure out how to sell tickets on Eventbrite. There were no pictures of the pile of laundry that was accumulating at the top of my basement stairs posted to Instagram. I most certainly did not tweet about the amount I sweat the day leading up to the event or the stress dreams I had about speaking in front of a crowd. Nope. To the world of social media, we seemed like two confident working moms doing it all. Ha!

So, before you go comparing yourself to pictures and posts you see floating around your social media page, it’s best to know the truth. Sure, I might have a special evening once in a while, but most of the time, I’m rocking dirty hair and jeans I’ve worn two dozen times without washing. And you better believe that those special evenings mean that I’ve dropped the ball somewhere else.

If you don’t believe me, allow me to share a video my daughter took of me literally licking wing sauce and blue cheese off of a plate – taken less than 24 hours after the aforementioned photo. Also note that I didn’t post this one to Facebook, even though it’s more “me” than a night spent in stiletto heels.

Video

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make that first photo my profile picture in case any ex-boyfriends happen to search my name…