I might not show it, or make it so obvious, but my appearance has always been an important part of my life. I am constantly conscious of my body, clothes and, especially, hair. My hair was always different; it was always frizzy. In some parts curly, in some straight; always dry and thin. And I always longed and desired beautiful, long and thick hair, like all the other girls that I see, literally, every day.
Yesterday, I spent a family day at a BBQ, I was taking photos throughout the day, and realised something, that I wish I realised before.
My grandma put her hands on her head when she saw the portrait that I took of her. She didn’t like her wrinkles and the spots on her skin. Yet to me that picture was one of my favourite pictures from the day; along with a picture of my mum and grandma both laughing. My mum didn’t like her face in that picture – but I did.
When taking photographs, I never imagine photographing people who conform to the magazine ‘beauty’ standards. I love taking photos that aren’t posed – images of people laughing, are my favourite – images of people without make-up, and ones that show every little wrinkle, that shows that we are human, not plastic mannequins. If we never smiled, laughed or cried, we wouldn’t have those features, so we should cherish those, just like we cherish pictures.
When I went into the centre of Nottingham, to take photos of people around the city, I was imagining, not cool, hip or pretty teenage girls, but I was imagining women, and men, with real facial features. Ones that have wrinkles, unique smiles and freckles and sun spots. The small features that really made them ‘them’.
Our bodies tell a tale, they’re like a big plain canvas; when we are born, our skin is empty, but with every smile, laugh and bruise, we develop into a piece of art, almost like a photo album, but one that we often ignore. When we remember people we love, we remember their features, that we love most about them. The way their dimples indent when they smile, the way their eyebrow raises when they’re not impressed and the way their eyes puff up when they laugh. Without those little features, we wouldn’t be unique; there is not one person with the exact same wrinkles, so why do we hate them so much?
Taking care of our skin is important, to feel good, clean and healthy – but don’t despite the things that make you ‘you’. To others, those exact features you hate, are the ones they remember you for.
Loving our skin should be a social norm, not disliking it. Sometimes we forget that the wrinkles and stretch marks that mark our skin are permanent memories that we always treasure and wish we could capture. They’re the un-captured memories that we always wished we had captured.
Trust me, make-up won’t help you when you’re 45 years old, so why don’t we just accept the way our skin is, is the way it’s supposed to be? Yeah, you might have an ‘ugly’ face, who cares? If people love you, they will love you for those features deemed as ‘ugly’ in magazines.