Women and our self image

Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Michelle-2
Fiona-3 Joanna-2 Avril-6 Natalie-1Sue-3Helen-2Kat-3Frances-1Donna-1
Top to bottom: Michelle, Fiona, Joanna, Avril, Natalie, Sue, Helen, Kat, Frances and Donna


10 women. Beautiful in many different ways. Uncountable unique attributes. Mother. Influencer. Wife. Daughter. Sister. The message I'm trying to get across is that they're Real Women. These photos were taken using available natural light. Other than the removal of a teeny tiny zit and saturation/exposure adjustments, NO extraordinary photoshop magic was applied. None of these women spent hours being primped within an inch of their life before the photo shoot (but they all had plenty to drink beforehand.....).

The blogosphere and in fact, every media platform is rife with unrealistic portrayals of THE perfect woman. You look at the photos and you think, darn it, I feel crap about myself. In reality, we can all look like that if we have a hair and make up team, personal trainer, dietician and incredible Photoshop mastery.  Being in your 20s help especially when the body hasn't been stretched, snapped back, stretched.... during every pregnancy.

Here's what I've learned at this impromptu photo shoot:

1. Every woman looks at her photo and zooms in on her "flaws" (I have stumpy legs, I hate my face, I'm fat, I hate my teeth). Yet when I show the same photo to the others, the response was quite the opposite. They look at the overall photo and notice the positives (I wish I have her legs, did you see her startling blue eyes, gosh...would you look at the luminous skin, I wish I have her figure). Moral of the story? You're your worst critic and find flaws that others overlook.

2. The perfect woman doesn't exist. Keeping up with false pretenses is tiring. No one is infallible unless you're God.

3. No one on their deathbed ever said "I wish I had looked more beautiful." If anything, people remember how you'd made them feel.

4. We spend too much time worrying about our inadequacies when others spare us nary a thought. They're too busy worrying about theirs.

5. Your flaws are what make you relatable. And compassionate. And kind.

6. No one can walk in heels through cobbled lanes without looking like a drunkard navigating through a minefield. Myself included.

7. When you put yourself down the way you do, imagine your child doing the same. How heartbreaking is that to hear? They mimic their hero. That's you.


Now, tell me 3 things you like about yourself. I'll start with mine - lack of wrinkles (thanks, mom, grandma, great grandmother, great great grandmother!), my hair (losing it helps me appreciate it more) and language skills (I can mimic most accents well). What are yours?

p.s. don't forget you still have 5 days to enter the Monica Vinader giveaway. You don't need to pop your email address if you don't want to but remember to check back after the 9th of March.



45 comments:

  1. This is SUCH a good post and I know I am so guilty of putting myself down. I will TRY hard but it's undoing 40 years of not believing in myself.

    Here are my 3 things:
    1 - I have bright blue eyes
    2 - I have long legs
    3 - I like to make others feel good about themselves

    Thank you again Marlene - this has made me smile and feel nice :-)

    Fiona

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  2. Brilliant pictures. Your' observations are so spot on. I think we naturally zoom in on the minutiae and we need to take a step back and relax.
    I like to smile, I have a good one. I am a good listener (I can talk a fair bit too) I have a slightly warped sense of humour.

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  3. Oh Marlene this is a cracking post. Thanks so much for featuring me. It's really hard trying to do the reverse, I always put myself down but what a powerful exercise.

    I too have long legs, my teeth are straight (and all my own) and I can laugh at myself xx

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  4. Oh my gosh - you've brought tears to my eyes reading this. You are amazing - we all are! xxx

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  5. Wow - you have articulated that so well. And it's a big wake up call to us all especially those of us with daughters. My three would be hair also, the fact that I'm the same size now as I was when I was in my 20's and my feet...haha! x

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  6. Such a lovely post and you are a talented photographer, I love looking at your photos on you blog whether people, food or scenery you capture the moment beautifully. Thanks for your lovely photos they look fab x

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  7. This is such a lovely post and gorgeous pictures of the girls. My three would be my lips ( full don't need a filler ) small feet and I am struggling now for the third .... ( like you say I could give you a long list of things I hate ) i would say the colour of my eyes, Irish green. X

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    1. Fashion Mum: I think green eyes are so utterly stunning, rare too, tres envious!

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  8. A great post Marlene & stunning pictures from the meet up. I don't think there's a single 'normal' woman that couldn't relate to this post. I've been thinking it a lot recently but if brands started to use 'real' women it would really help them connect with their target market - after all an item of clothing on a supermodel that has been photoshopped is never going to look as good on someone whose super critical of themselves. I think with all the images in the media we're forgetting how like fine wine a person also gets better with age.
    Jane xx
    www.mymidlifefashion.com

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  9. Last night I complimented you on Fiona's photo, now I've seen all the others they are so natural and lovely in their own way. Amen to this blog post, point 7 is what matters most to me bringing up well balanced confident (not arrogant) children. How I wish I wouldn't compare myself to other women but I do but I am getting better at this as I get older. I think I'm going to really love your blog. Best wishes Vikki x ps I have good skin, I'm caring and a good listener, it's not easy to do, is it?

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  10. Well said & articulated(all gorgeous & stylish too;-)!

    X

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  11. 3 & 6 are words to live by.

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  12. It's so hard not to compare when there are so many perfect images out there. And there's so much truth in what you say. Most days, I feel good but every now and then, I get the collywobbles and suddenly I'm not this and I'm not that. But thankfully, the good days outweigh the bad generally. But it is so nice to see such lovely pictures of beautiful real ladies which is why I enjoy their blogs so much.

    Thanks for putting up with us all :o) and taking such gorgeous photos.

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  13. Love this post. One thing I like about being in my forties is that I don't care so much what others think of me any more. This is me, thats all!

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  14. We are so very critical of ourselves aren't we?! That was the great thing about doing these photos with you Marlene, it really made me realise that we really beat ourselves up about these things yet could it be as we just don't really see ourselves as we are but just how we percieve ourselves to be? You have made some fantastic points....absolutely hitting the nail on the head so to speak!
    As for my 3 things blue eyes, good teeth (they should be for the amount of orthodontic work I endured!) and I am loyal.
    It was such a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for taking such a lovely photograph of me and featuring it on your blog, I've have had such lovely comments about the picture already. Also I really enjoyed chatting to you and hope to meet you again at some point in the future x

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  15. This is one of your absolute best posts—and maybe a great post within the blogosphere! Thank you.

    And it ends with a great question . . . 3 things I like about myself:

    I can teach myself just about anything
    My waist
    And I make the best madeleine cookies

    xo

    Off to read these other women's blogs...

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  16. What a fantastic post and such a welcome breath of fresh air! I stumbled on your blog via thechigprgamatist and find it so amusing and inspiring. Getting older in a culture obsessed by youth is extremely difficult for women and oftentimes it's other women bringing other women down. It's so nice to read something so uplifting and kind-hearted on the internet.

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  17. Fantastic post. You all look totally gorgeous. I think strength and confidence in a women is the most attractive quality and you all look like you have that. I love my height ( didn’t when I was younger, I am kind and I hope I am the best mum I can be :) x

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  18. Beautiful post! I like my hair, teeth and eyebrows!

    www.thatbelfastgirl.blogspot.com

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  19. All of these women are beautiful, magazines should be filled with more images like these! I like my smile, my height (most of the time) and my eyes!

    xoxo
    Stacey
    Five Minute Style 

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  20. All these ladies are gorgeous--and what great style!! I mean, I know you are style bloggers, but still :)
    So three things: I like my lips, my ability to learn things easily, and that I enjoy helping others.

    Alissa

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  21. Beautiful pictures and beautiful women who seem to feel great in their skin (or so I hope) but well what really like REALLY came to my mind when I saw all the pictures was: all these women look alike, all wearing slim, boots or sneakers, same kind of casual clothes. Arrgh what a pity in my opinion. Where is style there? Can't one dare to wear a skirt or a dress? Apart from that, as I wrote they are all gorgeous. As the three things: I like my eyes (colour, mix of blue-grey-green), my legs and my ability to be positive.

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    1. eveange66, most of these women have to come a long way to the meet. Some by plane, others travel for hours by train. Some have very small little ones and most have made a tremendous effort to get there between errands. With the kind of lifestyle they lead as well as the weather we've been having, practical casual is the reality of these women. Many here aren't strangers to dresses nor skirts but dresses or skirts aren't exactly practical if you're juggling babies, tube, train and plane - all on the same day.

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    2. May I suggest familiarising yourself with the blogs that these ladies spend a lot of time and effort producing. You usually find that they sum up what they have been wearing and you will see that variety and style is in abundance. H

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  22. I agree, everyone could be more confident! I love these portraits and how they capture a range of styles and each person's personality....a really awesome post!

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  23. Wonderful women, interesting dressers and most importantly - for me anyway - they look fun! oscars winners all around where the women who looked like real women

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  24. What an amazing post. You are so right! I do absolutely anything I can to avoid photos and if they are taken, I immediately delete any I hate if I can get hold of the camera/phone. I never like the way I look on photographs and immediately hone in on all my negatives (and you're right, they are things my friends often compliment me on). If only we could see the positives more in ourselves. You have captured these beautiful, real women perfectly. Well done! Lynne x

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  25. If you could of photoshopped me to a size 10, I would of come! These pictures are gorgeous Marlene, I would of felt very inferior xx

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    1. Sharron ... I am most definitely NOT a size 10 ... the last time I was that slim was pre pregnancy and my daughter is now a teen. Nobody felt inferior or superior - it was exactly what a women's meet up should be like all the time! We would have loved you to be there ... the day was all about fun, laughing (an obscene amount of prosecco!!) Neither size nor fashion featured to be honest!

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  26. Wise words indeed. My teenage daughter won't let me take any photos of her because she doesn't like the results and won't smile properly in any photos I do get because of her (perfectly normal) teeth! I'm going to show this to her and stop whinging about photos of me too. You all look beautiful in these pictures. And me? I like my legs, my eyes and the fact I still have a waist despite advancing years.

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  27. Gorgeous photos. So lovely to see some of my favourite style bloggers looking fabulous in London.

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  28. All the girls look fantastic - brilliant photos! This post rings so true - it should be published in a magazine for all to read! I always home in on my negatives - always have done - maybe now I'm a ripe old age it's time to stop! Forcing out three things here - figure is pretty much the same as pre-children, half-decent skin (mum's good genes also!) + I can dance my socks off! :)

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  29. Love this! Looks like you ladies had a fantastic time. As I hear my kids mimic things that I know I say all the time it really mirrors back how we have to try and be our best selves all the time because kids really pick up everything.

    Things I like about myself

    1. willingness to continually learn new things
    2. My curves
    3. My lips

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  30. Like others, I really enjoyed this post. I am glad that they all agreed to be photographed because every lady here has such great style. I love the different body and facial features, sizes and styles-just awesome! For myself, learning to appreciate myself (without comparing) gets easier with age. I like my sense of style, waist/shape, smile and (even though they are short) my legs. I also like being petite and looking WAY younger than anyone ever thinks I am.
    -Missone

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  31. Marlene this a is such a beautiful post! Every lady here has wonderful style, a pretty smile and all of them have very intriguing eyes, that makes me want to hear their story's. There is no such thing as the perfect person and I find with each "flaw" it is made up with a good sense of humour, an intelligent mind or some other fascinating personality trait. I'm so glad you wrote this post Marlene :)

    Take care,
    Daniella xox

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  32. Oh Marlene, what a lovely post. Thank you for writing it and sharing it, you really hit home on such an important topic. As you well know, I am not very relaxed in front of the camera nor think I take a good photo. However, just for you (and my daughters!) my 3 favourites; my flat tummy even after 2 babies, my ability to love pretty much everyone and everything and lastly I like my nails, they are a great natural shape! x

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  33. First time I've come to your blog and what a great post, you're so very right. It looked as though you all had such a good day on Saturday. What a challenge to list 3 likes, I think mine would be my brain, my eyes, my insight.

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  34. Just perfect Marlene! You are so right! I never see my nearest & dearests flaws & they always look so beautiful to me no matter what the occasion/situation! I wish I could be like that about myself! I like the fact that I'm 40 but don't have a single grey hair yet, I like that I escaped 2 pregancies without a single stretch mark & I like my positive attitude that again I have my parents to thank for! Thank you for this post! All the girls are gorgeous as are you! Ax

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  35. Wow I have tears streaming down my face.

    This: No one, on their deathbed ever said "I wish I had looked more beautiful." - really hit home with me.

    We are all our own worst enemies and I think as bloggers, this is magnified somewhat. I've been really uncomfortable about posting pics of myself on my blog recently (& haven't been) because of my insecurities and yet....

    Your flaws are what make you relatable. - is the absolute truth.

    Thank you for the wake up call.

    Nic x

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  36. Really fantastic post! I can't say much more than has already been said. There is no such person as normal we are unique and have days where our confidence wobbles and we have days where we could conquer the world! The three things I love about myself - my age, I grow to love myself the older I get, I have great legs and no bingo wings - Sue x

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  37. Marlene, these photos are beautiful! Three things I like about myself, I like my skin, I like my figure (flat chest and all) and I like that I have a subtle sense of humour, many people don't know I'm funny, but I really am! :)

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  38. I think this is an absolutely wonderful post. The pictures are just stunning, and the commentary is spot on. Love it !
    :0)
    Paul

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  39. A brilliant post and you ladies all look like you had such a fun day.
    Its hard to look at photos of ourselves or to look in the mirror and not see things we perceive as flaws. Its also hard when you leave the house feeling amazing and then you see what you believe to be the perfect woman and in one fell swoop you feel awful and so bad about yourself that you just want to go home and hide. Overcoming these feelings of judging ourselves so harshly is a difficult journey but one we all need to take so that we can see ourselves as we really are.
    Thank you for this reminder.

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  40. This is my first time I visit here. I discovered a lot of interesting things. Thanks for the FANTASTIC post!

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