It's DAY TWO of the Confidence Blog Carnival and things are hotting up!
Every day for 11 days there will be a brand new blog post on the topic of Confidence written by some of the top powerhouses in the body positivity, health at every size and confidence arena. This really is a killer line up so enjoy the second post from Vivienne McMaster, you can read the original on her website here or in full below.
Written by Vivienne McMaster
What does confidence look like through the camera lens?
We know what we’re told confidence it’s ‘supposed’ to look like. We’re told it’s our goal, told what it looks like, what it wears, what it’s proportions are.
Or at least that’s what I thought. That’s what a lot of us think, even as we’re in the process of unlearning the expectations of what our body is ‘supposed to look like’. It felt like one of the remaining big expectations I had put on myself in my own body acceptance journey.
As though finding ‘confidence’ and taking photos that embody it was going to prove I crossed some body-love finish line.
And I believed that, until I tried to make it happen.
Until I chose ‘confidence’ as my word of the year a couple years ago. I don’t know if you do this practice, of choosing a word of the year and inviting it to permeate and inspire your year. I like to choose juicy words of the year. Ones that are going to shake up my world a bit and leave me thriving even more. Confidence was clearly going to be one of those. A success I’d reach in learning to love myself. A goal.
So I went out that year to discover my own confidence. What would it feel like? What would it look like? How would it change me?
There were so many realizations that happened when I started to explore inviting in confidence through the camera and into my life as a whole and I’d love to share some of them with you today. I quickly realized that I was starting to equate ‘confidence’ with ‘perfection’ or feel like I was getting it right. It felt like one of those sticking points in my own body acceptance. To let go of ‘perfection’ as the goal and really learn to confidently walk the world in the skin I’m in.
But, much like any journey, it never quite goes as planned does it, and we find ourselves learning something completely different than we expected.
So there are 3 things I learned about what confidence looks like through the camera:
1.It looks different for everyone.
There is no one way ‘confidence’ looks. I know it’s easy to think that’s not the case. Especially in the visual culture surrounding us ALL the time, including a lot of selfie culture. Confidence is supposed to look carefree, empowered, something we aspire to.
If I’m really honest with you, I sometimes find myself comparing myself to folks in the body positive world who rock bikini selfies or amazing shots in their bra and undies that make me stand up and give them an ovation. I get caught up in that whirlwind a lot, until I listen in to my way of finding confidence through the camera and remember that it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.
And because there is a different kind of confidence awaiting me if I listen in for it. I thought maybe someday it would be but now that I’m starting to see what confidence looks like to me, through my own self-portraits, I’ve let go of any specific type of photo as what I hold up as embodied confidence.
I see it in the incredible people I get to work with too. Confidence is putting your toes into the frame of your very first selfie. Or sometimes not wiping the tears away and looking directly into the lens. For some it’s showing a part of ourselves that we’ve been hiding from the camera for a very long time. It might be not retouching our photo or even using creativity as a tool to see our photos with more love.
Confidence doesn’t look one way. There is no one kind of selfie you need to take to embody confidence. There is just you, showing up for yourself with resilience and an openness to see yourself in a new way. That’s what confidence through the camera looks like to me.
2. It’s from within. It’s the feeling translated through your photo. And it doesn’t have to be seen by others to exist.
Confidence comes from listening to your own inner voice and letting it be heard. Not just the external expectations. It’s empowered self-awareness. Yet, saying that, it can feel like something that we need to achieve doesn’t it.
Or maybe I should say, it’s about giving less of shit about what other people think and caring more about what you think outside of those external voices! This is definitely a practice where the camera can be so helpful. My experience in that year and every since was that confidence looked like ME looking back at me in the photo and the strengthening of that inner voice than counteracted my inner critic, even if at first it was only a whisper.
What I love about this is that we can translate that inner self-awareness externally. Through our clothes or style. Through our expressions and creative explorations through the camera. And like I mentioned in #1…it doesn’t look any certain way. It’s you, listening in for your story and letting it be heard.
Oh, and there’s one more piece to this one. It doesn’t need to be heard by others to be valid. I know especially when talking about selfies it’s easy to let confidence be something we derive from other people’s responses, but what I found out in that year of confidence explorations was that I stopped putting the power in the hands of other people, and returned it to my own hands.
3. It’s a Process.
Confidence to me feels like a process of taking brave action, getting vulnerable and then finding resilience and slowly building ourselves up to a place where we stop being our own enemy and get on our own team.
Taking self-portraits, of course, can be a tool for cultivating that resilience. One of the questions I SO commonly get is “How does one get the confidence to start taking selfies?” and the truth is, if you keep the camera at bay waiting to be ‘ready’, the day isn’t going to come. Because like any tool we use for body-acceptance, the work awaits us on the way there. Not before we begin.
Confidence through the camera isn’t something we achieve. It’s not picture perfect or a ‘perfect picture’. It’s the process of letting go of external expectations and learning about our own and learning to claim space as our weird, awesome, fabulous, quirky selves!
So, if it’s a process, then…
What does confidence look like? It looks like you, right here right now.
Finding confidence through the camera lens doesn’t look like any one kind of photo. It doesn’t even look like anyone else’s photo you’ve seen before, because it is your story unfolding.
In the learning, in the process.
Confidence looks like listening in for the new stories that are going to rewrite the old ones.
Confidence looks like you, stepping into your own power, listening in for your own voice.
There is no right or wrong way to embody confidence through the camera, nor is it a finish line you need to cross someday.
Confidence looks like you and I, in the process of learning this all.
Vivienne McMaster is a photographer, workshop leader and positive body image advocate from Vancouver, Canada. She who helps folks around the world see themselves with compassion through their own camera lens. Her photographs have been seen in such places as Oprah.com and The Huffington Post. The camera and self-portraiture helped her heal her own negative body image and she's now on a mission share these tools and help folks choose compassion over critique, one photo at a time. You can more about her at www.beyourownbeloved.com