Self censorship: the strive to be picture perfect

We all do it. Take a thousand photos just to get one that is just right. Use filters to help ease the cracks of time. Change the frame to hide all the piles of life’s detritus gathering on any and all surface around the house. It’s quite time consuming. And stressful.

Writing has meant that I’ve stripped back some of my self censorship. Somewhat unintentionally. I didn’t really think it through. I don’t care about strangers reading my thoughts but I forgot that posting this publicly meant that my friends and family would also see a different more open version of me. So to make me feel better about that, I’m going to address the different areas of my life I censor.

Photos of my house:

I hate when photos reveal the state that my home is in. I try to keep on top of everything but I’m not always successful. We have too much stuff and not enough space. I’m busy running around after Boo. I am knackered once she goes to bed and often go to bed then myself. And, when I feel depressed I just don’t give a shit. But even though this is all true and my house is usually fine, I cringe everytime M posts a photo the shows the Hayward Himalayas. I know this is because before I lived with M, I had a beautiful flat that was every inch of perfect. Vintage furniture. Classic novels. Upcycled chairs. Kitsch fittings. Cotton sheets. It was glorious. It was an extension of me. It’s been hard to compromise (for both of us) but we are getting there and I need to chill out. I have a toddler – my house just cannot be perfect right now. And, we own a house. How amazing is that? It’s ours. Our family home. Where I live with my HUSBAND and DAUGHTER. Good perspective really.

Photos of me:

Selfies are great. A framed shot that only shows my face (which I’m a fan of). If I get it right, I can even disguise the layer of chub that encircles my entire face. Winner! I’m also in control. I can see the shot as I take it and adjust accordingly. Photos taken by M of me are always pretty terrible. I take it as a compliment: he says I’m always beautiful and the photos of me he takes proves he really believes that. I can cope with these photos too because I still have control. I ask him to take more. I ask him not to share the ones I hate. Photos taken by others though are a real source of anxiety. I have no control over the photo itself. I don’t know how I look or what they’ll do with the photo. My wedding day made me really nervous because there was such potential for me to be in 100s of terrible shots.

Why does it bother me so much? Well I still see myself as a slim 18 year old and I don’t want the world to find out I’m a fraud. I worry about people’s judgement of me. I feel ashamed that I’ve let myself become this version of me. It’s not healthy though. I’ve been asking M to take more photos with me in and have even stood for photos! It’s a work in progress. Not totally loving my mirror image yet.

Swearing:

We all have different versions of ourselves. In all of the versions of me, I swear to some degree (apart from when I’m a teacher, then I go to the cupboard and say it under my breathe). But for some reason, I really cringe every time I write a swear word on social media. I guess face to face you can gauge the atmosphere and swear (or not) appropriately. On my first date with M, he broke the cardinal rule of first dates. He said cunt. Luckily for him, he was talking about Michael Gove, who thoroughly deserves the moniker. I knew then we were going to go far. He was happy to swear. That matters to me because I need to be able to express myself freely around my spouse. I’m trying not to omit to much of my real voice when I write here; I’m writing this largely to help me so I need to be authentic. But the crawling feeling I get often stops me from typing the expletives that accompanied the sentence. I’m not totally sure why. I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing. Jury is out on that one.

Religion:

Heard the adage – don’t discuss religion or politics? Well, I happily rant about politics. It’s something I love to discuss and feel is really important to my life, my community, my country and our planet. Religion is a big no no for me. Again, face to face I will rant about religion but not on social media. I was raised a Christian but after a very painful divorce, I’m now an atheist. I guess I try not to discuss it publicly now because I’ve reached a place where I’m more comfortable in my own beliefs and more respectful of other people’s. Plus, having worked really hard at offending my parents throughout my twenties, I would really just like us to be loving now. The rebellion is over. I love them. We believe different things and I don’t want to upset them. So I don’t post about it. And I’m ok with that.

Parenting:

I know that I am a good parent. Boo is a chatty and happy girl. She’s sensitive and sweet; cheeky and funny. We do lots of fun things together that I happily post about. However, right now she is watching Peppa Pig wearing just her nappy while I write this. I don’t usually post that! I need quiet time. So does she. We are side by side but having some zombie time. It’s not the best part of my parenting, and I actually think it’s important – but I don’t want to be judged so I don’t talk about it. I should give everyone more credit though, I don’t know why I think they spend all of their time judging me. And I don’t know why I think they would automatically think what I do is wrong. I have often shared with other mums that they need to do what is best for their family. Breast or formula: what is best for your family. Baby led or spoon fed: what is best for your family. Cosleep or nursery: what is best for your family. I don’t judge others, I know it’s so hard and what we need is support. So maybe I need to be more open and honest here and trust that others will be the same.

 

This list is not exhaustive but definitely the main areas I censor. It’s good to list them. Perspective always helps address and modify unhealthy behaviour.

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