I Posted Honest Captions With Unapologetic Selfies & This Is What Happened
Back in Nov. 2015, Australian Instagram model Essena O'Neill made headlines for quitting social media, deleting most of her Instagram photos and changing the remaining images to host honest selfie captions. When I first read about her story, which was ironically pretty hard to miss on social media, I couldn't help but think about how sharing selfies on social platforms has actually helped me learn to genuinely love myself.
When I first started sharing selfies on Instagram, it was something I was terrified of. Initially, my captions were simple because getting the guts to post the photos was hard enough. But I am a pretty honest person, and eventually that trait crept into my selfie captions both on Instagram and Twitter. Since then, people have told me that my honest selfie captions are one of the things that has drawn them to me most.
So while I can't relate to someone who quits social media, I can relate to the desire to want to present yourself honestly. By sharing raw moments and snaps of my real life, I've built a community of folks who can relate to me, and I to them. I never try to portray the idea that I'm perfect. Rather, I try to define what perfection means to me. And part of that means being honest about everything from my struggles and insecurities to my successes and moments of confidence. Here are nine times I've posted honest selfie captions, and the results of doing so.
1. The Acne Selfie
Acne has been a part of my life for so long now that I don't even remember what it's like not to have a single pimple. As I've gotten older, my acne isn't as bad as it was in my teenage years, but it definitely hasn't disappeared — and it gets worse when I'm stressed.
I remember taking this photo and loving everything about it, except for the fact that my chin pimple was pretty visible. I posted the selfie anyway, drawing attention to the pimple in the caption. Someone replied, "Gorgeous nevertheless." And I couldn't agree more.
2. The #YesThatsMyBra Selfie
I've never had a problem dressing in bold and unapologetic styles, but wearing lingerie was always a different story for me. When I took these selfies with my end-of-day hair and makeup, I was, as I said, "Very into this shirt," and I was proud that I was able to wear a mesh top that showed my bra for the entire day.
There's something about being able to break fashion rules and call out their problematic nature that I find very rewarding.
3. The Un-Glamorous Blogger Selfie
Depending on what your definition of a selfie may be, this possibly isn't one because, as the caption says, my mom took the photo. While she takes about 75 percent of the photos for my blog (and for my stories), she is still my mom and not a trained photographer. Not only did I find this photo funny, but it was important for me to share it.
People sometimes see blogging as something that you need a lot of tools and resources for. Even though that is partly true, getting someone in your life to take photos of you is really the first very accessible step. I am not getting my hair and makeup done and going to some photographer's studio. Most of the time, it's just my mom and me. When I posted this, a lot of fellow bloggers could relate and see the humor.
4. The Makeup-Made-Me-Feel-Better Selfie
I've been open about living with anxiety and depression, and I have good days and bad days. I experience moments when getting out of bed and getting dressed is difficult. The day I took this selfie was a down day. But I decided to do my hair and makeup, even though I really didn't feel like it.
Once I had completed it, I did feel better. I wasn't hiding the pain from the day, but makeup is something I enjoy (which doesn't make me less body positive or feminist). When I posted this selfie, I said that I almost didn't put makeup on. Although I didn't share the full reason why, I think admitting that it's something that made me feel better takes guts.
5. The Makeup-Was-Convenient Selfie
I am a proponent of the five-minute face, but I am definitely not a person who feels like she has to wear makeup every day. Sometimes when I wear it, it cheers me up. Other times, it's just the easier thing to do. On this particular day, I woke up with the remnants of a liquid to matte lip still on my face. Without makeup remover, I was faced with the decision to put more makeup on top of what I still had on from the previous day, or go out with just this upper lip stain on.
The fact that no one really had any response to it suggested to me that people realize this kind of honesty isn't really out of character for me.
6. The Poll Selfie
I am a novice makeup enthusiast at best, so sometimes I get insecure about my skills and abilities. I put this out on Twitter — sort of unsure about whether or not I would keep on the look or take it off and try again. The response — mainly that my makeup was on point — definitely made me realize that I was overthinking things, and that it looked great. I think I ended up taking 100 more selfies that day.
7. The No Social Life Selfie
Before moving back to the suburbs of Cleveland to pursue writing and designing full time, I lived in both Atlanta and Chicago. They were big cities with pretty thriving night lives. I had friends, and I went out somewhat often. I cannot say the same for my current situation.
It's certainly not uncommon to catch me complaining about my suburban sacrifice on social media. But this past New Year's Eve, I loved my makeup and expressed how I had nowhere to go beyond the grocery store to get champagne. That's the real glamorous life of an entrepreneur.
8. The Eff You To Fat Shamers Selfie
One of the things that I find most important about my social media journey is sharing both the good and bad sides of my fat visibility. While I do not share or call out every troll who comes my way, I do raise awareness to the fact that this kind of hate exists. In the moment of this selfie, my frustration with Project Harpoon/Thinner Beauty was at its peak. It's been important to me to show on social media that I am affected by fat shaming, and that being affected by it isn't some sign of weakness. My ability to channel that energy into my work is part of my strength.
9. The Highly Emotional & Vulnerable Selfie
I am pretty honest about the fact that my business and brand are something that I do because they're my passion, and not because they make me a bunch of money. But pursuing my passion as a career has forced me to make some major financial sacrifices. Like the everyday reminder of living in suburban Ohio with my parents, of course.
But one of the most poignant and unexpected reminders of this sacrifice came when I went to pick up a prescription, only to find out that there was no way I could afford it. I shared this frustration on my personal Facebook page. It's still difficult for me to talk about these experiences because my financial instability in the face of pursuing my dreams is a major insecurity for me, even though I actively work on defining success on terms not relating to money.
However, in this moment of extreme frustration and disappointment, I shared what happened on my page and said, "All of the things I thought I would have to sacrifice for my business, I didn't think my health would be one of them." Before I knew it, people were sharing their words of support. Calls and texts flowed in from some of my biggest inspirations, including Marie Denee of The Curvy Fashionista, and people started offering to send me money to pay for the prescription.
Before I knew it, Tess Holliday had sent me the money in full. I have never felt so supported by the plus size community than I did that day. And it all started because I shared a honest moment of my life on social media.
Honest selfie captions just work for me. Although I have some level of visibility online, I still live a pretty normal life. Portraying myself authentically through images and captions has opened me up to new opportunities and allowed me to connect with people. I won't be quitting social media anytime soon, because my social media life is already pretty mirrored in my real one. And that feels pretty good to me.