In our modern era, cameras and videos are EVERYWHERE. You would be hard pressed to find any public area without seeing someone’s head tuned down, deep into their cell phones. I’ve even witnessed people in church shamelessly pull out their cell phones when they are supposed to be PRAYING (I say this without judgment ya’ll!).
Many of us like to whip out a camera at any given moment to either boldly take a selfie or record something that we deem “share worthy” on Facebook. We cannot live without our phones, afraid we are going to miss a second of something. When leaving the house, chances are we first look for our phone and THEN our keys.
For many of us in the entertainment industry, the obsession with picture taking is multiplied by a million compared to rest of the world. We truly live in a fishbowl where our personal and professional lives BLUR by the millisecond. We know our most flattering angles– and with our razor sharp “always on” spidey sense, can usually sense a smartphone or camera pointing at us from a mile away.
A few weeks ago, I was rehearsing in a studio. I was well aware of a friend of mine taking a couple of behind the scenes shots which I didn’t mind at all… Then, a tiny voice in the back of my head piped up to say, “Dellany, you aren’t in one of your more flattering outfits and you’re barely wearing any makeup — you are going to look bad if photographed”; however, I mentally pushed that old recording completely out of my brain, because I like to focus more on my inner, mental and emotional confidence. As a body image advocate, I fully believe that when you are mentally and emotionally confident in yourself, then you will be more well equipped to be a healthy individual all around– no matter what you looked like walking out the front door.
The very next morning I woke up to a Facebook notification: I’d been tagged. Still in a calm state of mind and a little sleepy, I clicked on the notification to look at the image. As soon as I saw the pic– I JOLTED into an upright position: It was an absolutely hideous picture of me! Or so I thought it was. In my mind, I had allowed that effing, stupid recording to come up to the front burner again: “Dellany look at how fat your face has gotten… and where did your waistline go? You look like a pale pasty version of Violet from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory AFTER she chewed the blueberry gum… Your double chin is showing and your posture resembles Shrek… YOU are an AWFUL hideous excuse of a human being and you are out of your mind if you think anyone would ever listen to you or believe what you have to say about loving themselves as they are– bc you aren’t loving yourself as YOU are…”
Caught up in temporary emotions, I immediately contacted my friend and requested to be untagged… After going back and forth for awhile, my friend gave up on trying to convince me that it wasn’t an awful image, and not only was I untagged, but the picture was deleted. Well, now I felt like an asshole because I had made my well-intentioned friend feel bad. I burst into tears and forced myself to ask some hard and honest questions: I didn’t MEAN for the picture to be deleted from my friend’s wall; I just didn’t want anyone I knew to see it. But WHY did I want to hide my “not so great” side from my friends? Why did I have such a problem with taking a picture off guard without a dress and lots of makeup to hide under? Why haven’t I been feeling good physically or mentally lately??
I knew the answer to this.
I have been under the illusion that I had finally “healed” from the 30+ years worth of damage done from friends, family members and, ultimately, society’s stance on beauty standards. This one candid snapshot had triggered my inner middle-schooler. All my healthy perspective and confidence I had worked so hard to achieve had flown the coop.
This thinking followed me for days after “Butterball-Gate” happened, but eventually my more confident voice was coming back to the forefront, pushing mean girl recording to the back. Still, I couldn’t ignore the truth. Mean girl’s insecure voice is still there. Just because she mainly stays in the back of my head 99% of the time doesn’t mean I am all healed up from my past humiliations and insecurities. That voice is the 1%. We all know how evil the 1% is. Still seeking clarity, I decided to go work out. I took a pretty intense bootcamp class — can I just take a moment to praise the Lord for endorphins?
My endorphins were really good to me that day! An hour later, my headspace was in a MUCH better place. My 99 endorphins squashed my 1 mean girl voice. Just like that. Sweaty, red faced and frizzy haired, I looked down at my camera phone and took a shameless selfie with a message straight from my heart:
Wow the power of social media! I received so much love and support for putting up that selfie! Most importantly, I received many other messages from other women (and some men) who told me they can relate to exactly how I felt. We get so used to seeing mainly positive, upbeat posts throughout social media– sometimes it can tend to feel ostracizing, in thinking hardly anyone you know is going through anything negative. But it’s not true. We all go through our own personal things and it’s up to us on how we want to share them.
From being open, honest and RAW, two wonderful industry related things happened:
- I was featured in female empowerment online magazine Bustle along with 57 other fierce women featuring our shameless selfies. I’m #53!
- I’m starring in a fantastic body image positivity PSA commercial that is part of a large campaign dealing with body, ethnic and age acceptance. This is a sneak peek shot of me from set.
Share your worth.
The world is listening.