Do you ever feel like there’s a disconnect between the way self-care ads look and how they are in reality? Flawless women lounging in perfectly lit oversized tubs (in immaculately clean bathrooms, of course)… a dainty yet sensuous bite of a delectable chocolate… perfect posture in a meditation or yoga pose at sunset… while these may be your #selfcaregoals, don’t let these curated moments of perfection deter you from taking care of yourself every damn day.
Sometimes it feels like social media images of self-care are the new Cosmo cover ~ highly curated, expertly airbrushed, and nowhere near reality for most of us. I recently posted this comparison image on Instagram as a joke – because I thought it would be funny to take a pic of myself just before a massage started. So… yeah, that really is me there on the right. And what I saw when I looked at the picture really just made me laugh out loud at the absurdity of it all. I mean, I get it – which image would make you actually WANT to book a massage? The one on the left, correct?
But look at the guy’s hands in that image – he’s wearing a button-down shirt?! Never in my life have I received a massage from anyone dressed for a corporate gig. They’re usually dressed in all black, or wearing a t-shirt and yoga pants. Can you imagine how gross the shirt sleeves would be if they were handling massage oil in a woven long-sleeve button-down? It’s laughable, really. And how could any massage really work those neck and back muscles if your head was turned to the side and resting on your hand? The image on the left is posed and contrived. And that’s OK – as long as we remember the purpose of that image is MARKETING, it’s not supposed to look like REALITY.
The image on the right, while hilarious and far less sophisticated, is REALITY and would therefore not be a good fit for MARKETING purposes. When you’re scrolling images online, just remember to keep things in perspective, and avoid the tendency to compare and despair.
When you see flawless women lounging in perfectly lit oversized tubs (in immaculately clean bathrooms, of course), don’t berate yourself if you’ve got a few love handles or a ring around the tub. It’s your body, so love it. It’s your bathtub in your bathroom in your home, and a soak in your perfectly imperfect tub sure beats showering at the gym… or at a homeless shelter.
When you see the glossy magazine image of perfect lips taking a dainty yet sensuous bite of a delectable chocolate, remember that the purpose of that image is to SELL MORE CHOCOLATE. And maybe the takeaway for you is to slow down and enjoy life today, or indulge yourself, or treat yourself kindly, or buy really good quality chocolate. The reality of eating chocolate (especially the kind that requires biting into) is that little flakes of chocolate wind up on your face, your shirt, and your lap. When this happens, don’t fixate on the little brown stain on your favorite white top… instead, remember how good it feels to slow down, enjoy life, appreciate yourself, and indulge a bit.
And when you see the social media image of a woman with perfect posture in a meditation or yoga pose at sunset… remember that most people are doing yoga in a studio, or on a mat in a little corner of their bedroom or living room. That is the reality of yoga. It’s not about how it looks, it’s all about the breath and the mind-body connection through the breath. In order to get that perfect meditation sunset shot, they likely spent an hour or more setting up, framing the shot, picking out what she would wear, doing her hair, holding the damn pose for what felt like an eternity, and then waiting for the sun to be in just the right spot for this perfect image… and during all of that time, NO ONE was actually enjoying the sunset. When you see these images, let them remind you of YOUR goals, without comparing yourself to their goals. For example, your goal might be to get the perfect snapshot for your Instagram… or your goal might be to enjoy a beautiful sunset while being fully present… or your goal might be to connect more with your body by doing yoga more often.
There’s no right or wrong here, it’s really just about understanding what you want and staying focused on moving toward that, rather than comparing your reality to someone else’s highly edited highlight.