This trite advice written in flowy script adorned with flowers is plastered everywhere.
“Be Authentic” & “Just Be Yourself”
It has always rubbed me the wrong way for several reasons:
1. It’s been weaponized against me. “Hey I am just being myself!” When someone was being hurtful.
2. I haven’t always know who I was. We all go through identity crisis and this statement can be even more pressure to “figure things out already.”
3. It implies that I have been intentionally dishonest in my representation so far.
4. The most likely is because I always envision the addition of “…Except…”
I can almost hear people think “Be yourself, except if you are ___________” (Gay, Black, Fat, Mexican…)
And then it gets dangerous. And I am not being overly dramatic here.
How often do you hear someone say “All you have to do is be authentic! If you just be yourself then all your problems are solved!”
Often given as well meaning advice for people who are camera shy, worried about starting a business, looking for input on a creation or project or anything vulnerable.
But what if “your authentic self” is not accepted in society? Or stands out as “too much”? Or doesn’t fit the stereotype of the community or profession?
Then the trolls descend en masse. Ridiculing, threatening, belittling. Even killing those who are simply trying to “Be Themselves”.
During Pride month I have watched countless creators on social media and the world be bombarded with hate. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community are simply trying to live their authentic life.
They aren’t hurting people, they aren’t taking away rights, they aren’t evil.
To me it looks like they are looking to have loving adult relationships, wear clothes that make them comfortable, and be able to express themselves.
These are my children, my siblings, my friends and my clients. They are your children and family and community members.
Or maybe it is you reading this right now.
I don’t have any trite advice to give, no blanket statement for society, no magic fix for the injustice and ugly side of “Be Authentic” BS.
Not be Captain Obvious here but of course I want people to live their full, authentic life! I don’t want anyone to live in a closet or a life that is completely miserable.
What my heart desires is for everyone to be embraced. WE (society and individuals) need to change. WE need to be accepting. WE need to be kind.
Until society as a whole get’s the message I want you to know that I see you, you are valid, and I will always have a safe space for you in my studio and in my home and in my heart.
Happy Pride ❤