I had an art therapist tell me one time that there are no accidents in art. I took this photo as part of an “unrealistic expectations” series only to discover that this is so much more. I am a social worker and a professional photographer, two areas I’ve been spending quite some time figuring out a way to combine. But the truth is, I spend half of my time making everything look aesthetically beautiful and the other half embracing the ugly. There is no air brushing in real life. We aren’t here to take away the ugly, we’re here to look beyond it. In a world where photographers are a dime a dozen, we spend so much time making the ordinary look extraordinary. We want people to look at our work and say “wow”, we want to stand out. What’s extraordinary about flawed skin? If you can’t photoshop an average person into something beautiful, what business do you have charging for images? When I opened up this image, without thinking twice, I headed straight for the problem areas on my face to make them disappear. I had to stop myself and really think about what was happening here. I cared more about a flawless image than I did about the meaning behind it. I get so caught up in making things beautiful that I forget that we all have our flaws, we all have our demons, and the only way to get past that is to face them. I’m afraid I’ve lost a piece of my artistic self to the expectations of people I’ve never even met because I’m afraid to step away from what the majority perceives as beautiful. For me, this image is a reminder of that; that the real me is still there, and it’s okay to let that real side of me show.