I Hate Taking Selfies

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Both of my parents used to put me in front of cameras all the time, which largely explains why I am so comfortable in front of them. I am very much at ease before a still camera, and am usually fine in front of a moving one, even if I have to improvise or read cold. I have never really shied away from the camera lens like some people tend to do, and am usually happy to join in a group picture when asked to do so.

All bets are off when I have to take a selfie. I have stubbornly remained on the Android boat and refuse to cross over to the iPhone world, and as a result I have to deal with a camera which, quite frankly, sucks, especially when in selfie mode. I have an oval face, but my phone camera wants to make me look like I have a long, weird horse face! My phone camera is also completely incapable of capturing ideal lighting conditions. Since I want people to see me in my natural, everyday state, and am very reluctant to use filters on my social media posts, I realize that many of my social media posts which feature a selfie don’t exactly make me look my best.

As if that wasn’t enough to discourage me from taking selfies, I also don’t enjoy the process of looking at myself and trying to line up a picture. When someone else is photographing or filming me, I allow myself to relax and trust the person who is capturing my likeness. When I take selfies with my phone, I become easily and quickly bored with the activity. It’s not like me to spend massive amounts of time in front of a mirror, fussing and primping, so I certainly don’t enjoy spending additional time taking pictures of myself.

Here’s my M.O. for taking selfies: I think of a good setup for the shot, then I take between two and eight selfies. I know you selfie experts are probably horrified by the paltry amount of selfies I take, and are ready to tell me, “No wonder you don’t get good selfies!” I know that the most dedicated Instagram selfie takers will often take over a hundred versions of a selfie and sift through them to find the most flattering images, but I don’t have that kind of time!

I have spoken with branding people who say that it is worth taking time to snap the perfect selfie, but I have careers and a life outside of social media, and in that real world, time is money. If I don’t get my work done, I don’t get paid. And no one will have sympathy for me if I tell them I need a couple of hours each day to take the perfect batch of selfies. Since I also apply a five-minute face each day (concealer, brow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, blush, translucent powder and lipstick…NO foundation, bronzer, eyeshadow, lipgloss for my daily look!), I am not prepping for selfies all the time.

Who else out there hates taking selfies? IMAG0893

When People Are Full Of Hate

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One of the hazards of posting on social media is that you run the risk of catching the attention of complete sociopaths who seem to have nothing better to do than to spread hate by posting negative comments on other people’s posts. I was utterly shocked to see a very negative comment added onto a Tweet I posted just now. It was ugly and mean-spirited, and it definitely hurt me to my core. The gist of the comment was that I was a dime a dozen, and will never win anything (hmmm, good to know). This was posted by a guy who had the look of a sociopath in his soulless eyes. I briefly scanned his profile before blocking him, and noticed that EVERY single Tweet he had (I scanned about ten posts down) was hateful and negative.

It truly blows my mind that a jerk like the guy I had to block would exert such an effort to spread negative energy. I have no desire to fend off creeps like this, so I block them immediately. They are loose cannons who look for victims to cyberbully, and there is no way to predict how far they will take their hatred. I will not tolerate such energy and always automatically block them, and if they are especially nasty or threatening, I will file an official report of abuse. I realize that I am more susceptible to such contentious people because I have built a name for myself and I put myself out there constantly, but it is not fair to blast me when my posts are primarily meant to inspire my fans and followers and entertain friends. The fact that some people go out of their way to be mean and to spread hate is mind-boggling to me. I begin to wonder what kind of karmic load they are carrying to spread so much negativity.

What is the best way to defuse hostility? It is always best to refrain from reacting to it. Physically walking away, ignoring hateful statements, employing the blocking feature on social media sites, email, and cell phones, smiling at the person who is being difficult can all work in neutralizing the bad energy.

Ignore The Haters!

Originally published on RxGirl on Wednesday, 18 September 2013

http://www.rxmuscle.com/rx-girl-articles/9306-ignore-the-haters.html
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Many of you ladies are well acquainted with the rigors of contest prep and understand the level of intensity and commitment required. Some of you are fortunate enough to have a great support network in which partners, family, coworkers and friends are in your cheering section and encourage all of your efforts. Unfortunately, however, some competitors may have to deal with people who discourage them or in some fashion try to interfere with their prep. I have heard husbands complain that their wives spend too much time in the gym or cannot eat restaurant meals with them. A few of my clients have lamented that family members or friends actually got angry with them for training so hard or for being so driven. The less the hater knows about the world of bodybuilding, the harsher the criticism becomes, usually as a result of ignorance and the perpetuation of erroneous stereotypes about bodybuilding.
I once had a client who almost talked herself out of competing as a reaction to her ultra-conservative mother’s opinion of bodybuilding contests. Her mother was horrified by the idea that women actually got onstage in bikinis and was deeply resistant to the idea of her daughter doing such a thing. It did not matter that her daughter was in her 30’s with children of her own. What was so sad was that everyone else in my client’s life was supportive and encouraging. For once this woman was paying attention to herself instead of doling out her energy to her spouse, children and parents, and it met with resistance.

Another frequent complaint, and one which I have heard personally, is one in which the loved one bitches about how stupid it seems to chase after a national qualification, IFBB Pro Card or Olympia qualification. Those who do not compete cannot fully appreciate the reasons competitors have to reach for that carrot. The drive is deep and in most cases incredibly personal. There is no question that competing can be extremely expensive, and it can be very frustrating to deal with less than stellar placings which push us to do more contests in order to reach our goals. It is also true that the allure of a Pro Card can fool some competitors into thinking that attaining Pro status will deliver much more than acceptance into the prestigious IFBB ranks (such as supplement company contracts, magazine covers, etc.). However, if you are realistic and are pursuing the next level of achievement for your own personal reasons, then declare that when someone tries to criticize you. My advice is to dig your heels in and fight for your right to do something that is inspiring and empowering.
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You may have people in your life who believe that you are getting too ripped and muscular. Invariably the people who make such remarks are not weightlifters, so they do not understand the mentality of those who lift and thus are not comfortable with the idea of building and sculpting muscle. If you are in a bulking phase, your appearance can be especially jarring for those who do not appreciate muscle, and the negative comments are likely to increase in frequency. It’s no surprise that those of us who compete tend to hang out with other lifters in an effort to be surrounded by like-minded individuals who can relate to what we go through and who won’t fling negative comments about our muscularity or vascularity our way.

Perhaps you only deal with minimal criticism but still have trouble processing it. I know that the majority of you who compete have been in situations where family, friends or coworkers have tried to convince you to abandon your strict meal plan, telling you that “just this once” won’t hurt you. They may even resort to accusing you of being a stick in the mud for not caving into peer pressure. It is at times like these that you need to remind yourself of your goals and that adherence to your meal plan is an insurance plan to being on point when contest day arrives. You know that every time you fall off the wagon, so to speak, you jeopardize everything you have spent the past few weeks or months to build. Why do yourself such a disservice only to appease others? Do not bother yourself with what they think, because it is not worth it.
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Consider the reasons why you compete and what kind of satisfaction you get from competing. Are you really going to let the people in your life drag you down and criticize you for doing something that you enjoy? Remember that your journey is not only about physical transformation, it is also spiritual. You are all grown women with minds of your own, so STAND YOUR GROUND!

Social Media: A Double-Edged Sword

Originally published on mensphysique.com on Monday, 02 December 2013

http://www.rxmuscle.com/blogs/the-business-fitness-modeling-and-showbiz/9773-social-media-a-double-edged-sword.html
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If you are serious about competing and want to build a career in the fitness industry then you have probably been exploring the various social media platforms and trying to build your name and brand. Of course, you want to push for the most followers you can get, as well as build a fan base which boosts your credibility in the eyes of supplement companies. As your numbers grow, your name will become more well-known and you can claim – without bluffing – that you have inspired thousands of people.

However, with more followers come more problems, most commonly the jerks and the haters. I heard an interesting comment from one of my friends today, which was: “The more successful you are, the more haters you have.” I have to admit that whenever I have to deal with a hater, I am rattled by such energy and will never understand how people can go out of their way to spread negativity. I guess you can’t please everyone, and of course there are going to be those who are jealous of your physique and your success. This is when the blocking feature on numerous social platforms can and should be employed. Don’t bother trying to appease such spiritual leeches. They are not worth the trouble.

Some fans and followers (thank goodness, it is the exception and not the rule) develop a distorted perspective in which they believe that they are connected or bonded to the fitness personalities they are interested in. This quickly turns into an obsession, with the fan holding onto a sense of entitlement which can be dangerous. If such a fan feels disregarded, a cascade of psychotic behavior can ensue.

Another dangerous and disturbing situation found in social media circles is the impostor syndrome. There are individuals out there who may claim to be you, and will use your likeness, your name and your titles to build fake profiles. I am sure you have worked your ass off to get to where you are now, so it is time to do due diligence and make sure that no one is taking your good name and wearing it. The small bit of flattery which may be at play is completely eclipsed by the creepiness and the invasion of pretending to be someone else.

Thankfully, the vast majority of people are level-headed and rational. However, as your numbers grow, you must be aware of the issues which may arise and take measures to protect your name and reputation in the industry.

Success As Measured By Social Media

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While I am grateful for the boost in exposure and the public following I have built as a result of social media, I believe that for many people, social media channels are arbitrary and false measures of success. I will never believe that someone who builds a huge following on Instagram with a gallery of scantily clad selfies has anything to offer the world except spank-bank material. I also want no part of popularity contests which simply look at the number of followers in determining the value of an athlete, and I am bothered by the idea that my knowledge carries less power than the number of bikini images I have shot over the years. I see that several fitness personalities have built their names almost exclusively on sexy selfies, and truly wonder where they will be after people get tired of just seeing hot pics and no intellectual substance to fall back upon. I honestly think that unless they begin working on their intellectual legacy, no one will remember or care about them in ten years.

Another thing which social media platforms do is that they provide a lottery chance for just about anyone to get his or her 15 minutes of fame. It can be hard to predict what might pass the tipping point and go viral, but when it does, an overnight sensation is often created. The usual prerequisite of talent has been washed away by a jaded, overstimulated society which simply wants to see something different, weird, trashy or disturbing. At the risk of completely offending a certain prominent family, I will boldly state that I think it is entirely unfair that the Kardashian family has basked in the fruits of notoriety and increased wealth simply because they were willing to showcase their affluent, dysfunctional, entitled family dynamics for the world to see. As a strange bonus, the world has been subjected to a full-figured, sexually liberated, narcissistic big sister who derives great joy from slathering her ovoid form with Crisco and posting selfies that scream “It’s all about me”, and certainly not in a way which inspires others. What is so mind-blowing is that this family is globally famous, despite the fact that they fall into the “talentless hack” category.

Even as I write this post, I hope to get a lot of views and likes, and wouldn’t mind if it went viral. However, because this post reveals coherent thoughts rather than what kind of underwear I have on right now, I know that it has less of a chance of sparking interest and reactions in a society which is still very visual and dumbed down by the sexual overtones which drive advertising.

Keep It Classy

I cannot understand why some young women resort to branding themselves by posting downright SLUTTY photos of themselves on social media channels. I have had disputes with people who have told me that posting those types of images is necessary if someone wants to build a huge following. What, pray tell, kind of following can one expect to build when the images which are posted regularly fall into the soft porn category? No one with a brain and staying power would ever seriously consider riding the wave of recognition primarily via bare-assed, here-I-am-in-my-underwear, bent over, come hither slut photos on social media channels on a consistent basis. Some girls will go even further and take selfies or professional shots which mimic the vantage point of a man doing certain unmentionable things to her. These women degrade themselves every single time they post these images, and they support the objectification of women which has kept the female gender from being taken completely seriously.

I am by no means saying that sexy photos aren’t acceptable. But it is definitely possible to be incredibly sexy without giving off that “I know you wanna do me” vibe. Young ladies who really want to have longevity in the fitness or modeling industry should post images which they won’t be embarrassed to show their children or grandchildren. I still don’t get why it has become so common for a hot woman (and even some men do this which irritates me too) to stand at her bathroom mirror in tiny panties and a bra (or sometimes just a forearm draped over naked breasts), strike a provocative pose, snap a selfie and post it for the world to see. I bet in five or ten years that most of these ladies will be struggling with the realization that they can’t take any of that back.

Please don’t think that I am a prude, because I am not. I also don’t have a problem with professional photos in lingerie. Heck, some lingerie is cut more generously than some bikinis, so I am not picking on the attire. It’s the combination of wardrobe selection (or lack thereof) with slutty, classless poses which has me taking issue. What can a red-blooded male do when he sees blatant tits-in-your-face pics with a facial expression that is usually only seen behind closed doors? It’s not the smartest thing to seduce hundreds or thousands of men that way, especially when you don’t know how many of those so-called admirers are mentally unstable. Keep in mind that with every social media post, you are building a foundation. Do you want to be known as the hot chick who always shows her goodies or as a strong and beautiful woman with substance?

Keeping Up With Social Media Posts

SelfieSocial media avenues give people the opportunity to network, build business, increase exposure and connect with others all over the world. They are excellent tools for people who are trying to become the next big thing. But I have to file a grievance…if I had all the time in a day to post selfies and inspirational posts, I would, but because I have a career outside of fitness, I simply do not have that luxury. Numerous people have told me that I need to be more aggressive about posting pertinent items on social media channels, but they don’t realize that I am overwhelmed by what I have on my plate. I manage all three websites I have established, as well as my blog site, Twitter, Instagram, and three Facebook pages. Add to that my work schedule, photo shoots, video shoots, writing projects, training clients, food prep, etc., and I have little time to take alluring pics of myself all day. When I do take selfies at the gym or at work, people think I am being vain. So I am hit from both sides. Either I am not being aggressive enough, or I am self-absorbed. Pretty frustrating.

I also have to admit that I have a crappy camera on my phone which refuses to deliver consistently great images. I get so tired of having the wrong angle, poor lighting, or having a reach that is insufficient. Apparently, the teens and 20-somethings seem to have figured out all the best camera phone angles, and spend considerable pockets of time cropping, adding films and effects, text, borders, etc. to make their posts incredibly eye-catching. I have to admit that I am a bit envious of such skill. What cracks me up is that I have recently seen articles in major women’s fashion magazines on how to take a good selfie, indicating how much this phenomenon has become a common means of connecting with the world.

It’s pretty funny how some haters actually give ME a hard time about taking ANY time to snap selfies, often scolding me and telling me to “get back to work” or “be productive”. I guess if you’re over a certain age or if you are a career professional you aren’t allowed to avail yourself of social media avenues and post selfies? I may not be the best at it, nor do I have a ton of time to perfect the images I post, but I will do what I can to stay current and connect with the world while also honoring my responsibilities outside of cyberworld.