How Bad Lighting Destroys Self Confidence

I’m at the hair salon as I type, waiting for my color to set in. I had an early appointment and completely underestimated how long it would take me to get here. I slept very little last night for reasons that will make for another post. I didn’t allow for rush hour traffic, because I’ve been in summer oblivion. So, I raced here, a hotter mess than usual, threw some clumpy mascara on in the car, and now sit in front of a full length mirror, in day lighting, trying to avoid the reflection before me. I look like I’m 85. I am not feeling great about myself.

It occurs to me, we always see ourselves in bad lighting. From the bathroom vanity in the early morning, to the compact where we examine the size of our pores, to the very worst, the rear view mirror in midday. We see everyone else in good lighting, or at least, if the lighting is bad, we see them after they have had a chance to pull themselves together … unless they are our closest friends, who we only see as still young and beautiful, always. We are human. We compare. We cannot help it.

To add insult to injury, on top of all the cosmetic and surgical options available to make us look better in person, we now view everyone through filters, after multiple takes, after touch ups and cropping. Our social media friends always look effortlessly beautiful … and then, whoa, there it is! I looked up again. Reality bites. Damn, it would be nice if someone dimmed the lights in here and offered me some wine. Vampires must feel so good about themselves all the time.

As much as intellectually we know photos are deceptive, and botox is an unfair advantage, emotionally, it can be hard when our image in the mirror looks 10 years older than the pictures of friends on Facebook. Next time you are feeling that self-criticism creep in, either turn down the lights, light a candle and look again … from a respectable distance, or take a look at your own filtered, tuned-up photos and realize beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder, it is in the level of expertise with photoshop. Also, laugh. A real smile is the best face lift, and ain’t none of us gettin’ any younger.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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