How do you feel about visibility and technology? How comfortable are you with being seen? Do you like having your photo taken? Do you turn your camera on for video calls?
Or do you prefer to be heard and not seen?
Chances are if you are reading this you probably don’t like being seen. And if so, you are not alone. A great many women – and men for that matter – squirm over the idea of allowing themselves to be visible in terms of photos and videos.
Personally, visibility in this space was an area I struggled with for many years. It might surprise you to learn that for years, I avoided cameras like it was my job. This was despite the fact that my husband is a fairly decent amateur photographer.
But if you follow me on my French inspired Instagram account Distant Francophile, you’ll know that things have come a long way. These days, I can post a photo of myself every single day that we’re travelling to demonstrate the sort of travel outfits you can fit in a carry on size bag. Do I always like what I see in the pictures? No. In fact, there’s usually something I’d be happy to change. However, I’ve become far more accepting of myself and how I present to the world. And as a result, I am way more comfortable with being visible.
Which begs the question. How do you become more comfortable with visibility when it comes to photos and video? Here are some tips that worked for me.
Getting comfortable with visibility and technology
1. Think of things objectively
It was a colleague who originally gave me a different way to think about visibility and technology. He asked one of my (male) team members – who was reluctant to turn on his camera in web meeting – whether he would place a bag on his head prior to walking into a face-to-face meeting. My team member answered ‘no’ and everyone laughed and participated in the meeting with their cameras turned on. While many women don’t necessarily like showing up face-to-face either – whether that be in corporate setting or in a mum’s group – they rarely stop themselves.
And so it should be with visibility and technology. If you’d show up face-to-face then you can show up in pictures or on video. Avoid looking at yourself at first if you have to, but eventually you’ll become more comfortable with seeing your self in the digital environment.
Oh, and here’s a little trick about video. The reason it looks wrong to you is that you are seeing a different view of yourself than you are used to seeing in the mirror. This can be jarring and is what leads to the idea that you thought you looked different when you left the house. The more used to seeing yourself on video, the more comfortable you will become with the image you see.
2. Like anything, practice makes perfect
Set yourself a challenge. Perhaps (like me) you could post a photo of yourself on social media every day for a month or two. Or you set yourself a goal to turn your video on for every call you make this week. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you can measure. Create an appropriate reward for yourself for hitting your goal and just start. The more you allow yourself to be visible the less sensitive you will feel about the practice.
3. Pay attention to your grooming
If catching a glimpse of yourself causes discomfort, it is worth ensuring that you are happy with the way you are presenting yourself to the world. Some might say this takes a superficial view, but I have to disagree. I’ve had so many women tell me that they feel better on camera when they are comfortable with how they’ve put themselves together. And some big names also advocate the practice. So it makes sense to spend some time on yourself if it is going to allow you to show up and be more at ease with visibility. Don’t save the extra few minutes on yourself for special occasions only. Let it become a part of your everyday routine. It’s also the true essence of looking good for yourself and no-one else.
Do you have any tips that helped you become more comfortable with visibility and technology? I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Janelle, this arrived just as I finished reading an article in L’Express called « How social media pushes young people to plastic surgery ». This is all such a minefield, isn’t it? There was a time, not so very long ago in terms of human history, when even mirrors did not exist. Now we are literally bombarded with our own likeness. Video conferencing can be a marvelous tool (but lighting and camera angle can be terrifyingly unflattering, no matter how much preparation goes before!) but articles such as the one in l’Express underscore the dark side of seeing oneself in the context of social media. (Having said that, I am fascinated and amazed by your multiplicity of outfits from the small wardrobe you brought to France!)
You raise an excellent point – as always – Alisa. I think the word minefield describes it perfectly. While our young people have to grow up in a world that put physical pressure on them, some of us who are a little older are absolutely limiting themselves and their success because of their reluctance to be seen. I really believe these are the sorts of conversations we need to be having as we move into this space where technology and visibility will go hand in hand.