The Story Behind the Picture

I worry sometimes that this media sensationalized, ideal sense of “perfection” is vitally harming the younger generations. “Perfection” is a feeling, not an image. Feeling everything is going “perfectly” etc. But, we live in a materialistic, superficial world- where we are innately taught to perceive ourselves by our struggles or shortcomings, instead of searching for our gifts.

We all have special gifts, and I hope our new growing generation learns to see beneath the surface enough to notice that in each other. It’s not that everyone is the same and everyone deserves a trophy (and that whole plethora of an argument), it’s more about appreciating differences and learning to seek the gift of individuality. There’s a BIG difference. Our kids are being raised in a global, e-commerce, social media driven, multicultural world. We need to stay current with the changing world when raising kids today, in order to protect them. The world is much different than it was even 20 years ago, and older means of protection are no longer enough.
One of my favorite classes in college was art history. There were some famous photographs of the Great Depression that really made an impression on me and grew my perspective of captured images.  Dorothea Lange, a widely known pictorial artist, captured some images that, by simply viewing the images, you were pulled into the emotions of the story–caught just by an unstaged image. I learned to appreciate the candid, organic photography that told the honest unspoken story captured in images, versus seeing a posed image which, in my opinion, tells the least truth of the story.
 Here’s some of her work…

 Trying to keep a home clean with a dirt floor.

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I can see, and feel, her concerns for her children and their families future. Yet, her kids trust her and love her unconditionally. The famous picture is extremely powerful.
We live in an ever-changing technology age. Everyone has access to everyone, and is smiling pretty for the camera! We’ve all mastered the art of our social media self image, but what about our real one? We’ve all artfully and meticulously organized feeds that tell the usual story of a perfect life. Once in a while, we see raw truths which are usually unwelcomed-and get negative responses. “Be thankful, stay positive” we hear. But, in my humble opinion I think life is all about up’s AND downs. Keep your eye on the prize (prize being your dreams) is a more accurate response, I feel. How can we be truly grateful for the good things, if we don’t acknowledge the hard times?
Most people don’t want to know when things aren’t well, aren’t pretty, or there’s anything unjust happening that they could help change. Instead, people prefer the staged everything looks so amazing and happy look. But, underneath the smiles and matching family outfits, there’s a more interesting, raw, and realistic story that isn’t being told enough. It’s because of this, I think our kids are potentially learning an unrealistic version of self image and self accountability. Lacking work ethic, responsibility, and a morphed value system that lacks humility. Instead of complaining about “these kids today”- let’s take some accountability in our parenting methodologies to reverse the cycle!
We are all labeled, beyond the basic race and geography labeling in today’s sociological climate. For instance, I’m a wife, mother, homeschool mom, food allergy mom, and not a local (therefore an outsider) on the island I live on now. Nowhere in my labeling is me. Just humble, plain & simple me. I’m ok with that for now, but it is a notable observation. Like, to know me is simply to know my labels only.  My interests, accolades, jobs– they’re all lost and hidden behind the label people need to put on me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the many hats I wear! But, know that they are only a fraction of who I am, and any assumptions to the contrary  only prove my point of superficiality even further.
The journalist in me notices these things. Every time I see a big smiling family image, I wonder what’s really happening in the frames just before the “money shot”. That’s because life is messy, unorganized, there are serious illnesses, disabilities, deep struggles –and there’s always a bigger story. Only if people would take the time to really get to know each other. But, this version of “perfection” begs to tell the untruths. And strongly presses labels where they don’t always fit. A great example is reality TV! It’s real, but jaded and only showing the small portion of lives that interesting and sells the picture!
The conclusion is that happy sells and true hardships (which are the building blocks of character building) are ignored. That is unless someone can (with little effort) turn the theme of a story to a happy one. In one of my labels, Food Allergy Mom, I’ve noticed far more people turn their backs to our families needs, than that of people stepping in to accommodate and create an inclusive life experience for my daughter. The positive is that I’m very aware of who is safe to be around- and who is impossible to be around.
So, my final thoughts are that I have a great responsibility to my kids! I need to expose them to the world and teach them how to acclimate to change, language barriers etc. with a food allergy. They need to learn to overcome obstacles, not shy away from the extra work involved.  I need to teach them to find their individual gifts and to fly!!! We need to find a way to create, and find, safety outside of our 4 walls– while living with this food allergy. It’s not going to be easy, but teaching “how to” is the best gift I could ever give.
A picture can speak a thousand words…
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Excluded from the park that was, subsequently, covered in kids running around with Gogurts! I noticed pretty immediately and she had already developed a pretty intense reaction. Public parks and facilities never quite were the same again.
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Eating her 1st processed soy cheese slice!!!! What a way to learn of her allergy!
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Sitting on a park bench did this! Now, we know to wipe down everywhere AND wear long leggings.
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Snuggling up with a family member wearing milk in their skincare did this.
We cannot hide away, unknowingly shaming them over their circumstances– like the general public would have me do. Homeschooling is our only option, but still yet–a gift. It’s not a punishment (as most people remind me of how they could never do it .) A custom designed learning mechanism that caters to kids individual learning styles and interests is bad? It’s trying at times, but an amazing and rewarding gift. That’s nothing to feel sorry for.
I believe everything has a purpose. Everyone we meet carries purpose, every experience, every high, every struggle we’re forced to figure out how to overcome. It all adds up to make us who we are, how we handle stress and express ourselves, and how far we will push ourselves toward our calling(s). Each purposeful moment we encounter defines how strong we become. How unstoppable– because if we can overcome basic human needs that are extremely difficult (ex. living with a severe food allergy), than reaching for dreams is a cake walk in comparison. Hard work is a gift to those who struggle just to exist.
I’m proud I have 2 very different girls who are, like myself,  perfectly flawed yet humble, blind to discrimination, and believe they can do ANYTHING!! I’m consciously aware that I’m showing them, through my own struggles, how to pick yourself up over and over again always seeking the fulfillment of dreams that never die or go away. That’s my “label” for now. I hope that in my pictures people can see our strength, because we are, together, mighty.
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food allergy awareness

Lisa Ficke is a Hello Mamas Influencer, guest writer, and President of FARM, Food Allergy Resources and Mentoring. Follow Lisa on her Blog, Facebook and Twitter! Want to hear more on becoming an Influencer? Contact us! To meet fellow local food allergy mom friends, visit HelloMamas.com 

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