Today I'm feeling really inspired by Essena O'Neill. Who is that, you ask? I didn't know either (although apparently hundreds of thousands did) until a few days ago when this link came up on my Facebook news feed. Essena is a teen Instagram star who seemingly lives a completely perfect life - gorgeous, young, fashionable, popular, living in a beautiful part of the world - but she recently announced (unsurprisingly) that not everything is as it seems. Her flawless pictures, she says, are heavily filtered and posed and some were taken over a hundred times before she found one she liked. Essena stated in a video that she is miserable living her fake life and that, in order to find herself, she's quitting social media.

The more I read about Essena, the more of myself I saw in her. I know what it's like to want to keep up a front of perfection. One of my favorite compliments I've ever received was when my friend told me that my life reminds her of Pinterest. I was so happy when she said that; I covet everything organized, girly, and classy. I admire the Amanda Brookses of the world and their picture-perfect lives and I get anxious when things in my own life fall short. I've never posted my own pictures on my blog and I don't even have an Instagram because my pictures don't measure up to the perfectly-styled ones I find on Pinterest and on the other blogs I follow.

How superficial is that? It's so easy to get caught up in how aesthetically beautiful things are on Pinterest, on Instagram, in the pages of Town & Country, and on the blogs of the young and glamorous, but deep down I know better than to believe any of it is real. I love when blogs I follow go "behind the scenes" and show the different camera lenses and backdrops and engineered lighting they use to take simple pictures of lipstick because it reminds me that no one is effortlessly perfect, so why should I try to be?

I don't ever want you, my readers, to think that I'm sugarcoating anything, or trying to present myself as anything I'm not. I'm twenty-two and have a job that barely pays. I live with roommates I don't like and spend about 70% of my time in pajamas. I can't drink out of a cup without spilling on myself. Sometimes I eat candy for dinner because I'm too lazy to cook. My car got towed yesterday. I don't live a glamorous life at all and I don't want to pretend that I do.

My new primary goal for braid&butter is to be completely authentic. I'm going to start posting pictures that don't have perfect lighting or pro-level styling. I would rather be real and relatable than fake and enviable any day, and I'm going to start trying to find my true, authentic voice - not just on my blog, but in my life as well.

I love y'all. I hope you love braid&butter too, flaws and all.


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