Is my headshot a gigantic lie?

Like most people who use LinkedIn or have a professional presence, I had a professional headshot taken two years ago. While the photo is beautiful and I love it for a million reasons, I struggle with whether or not I'm being honest by having this photo out in the world as a representation of me.

Like I said, I love the photo. My skin is flawless and supple. My make-up in on point. My hair is perfect. My teeth are super white. My eyes sparkle. I look stunning. What's not to love?

Well?

I don't look like the woman in this photo.

The woman in the photo has not one wrinkle, freckle, or blemish. She has perfect eyebrows, high cheekbones, and a cute nose.

In real life, my skin is good. Most of the time. I have rosacea, so there are days when my skin is dry, red, and has some breakouts. (Side note: What the hell? I'm almost 46! Why do I still have acne?) Yes, makeup can cover it up, but nothing covers it up perfectly.

I have relatively few wrinkles, but I'm grateful and proud of the laugh lines and crows feet. They've all been well-earned by living my life. Living all of my life, the good and the bad. I view them as proof that I have life experience that only comes through being 46 or 56 or 66 or 86 or 106.

My hair isn't always perfect. Actually, the thick head of hair I had for so many years has become baby fine. My teeth are fine, but not blinding white because I drink too much caffeine.

I recall someone saying, "she's gorgeous, but she looks NOTHING like her headshot" about a woman I know professionally. Like me, her headshot had been lightly retouched to erase imperfections. Is it better to use a headshot that shows our real selves, crows feet and all, or to have a photo that makes us look flawless and youthful?

I recognize that it's important to put my best self out there, especially when searching for a job or a spouse. But when did the image of my best self become someone who can't show up on a date or a job interview because she doesn't exist except in exquisitely retouched photos? Isn't my real authentic self my best self?

I don't know what the correct answer is, but I'm feeling like maybe it's time to let my headshot show off the real me. What do you think?

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    Jessica Gardner

    A native of Chicago's Northwest Suburbs and resident of the North Shore, Little Merry Sunshine comes by her name honestly. The story goes that as a child, she was always so happy that she even slept with a smile on her face. Her mom nicknamed her Little Merry Sunshine. It stuck, along with her insatiable desire to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than she found it. She does this by sharing her passions and dreams, what inspires her, and maybe you too, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. You can reach her at LittleMerrySunshineCN[at]WowWay[dot]com.

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