Behind the beauty

You see the photograph on your social media feed. She had time to make her own bread? She had time to plait it? She had time to obnoxiously stage the braid, AND post the picture? You do one of 3 things:

  1. Keep on scrolling, indifferent to the landscape of curated aesthetics.
  2. Secretly judge her, perhaps you’ve already narrated a competition with her in your head. “Must be nice to stay home all day baking bread.” “It actually doesn’t even look that good.” “What is she trying to prove?” Catch the bread pun?
  3. You take your feelings inward. You see the photo as a direct hit to your low self worth. You begin to feel less than for having not baked bread before. Or maybe it isn’t about the bread at all, is it? Look at her tablescape, I wish I had a home like hers. Look at her family, they always seem so happy and perfect…

Look, sometimes a picture of bread is just a picture of bread. I don’t want to overdramatize every picture you come across on social media. But with any post, there’s an intention behind the beauty.

Even these paragraphs I’m hastily typing in the few minutes I have before the boys wake up, there’s an intention for connection and vulnerability.

Back to the bread. The day I shared that photo was a particularly draining week for me. Nobody was feeling well, everybody was in rare form. We’d completely lost any sense of a dependable schedule due to erratic sleep patterns and head colds. I was wallowing in self pity, unfortunately. All I wanted was some semblance of control, something upon which I could depend.

Baking fills that need beautifully. If you combine the right ingredients and follow the recipe, the end result is guaranteed. It’s scientific, it’s mathematical, it’s tactile, it’s delicious, and yes…it can be aesthetically pleasing as well. It ticks all the boxes, and gives me permission to watch baking shows late at night knowing it’s not all vapid binging. It’s self care that seems worth sharing.

You’d never know from the picture that making plaited bread was my saving grace that day. It provided some needed control, it became a bonding experience with my son (though the plan was to have some alone time), and it deliciously supplemented our dinner that evening. Wins all around.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with sharing ‘perfect moments’ on social media. Often the intention is to document one’s personal journey. Sometimes it’s to give loved ones a sense of what you’re up to these days. Maybe at our worst we’re hoping for some misguided validation. Regardless of the intention, as a spectator of scrolling, it’s imperative to know that it’s never perfection behind the beauty.