My insecurities go far beyond the usual. It’s not just that I notice my shiny cheeks, or my weight, my too-round nose, my lopsided smile, and the occasional zits that still rear their ugly heads, it’s the power these pictures have to absolutely horrify me. It’s a shock, every time: Do I really look that bad? Oh my god, why do people even talk to me? How can they stand it? Yeah, I know it’s nuts, but this is the head I have to live inside of. It isn’t pretty. And it makes me unable to appreciate all the OTHER things going on in the photos.
I admit that I have not been particularly successful at fighting those demons. But something changed when I started looking through the gajillions of photos I took of my son in his first few years of life. So many photos with so few variations. He’s sleeping! He’s eating! He’s holding a spoon! He’s thinking! No, wait, that’s gas. He’s holding a toy! He’s sitting on a fire truck! Oh my god he’s playing in the leaves! LOOK AT HIM!
I looked over the first few years of pictures, hundreds of them. My husband was there. I wasn’t. There was my son’s life, documented in incredibly tedious detail, and I wasn’t in it.
We all know the reasons I should’ve been there. Allison did a great job of listing them, and I don’t need to repeat them. Instead, I’ll offer you some tips and tricks I’ve learned to get yourself into those pictures, even when every instinct is telling you to grab the camera that’s pointed at you and go running as fast as you can into the woods to hide.
1. If someone’s taking a posed shot, look right into the camera.
I know it’s terrifying, but you’ve got to stare that sucker down. Open those eyes up wide and look right in. You’ll look better. I promise.
2. If it’s a group portrait, use other people to hide your flaws.
My sister taught me this one. If you think you look fat, grab a kid and pull them in front of you. Put your arms around them lovingly. Stomach is now concealed.
3. Wear sunglasses.
I don’t know why this helps me feel better about my shiny cheeks and fat nose, but it does. Sunglasses make everybody cooler. Just look at the Blues Brothers.
4. Make crazy faces.
If you think you don’t have that photogenic picture face, get silly instead. My daughter started taking selfies on a family trip last year, and insisted that we all get together for one. (She’s seven, but bossy.) It wasn’t the time to go into my diatribe about being in photos, so I just joined in the fun and we all made crazy wacky faces while she looked at the camera with some amusement. It’s one of my favorite pictures.
5. Practice secret selfies.
It’s just about the hardest thing to do in the world, but it’s worth it. You can delete them all afterwards. But take selfies and try different things until you find a look you can live with, and then you’ll know your best angle the next time it’s someone else holding the camera.
These tricks will make it possible for you to do what you fear without having to go through years of therapy first, and your kids will be forever grateful.