Hey, Moms? Can I tell you something? Here goes…
Even if you aren’t comfortable in your body right now, please, please let people take your photo.
Nobody understands how hard that is better than I do. I promise you that. Accepting how I look in photos was my “final frontier” for body love. I started loving my mirror reflection pretty easily. It wasn’t too hard for me to throw away fashion rules and wear things I just truly love. I own bikinis and skin tight leggings, off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, crop tops, and brightly colored everything. Hell, I wear a red lip on a random Tuesday to pick up my kid from school. I do what I want.
But photos? That was another story.
For a long time, I just didn’t see the same person in photos as I did in the mirror. It felt like I doubled in size the minute the camera hit me. Was that what my back fat looked like? Where did all those chins come from? What the hell was happening with my arms?
It was a hard time. I hated it.
But for me, it was kind of like learning to listen to my own voice in a recording. At first, it sounded foreign and strange, but now that I’m used to it, the voice in my head and the voice I hear when I’m recorded sound exactly alike.
Once I grew accustomed to seeing myself through a camera lens, my mental picture of myself changed. Now, I know what to expect when someone takes my picture, and I actually really love photos of myself. (And if I don’t, it’s rarely about my size. My resting bitch face could use a little work…)
There are entire years of my life where nothing but selfies and photos of me from the shoulders up exist, and I’m pretty annoyed about it now.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m still a huge fan of a filtered, beautifully angled selfie. I’m unapologetic about that. Nobody hates looking awesome.
It’s just that I’ve really widened my idea of exactly what an awesome me looks like. Now I think I’m beautiful in lots of situations, from most angles, with or without the chance to pose and perfect the shot. I wish I had spent more time in full-length photos so I could look back at being 25, 27, 29 and remember the whole truth of it.
It’s such a sad thing to hide because you don’t think your body is good enough.
It’s your body! You live in it! What could be more worthy and gorgeous than the place you call home?
You’re raising people with it. You might even have grown them inside it or fed them with it. Chances are, you’ve survived the unthinkable in it. You’ve accomplished the impossible in it.
And somehow you’d cherish it more if it looked like someone else entirely? You can’t see the value in your own flesh and bones because our culture has sold you an idea of perfection that is genetically impossible for almost all of us.
It’s time for us to wake up and see how much utter bullshit that is. Diet culture sucks, and we are allowed to break free.
You’ve survived your entire life and everything that tried to ruin you just to get to this moment.
You look exactly how a person who has lived your story is meant to look. Your story brought you here.
Take. A. Photo. You’re a work of art.
It won’t be easy. You might hate it. Body acceptance doesn’t happen in a day. You have to slowly sand away the layers of body shame and judgment that the world has painted onto you. It hurts a little, and it takes so much time.
But while you’re working on it, please let people take your photo.
Your family wants to remember how you look right now in your current state. Maybe you’ll feel most comfortable asking your spouse to snap a shot or two without your knowledge at first. Maybe you only want to be in photos where you have warning and can be ready for your close-up.
You might need to hire a professional photographer with expensive equipment and a great eye for the perfect shot. This is still my favorite way to do it. We have photos taken at least once every couple years. I am still obsessed with our latest family photos. I’ve been looking at them ten times a day every day since we got them back weeks ago. They’re so beautiful to me. In a few of them, I am laughing and smiling at my babies. I was at that shoot, and I know I didn’t fake it. We were just hanging out.
That means my boys see that love in my face in our real lives on the reg. It makes me feel like I’m doing this mom gig justice. Photos show us parts of ourselves we will never see any other way.
However you have to do it, take the first step.
Get out from behind the camera, and be present in photos with the people who love you.
You might not love how they look right away. You don’t have to put them on social media. Actually, you don’t even have to look at them right away if it’s too hard. But save them. Make sure they exist.
I know that the fact that we have a camera at our fingertips at all times is a blessing and a curse. It can be easy to take so many photos that we miss living in our moments.
But while you’re being careful to be present and engaged, don’t forget that everywhere we go, we have the opportunity to capture our memories and freeze them in time. We will never live this day again. Someday we will live our very last day ever.
Photos will be all that’s left to show the people we leave behind that we were there, loving them all the way.
It would be a shame to let body insecurity stop you from preserving yourself as part of your family’s beautiful story.