What You Might Not See In That Facebook Aging Challenge

by Mikal Staley
Originally Published: 
Mikal Staley

Hanging in my father’s house is a picture of me from when I was in high school. I’m standing next to my first Jeep that I ever owned, so I know I was a Junior or Senior. For the longest time, every time I walked by that picture in his hallway I would sigh and think to myself, look how young and skinny I am! I’m the thinnest that I had ever been, I’m wearing makeup, my hair is done. If you were to compare a picture of me today to that picture, let’s just say that none of those things apply.

Recently I’ve been seeing this “Aging Challenge” everywhere on social media. I will admit, it’s fun to see how you have changed over the years, for better or for worse. Someone pointed out that camera filters have come a long way over the years and it really shows. How true that statement is!

But I want to talk about the things that are not overly obvious about the older pictures of you. They only show what’s on the outside. Yes, I am younger and skinnier in those old high school pictures of me. Want to know what else I was? A self-conscious teenager who had a lot of emotional baggage.

After having children, I’m not sure if it’s that I gained more self-confidence after the ordeal or if I’m older and wiser and just don’t care as much anymore. Some days I have a pity party for myself but others I think how great I look for a woman that has carried two children. Either way, I’m in a better mental state than my younger, skinnier self. What people don’t see when looking at these old photographs of me are a laundry list of issues that a lot of young women go through.

In the picture, my hands are clasped in front of me because I would always do the stance where you use your arms to try and block your belly. I don’t do that now. I don’t care. I’m the embarrassing mom in the background waving her arms like a crazy person while my kids roll their eyes.

I always thought I was fat and therefore didn’t eat if I could avoid it. I remember seeing my hip bones and ribs in the mirror and being smug and satisfied. That meant I was looking good in my bathing suit. It also meant I had become severely anemic. I would get horrible bloody noses and bruises around my hips because I had to belt my pants on so tight to keep them up.

I had this awful idea in my head that if I didn’t turn the head of every male I passed then I wasn’t good enough and I needed to eat less, exercise more, do my hair and make up better. I took it as a personal failure if a guy didn’t give me a creepy leer. Even those who I was not interested in.

Today, I am no longer hour glass figured. There are more wrinkles on my face and my hair and makeup are almost never done. But I walk with my head held high and don’t cover my belly in pictures. I laugh obnoxiously loud and eat what I want. If a guy does give me the eye these days, I’m more creeped out than impressed. Overall, things are better in life.

So just because you may think that you look younger and skinnier or prettier in your old pictures, just remember all the other things you had going on at the time and all the obstacles you have overcome to survive to today! Everything is not always as it seems in pictures. Yes, you aged, obviously. But that also means you’re older and wiser than you once were!

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