We live in an era of pictures. We LOVE them. They capture our memories and give our friends and family a glimpse into our lives.
We live in an age of instant gratification. A picture is taken, we all want to immediately see it and know if it’s a good picture. But here’s a simple reality, when we look at a photo, we each only look at ourselves. It’s a good picture if we look good. It’s a bad picture if we look bad. It’s a picture that needs to be burned or deleted if we look fat. A good picture can put us right up on cloud 9 and a bad picture can send us down a deep dark rabbit hole.
Have you ever seen a photo of yourself and it put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day? It used to happen to me all the time. I, like so many people, would judge myself so harshly in photos. I’d analyze flaws. It was like the scale and photos were the two things that determined my mood and self worth daily.
In fact, poses like “skinny arm” were invented strictly so we could love ourselves more in photos. We can also “filter” any flaw. We essentially cater more to how we will look in pictures than how we look in real life.
Recently, I obviously put on a lot of weight. They say pregnancy does that to you:) Although Penelope helped me lose 7 pounds, 8 ounces, I still have a ways to go. And I’m currently still the heaviest I’ve ever been not pregnant. In fact, if I was this weight 10 years ago I’d be in the worst place mentally. I would have HATED myself and spoken to myself horribly. Because 10 years ago, weight trumped everything. A picture where I looked thin meant more to me than anything. It’s sad to say but it’s the truth. And many of us, work so hard at our degrees, our careers, our families and our relationships. We may be successful in them all. But when we fail at weight, we feel like we’ve failed at life.
This past weekend I was at the beach with my family. I decided to take my 3 month old daughter, Penelope down to the water for the first time. I announced to everyone that I was doing that. Naturally, everyone who was with me on the beach wanted to witness this. My sister-in-law, Jen, grabbed her camera to document the moment. Later that night she asked if I wanted to look at the photos she had taken. I of course did. My first reaction, I’m not going to lie, was panic. Wow, I look big I thought. Eek, my rolls are prominent, I said to myself. I had to take a moment to gather my fear of fat and bring myself back to reality. The reality was that my daughter had felt the ocean water on her toes for the first time. My body had given birth to the daughter that was in that picture. A moment of pain turned into a moment of immense pride. Those we’re body imperfections, those were beauty marks.
I was a little frustrated that I fixated on me instead of Penelope. Like me, you too have spent too much time and energy trying to look perfect in pictures that you’ve forgotten the meaning of a photo. A photo is there to capture a memory not become a vehicle that determines self worth. If the moment is perfect so is your body at that moment.