At 7am bright and early this morning, my family had our pictures taken by a local photography company here in Abilene. The last time we had professional pictures taken was for Calvin’s newborn session (he just turned 2 a few weeks ago) so it has been a while!
While I am super excited to get some new family pictures, I am also a bit anxious about them. Three of my recent posts have been about body image and the struggle I have had with feeling beautiful enough. Well, pictures are not the funnest thing for a person who doesn’t like their appearance much of the time!
I was trying to explain to my husband what it’s like to get my picture taken. I explained it as follows:
“It’s kind of a mixture of fear and dread. I have no idea what I’m going to see when I look at the screen (referring to having my photo taken on a phone). Sometimes I might see this cute person that I recognize from looking at myself in the mirror, but sometimes I see this completely different person, a horribly disfigured version of myself that I didn’t know existed. So there’s always a fear of looking at a photo of myself, because I never know which person I’m going to see.”
Does anyone else sympathize with that? I know it’s not just me. Even in the past few days I have heard from others the negative experience that comes from having their picture taken:
“I think the problem is that the picture always ends up looking like me.” (said jokingly…)
“I hate getting that done, but I guess we’ll have to.” (referring to getting pictures taken for an ‘About Me’ page on a professional blog)
For many people, having pictures taken is a dreaded experience. Because, after all, a picture doesn’t lie. Or does it? I’m sure any professional photographers out there could argue with me that sometimes photos do “lie” – I know if I took a picture of something, and a professional took a picture of the same thing, those pictures would look completely different, even though they were of the same object. A photographer knows how to use angles and lighting to get the best view of something. So there are genuinely some tricks of the trade.
Maybe the picture doesn’t lie necessarily, but our minds certainly can. The way we perceive pictures may not always be accurate. Do you think it’s possible for two different people looking at the same image to see something different? We all perceive and experience things differently. So when my husband and I are looking at a photo of ourselves, and he says he sees a beautiful woman, many times I can’t find the woman he’s talking about.
I will admit, this past week I’ve been a bit preoccupied with trying to make sure these photos were going to look amazing. (And much of that included trying to make myself look amazing.) I tried out different hairstyles; I bought new clothes and shoes, and got Calvin about 4 different outfit options because I couldn’t decide what would look best. I bought some Crest whitestrips (last time I used those was before my wedding.) I was extremely careful with my diet because I was so fearful that I would end up with a giant pimple on the day of our photoshoot – and that would just be the end of the world.
To be honest, despite my best efforts, I did in fact get a huge pimple 2 days before our photoshoot; and it was still there this morning before we took pictures. I did the best I could with makeup and accepted it. I blow-dried my hair this morning, and instead of trying to make it curl and do a fancy hairstyle, I went with my natural straight texture and still felt pretty. I realized after the fact that my eyebrow makeup wasn’t as blended as it should have been… but right now I feel like I can say “oh well” and move on.
I actually considered going on a green juice fast for a few days before the photoshoot, just so I would look a little bit thinner and my skin would be a little bit clearer… but I am somewhat proud to say I decided I didn’t need to do that to be okay with how I looked.
I’m sure I will end up loving the pictures we take – especially 10 or 20 years from now when I’m in my 50’s and 60’s, and I’ll say, “Wow, I can’t believe how good I used to look!” It’s a lot easier to appreciate how I USED to look than how I currently look. Looking back at old pictures, I suddenly don’t understand anymore why I thought I was unattractive at the time the picture was taken.
I hope I can continue to have more mornings like today where I can say, “oh well” and accept myself, even appreciate and love myself. Because constantly being critical of myself in the present and wistfully dreaming of the past is no way to live. Constantly trying to be somebody I’m not is exhausting.