Disclaimer: I have debated with myself quite a bit over this post. It is my hope that is not deemed controversial, negative or a discussion about what is healthy/not healthy but will help bring light and discussion to a normally taboo or controversial subject.
I am a photographer. I LOVE taking beautiful portraits of my clients and I thoroughly enjoy capturing love. Seriously, it makes me giddy and makes my heart swell in ways I never thought it could. Call me a hopeless romantic but I love a good love story. Not just between a husband and wife but between parents and their kids or pretty much any other kind of love story. Ask anyone who looks my way during a Mother/Son or Father/Daughter dance; I am usually a mess behind the camera.
This brings me to the reason for this post…
If you take a look around my blog, you will see happy people. Some are getting married, having babies, celebrating milestones, etc.; basically, you will find tons of love stories or random posts from me about tips, what I am currently reading, my photographic journey or just a glimpse into my life. This post however, is a bit of a combination of things.
From time to time I have come across discussions about mom’s not wanting to be photographed because of their appearance (whether it be weight related or the fact that they are aging and they feel ashamed). For the most part I have sat quietly, understanding all too much how that feels and yet still remained behind the camera. Moms, I see you; I can relate to you and trust me, I understand completely. However, it greatly saddens me that we have felt this way. We can blame it on our society and what we deem as beauty or on ourselves for what we may or may not have contributed to it but the fact of the matter is, we are allowing our insecurities to be more important than capturing our relationships. I say we, because I have done it.
As a photographer I am often asked if I can “photoshop” certain aspects of someone’s body to appear thinner, or younger. Heck, I am guilty of that. I cannot tell you how many times in the past I have casually joked (but more serious than joke) with our family photographer that any help she can give me would be greatly appreciated. I will usually respond to my clients with ways one can minimize whatever insecurity they have because after all, the right angle and right light can make everyone look AMAZING but after releasing a recent online gallery for a family session I received my first “I’m not happy with the way I look” email and it made me think of how I have felt in the past and grateful that my perspective is starting to change.
On a few occasions I have made the comment that I was fat while in the presence of my seven year old son. To which he would quickly give me a shocked face and tell me that I was not fat at all. Over the last few weeks I have been seriously thinking about my weight, what I can do to be healthier and be a positive role model for my boys when all of a sudden something became so apparent. First, I was wrong for degrading myself; especially in front on my son. Picking apart negative things about your body is never the answer and does nothing but instill negative feelings and tear down your self-worth. Not to mention what it shows your kids (both male and female). If we can't love ourselves as we are at this moment (not for what we can be) how can we show them the value of a good, healthy self-esteem? Second, I began to analyze his answer and the realization struck me to the core. You see, my son views “fat” as something nasty or gross; something with a negative outlook. To him, his mom could never be something ugly and grotesque. You know why? Because when he looks at me, he doesn’t look at the outside; he sees the inside. He sees someone who loves him in ways no one else can love him; he sees someone who comforts him when he is upset, who makes him sit in the “boo-boo chair” when he gets hurt while I bandage and pray over his wound, who loves to sit and hear him read me a book or snuggle while watching a movie and tuck him in at night. He sees me; and to him, I am the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. So, he doesn’t care that I could stand to lose a few (or quite a few) pounds; he just wants me around.
At the beginning of this year I decided to make a conscious decision to be in more photos--even if I didn't love the way I looked. On vacation this summer we had a photo session on the beach with a fabulous photographer (Kamila’s Photography). When we went to Disney I didn’t just bring my camera and get shots of my husband and boys, I invested in the PhotoPass so I could actually visually be present in our vacation images. Did I cringe at how I looked in some of them? Yep, I sure did. Did I think that I could have looked better? Certainly. BUT, the look of joy and happiness on our faces trumped it all and I know that one day when they are older and are looking back at our vacation album they will remember the amazing time we had—all of us.
So in short, love yourself no matter what size, shape or age and then get out from behind the camera. Don’t throw away images of yourself or family that are not 100% flattering because one day you will be gone and it will be all your family and friends have left to remember you by. Trust me, the last thing they will be thinking about is how much you weigh or how old you look. They will just be wondering why so many years you are missing.
Family photos courtesy of Kamila's Photography.