Last week a sweet friend shared her discomfort with having her photo taken. She shared it had a similar effect to getting on the scale and could send her reeling. You get this, right?
Someone snaps a pic of you, puts it on Facebook and tags you. Hours later, you see it and nearly die. It’s a bad angle, a poor fitting dress that makes you look like you have ripples on your back that you know aren’t there, it’s the lighting, you’ve got your head turned and it looks like you have seventeen chins. Your thighs look more than juicy, there’s a gap in the buttons on a shirt you thought looked great, your naturally thin sister makes you look like a linebacker. And those are on the nice end of the things you might say when you see the photo. I’ve got a list of the not-so-nice things that have gone through my head when looking at photos of myself…things I would never in a million years say to a friend. But I’ll say them to myself when looking at a photo.
I had that experience last weekend, I relate all too well to my friend’s reaction to seeing photos of herself. There’s a huge photo gap in my life from my heaviest years. I would be hard pressed to find photos of myself at my heaviest weight. I’ve lost half of my body weight and feel great internal pressure to keep the weight off. I’m supposed to be the weight loss success story. If I want folks to honor my path or learn from my changes, I have to keep up appearances. And I don’t like failing. But the truth is that I can’t maintain my lowest weight without being sick and eating in a way I would never suggest to anyone else. In the past few months, my body revolted against the thyroid medication that has worked for years. And then I tried to reintroduce a couple of foods my body previously didn’t like into my diet. My body is not in balance right now, I feel puffy. All of this combined to make me reluctant to share a family photo on social media last week. I didn’t look my thinnest.
The photo was shared anyway. It was a happy moment. My favorite fella and I shared a delightful meal with two of his aunts and we took a photo together on the way out. It had been a year and a half since seeing one of them and more years than I can count since seeing the other. Neither of us have close family in the area and we don’t often get together with family. These are treasured moments for us.
The photo, the one I nearly didn’t share, was reshared by one of the aunts. She captioned it, “Good time with family for breakfast.” Family. That one word made me smile and stop worrying quite as much about the photo. Another aunt, not at breakfast with us, left a comment saying, “Great smiles all around!” Lots of folks pressed that “like” button and not one of them said, “Johnna, you look puffy!” Or if they did, they kept it to themselves. I hope what they saw in the photo was a joyful moment.
I’m going to try harder to see that in photos, too. The joy, the happiness, the love.
Just like I love you just as you are, I’m extending that to myself.
Yep, even in photos. Join me, won’t you?