I’m going to lay out a scenario you’ve all probably experienced at some point:
You’re at a family gathering like a fun day on the lake, you’re out with friends you haven’t seen in forever, or your baby started doing something new and cute while you’re holding her. Out comes that camera to capture the moment and your first reaction is to dodge it at all costs. Or at least hurriedly fix your hair and suck in your gut before the shutter clicks.
Then, when you get a chance to review the picture, your “critical glasses” come on and instead of enjoying the sweet moment that was captured, your eyes go right to your problem areas. You feel discouraged, disgusted, or embarrassed and vow to never be in another picture unless you’re wearing makeup, have the perfect outfit on, or until you lose 15 pounds. And if you must be in one, you are instantly thinking of apologies and excuses for why you look the way you do.
The other day, I was searching for a good family picture to print and replace our outdated one in the living room. As I searched, I realized how few pictures we have with me in them. All I really found that I deemed “good enough” were pictures from years ago, with one less kid and me 15 pounds lighter. This past summer, we had professional pictures taken but I determined none of them would work because you can clearly see my double chin in one, and how sweaty and miserable we were in the other (thanks, Missouri humidity). Our amazing photographer captured a beautiful, candid moment as I tickled my toddler and we both giggled. Yet, when I first saw it, I ignored the happiness on our faces because my eyes went straight to my chin, my nose, and my hair, instead. My first reaction to such a sweet picture was disgust in how I looked, draped by my insecurities. How sad is that?
When I realized how few pictures I had of me with the kids, my friends, and my spouse, that sad reality beat out my stupid insecurities. I am now determined to always make myself be in pictures, regardless of how I feel I look at the moment. I know when that camera comes out, I’ll probably still feel fat, gross, or ugly sometimes. I know I’ll still silently worry about my hair and wish I had put on more makeup that morning. But I’m determined to still allow pictures to be taken because I want my children to have photos of me. I want them to remember what I looked like and to cherish the moments that picture captured.
Our children don’t think we are unattractive, fat, or gross. They don’t notice our stretch marks or if our hair is unwashed and thrown into a mom bun for the third day in a row. My children won’t notice imperfections or unattractiveness in me if I don’t point it out to them first. Our kids just innocently love us for who we are and for what we do for them. I don’t want to pass on my own insecurities to my kids, especially my daughters. I don’t ever want them to hear me say, “I look too big in this video” or “Wow, that’s terrible, delete it!” I want to be beautiful in my kids’ eyes, inside and out, so I won’t do anything to make them think otherwise. This, I realized, includes letting myself be in pictures.
So yes, take that photo of me swimming with the kids, even though I’m in my unflattering bathing suit, showing off my pasty-white thighs. Make sure my face is in focus for the birthday picture, even though there’s not a touch of makeup covering my acne. Take the video of our baby’s first steps, even if my excited squeals are too loud next to the camera and my shirt comes up a little as I jump, showing my muffin top. Include me, because I want my kids to remember how beautiful I actually am.