Picture “Perfect”

little children

You are at an event – a party, a holiday gathering, or vacation – and inevitably someone wants to take a picture of your group, and they want you to be in the picture.  You feel super uncomfortable. You try to run away, or tell them you don’t like your picture taken. They get upset or angry, and plead for you to be in the picture. You get embarrassed by their pleading and now you are faced with a decision. Do I allow the picture to be taken and splashed all over facebook or instagram? Or, do I persist and insist that I won’t be in the picture?

Having photos taken can be super stressful for anyone who has body image issues. Individuals who struggle with their body sometimes find it painful to see themselves in print. Why is this??? Well, when someone is super critical of themselves and their flaws, they may instantly focus on those flaws when they see themselves in pictures. Truly, no one takes a great picture 100% of the time, but when you have low self-esteem and body image issues, you often can’t look past the imperfections to see yourself the way others see you.

I recently saw a picture of four women I knew. The picture wasn’t flattering of any of them, yet they loved the picture because all they could see was the love and friendship that they shared for over 30 years. None of them focused on the way their hair flew all over the place, or, in their words, the “lumps and bulges” that might have put another person over the edge.

Memories are created through pictures. Once an event has passed, all you have as a reminder of it are the photographs. In years to come, you will crave the memories of all your life’s events. Have you ever looked at pictures of yourself as a child, perhaps with a childhood friend, and smiled at the memories it conjured up? Did you have good feelings about the young person you saw in the picture?

Your feelings about your body will hopefully improve over time, and you will want to see yourself, as well as the places and people who were special to you. And, remember, that you are special to those around you. They aren’t looking at the pictures of you picking apart everything about you. The love they have for you makes them see the beauty in you, regardless of what your body looks like.

Try not to waste another moment of your life running and hiding from the camera. Try not to let your body image issues and your eating disorder prevent you from trying to create memories. Don’t wait until you think you will take the “perfect” picture. Obviously, I’m not recommending that you put yourself into any situation that will cause significant emotional distress. I’m simply recommending that you don’t let your eating disorder guide your decision to avoid the camera. Try to see what others see…your inner beauty, kindness, friendship. Create and savor each and every positive memory you can. Lastly, try not to pick yourself apart if you do see pictures of yourself. Try to find something positive about what you see.

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One thought on “Picture “Perfect”

  1. I was in IOP at Begin Within the other day. I was telling Donna my experience I had the day before which was exactly like this post. She said, “Wow, did you read my latest blog?” I had not, coincidently I experienced a similar situation. On Monday on my way home from program, my sister sent me a text inviting me to her house. I hesitated to answer because it was close to 98 degrees which likely meant they were swimming. As most of you know those who have eating disorders don’t like to be in a bathing suit because they’re insecure with their bodies. I really wanted to go because three of my cousins were there with their children. I first said no because I didn’t have a bathing suit with me. My sister quickly replied that I could borrow one of hers. I decided I would go for just an hour and not go swimming. Needless to say I was roasting in my sweat pants. I then decided I wanted to be in the pool with everyone. They were all having so much fun and I was watching from the side lines. I asked my sister for a bathing suit, it fit me perfectly. There was no reason for me not to wear it. I walked outside wearing a bikini for the first time in years, and jumped right into the pool. I did it. I was so proud of myself. Until my sister started taking pictures. I immediately said I didn’t want to be in the pictures. My sister looked at me annoyed. She told me I looked beautiful and I needed to stop! We took several pictures where my body was exposed. I then said…please don’t post these on Facebook. Again my sister looked at me and told me to be quiet. When I got home my sister had tagged me in every picture. I was horrified. How many people had already seen it and what would they think? She is so fat. I can’t believe she posted a picture on fb in her bathing suit. It turns out I had received a few likes and someone commented that I looked beautiful. I would never have imagined this day would come. I called my sister and thanked her for inviting me. Without her pushing me I would have never done what I did. And I was happy I did it because I am able to say I had a great time regardless of what I was wearing.

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