For years I refused to have my picture taken. We would have family gatherings or we’d celebrate holidays, and I was always so careful to make sure I remained just out of the camera’s range. If I couldn’t run, I’d hide. I stood at the back or behind the kids. Low self-esteem, weight issues, one too many photos that caught me at an unflattering angle – all added up to make me cringe when the cameras came out.
I was photogenic and cute when I was little. I liked having my picture taken although I was always shy.
Everyone goes through that teenage, gawky awful stage where we are struggling with teeth that are uneven or don’t fit our still-growing face. Maybe we’ve recently gotten glasses, and we aren’t quite sure we like ourselves wearing them. Maybe we have teenage acne and our skin looks bad. I know very few people who don’t have some goofy-looking pictures from their pre-teen or teen years.
We all also have a day where we really shine. Maybe it was our wedding day. That’s usually a day where we look our best. Some brides survive on salads for months beforehand to make sure they fit into that teeny tiny dress. Some brides go tanning for weeks beforehand to make sure they aren’t too pale and ghostly in their white dress. I didn’t do any of that. I am who I am. My husband fell in love with me as I was. My wedding dress was a size 22-1/2, and I still think I looked beautiful that day.
Then came babies. If we are not skinny to begin with, having babies will do a number on our figures. Every woman talks about “losing the baby fat”. We all go through it unless we are genetically blessed and come out on the other side of childbirth looking like we’d never ever had a baby. I hate those women!
As my kids were growing and holidays and birthdays were being celebrated, I became more and more camera shy. Looking back on some of the family occasions, you wouldn’t even have known I was present. (Yes, it bothers me now that I was so vain and self-conscious that I let myself be left out of the picture.) I was usually behind the camera. The few times I let hubby snap a picture, it ended up being some unflattering angle. I couldn’t possibly look that bad, could I? I was thin for awhile (my first go-round with Weight Watchers), and I let myself be photographed more in those years.
As my boys grew, they often had a camera in their hands. They like to photograph or record videos of trains a lot. Since I was there, I would occasionally end up in a photo. They weren’t always the best shots either since I was trying hard NOT to get photographed.
When I turned 50, something changed. Maybe it was hubby’s comment when I mentioned how much I missed my Mother. He told me, “Look in the mirror.” Maybe I finally accepted who I am. I don’t have to answer to anyone. I am proud of who I am. People laugh at other people who take “selfies”, but I have found that the one who photographs me best is ME. I can get the proper angle, the proper lighting. (I also have a Photoshop app on my phone, and I can blur some of the edges to hide some imperfections!) I can make me look good. I finally like who I see. (But, yes, I am still a little vain and a little self-conscious).