Let me state for the record:
I HATE photographs of myself.
Both of my two childhood photos (I was the fourth of four kids) show a skinny girl with frizzy red hair, freckles, and buck teeth. UGH!
I could tolerate my wedding photos because there is some truth to the karma that surrounds a happy bride and besides by then I'd had orthodontia and learned how to use a blow dryer! Not to mention I weighed 105 lbs...
Next came motherhood with all THOSE photo ops. I did my best to hide behind the kids but at a weight that just kept climbing, that was hard to do. I never allowed photos of me standing up but that really didn't matter since most photos were taken at family celebrations and I was always photographed sitting at a table stuffing my face.
Even though I have always paid attention to my grooming - wearing make-up everyday and dressing nicely in clothes that fit but were never sloppy, I still looked heavy and much older than I was.
By the time my kids were getting married I dreaded the requisite photos. No expensive silky, satiny dress could improve upon helmet hair, big glasses, and 78 lbs too much weight on my little frame. Not even the beautiful bride could detract from how awful I felt that I looked, I thought. How egotistical!!
My husband on the other hand looks dashing in every photo ever taken of him. He's never had to particularly watch his weight. His hair is never turning gray. His eyes twinkle behind his glasses. His smile lights up his face. AND -- he just doesn't give a hoot!!
In my mind THAT only reduces his credibility when he looks at photos of me and says "You look beautiful as always"!
His theory is "It is what it is" and can't for the life of him understand why I get so filled with dread when anyone pulls out a camera and says "Smile"!
That phrase just makes me want to reply "Bend over" in that same cheery voice...
Someone at work snapped my picture standing next to the 33 year old doctor I worked for and I looked like I could be his mother even though I was only 39!! I have more chins in that picture than a Chinese phonebook! I cried when I saw it and yet it would be another 10 years before I lost any weight.
In the year 2006, at the funeral for my 25 year old son, I looked at the board of photos that we displayed at his visitation and I had an awakening. Those pictures were basically all that I had left of my son. Would I look at them and start pointing out that HE had put on weight, or had a little acne, or should have combed his hair?
Two months after he passed away I resolved to lose weight and get healthy. The "life is short saying" had new meaning to me and I didn't want to spend what was left of mine with no energy, on a bunch of medications, out of shape, wearing tents that stretched, even if Lane Byrant did their best to make them look modern.
So I found Sparkpeople and lost 78 pounds.
Did I automatically bury the hatchet with the camera? Sigh! Not entirely, but I did learn to tolerate it.
In fact last year around this time I saw a Groupon on line for "Boudior" photos from a local photographer. Ah hah! Every year I struggle with what to get the man for Christmas who professes that he already has everything that he needs. So After checking out her credentials and discovering that she is legit and this line is only a side gig for her, I booked my session. I browsed her website for outfit ideas and found the photos totally tasteful and classy. I also had a total ball pouring through the Victoria's Secret catalog for wispy, silky, coverings that I ordered for the occasion.
I started to tell the photographer all the flaws that I didn't want in the pictures and she shoved a glass of nice white wine in my hand and told me to RELAX. She basically "taught" me how to pose to highlight what I wanted and distract from what I didn't want to see. I changed outfits throughout the session in a flurry of giggles as I went from my work scrubs (the naughty nurse) to the WSOP hat (my hobby). Afterwards as I was looking through her promo photos I saw several heavier women looking so confident and sexy that I had to admit that sexy isn't a size.
Between her talent behind the camera and the wine, I, too, felt confident. I ended up having a very nice book made for my husband. The cover photo is just enough boudiorish to warn the kids when they encounter it after we pass on not to venture in if the sight of their mother's décolletage is going to require a trip to the river Jordan afterwards to wash their eyes.
I even selected a nice photo to frame and put up in our bedroom as well as one for my husband's desk at work. That's the one I use as a profile picture.
I have another one that I told the kids to crop out the cleavage and use as my obituary picture.
So has all this taught me how to appreciate having my picture taken? Yeah, but I'm still not a huge fan of myself in un-retouched photos. I hadn't realized just how much old habits die hard though, until I visited my sister in Virginia this fall. After I lost my weight, it inspired her and SHE joined Sparkpeople and lost 78 lbs. too! We are the best of friends and I was having a great visit with her. We were just lounging in her family room watching television in our jammies when around the corner comes her husband brandishing a camera! "Smile"! -- CLICK
We looked at the photo still on his camera and started protesting -- "I don't have make-up on", "My chins look awful", "My hair is stringy" "Mines thin" ---
"We look" "We look" "We look" --
He cut right through the chatter. "You look HAPPY"!!
You know what? He is right. And that, my friends, is what REALLY counts.