Is your poor body image preventing you from getting in front of the camera and documenting your kid’s life?
I like to think I’m a pretty brave person – but these days, when I see someone break out a camera or point their phone in my direction, I break out in a cold sweat.
I’ve never been exceptionally comfortable in front of the camera. I’m definitely comfortable behind it (always the photographer, never the subject!), but poor body image has always left me feeling awkward and unphotographable.
And let me tell you – after having a baby, it did NOT get any easier.
Suddenly, the body I had already been uncomfortable in was completely different than the one I had grown used to. Make no mistake, my body did incredible things. It housed what would become a 10 lb, 3 oz bundle of joy. My body underwent major surgery when a certain bundle of joy’s head got too big to deliver the old fashioned way. It recovered in record time and worked so hard to make sure my son had a full belly at all times.
My body is amazing.
And sometimes, I don’t like to look at it.
Taking photos of my dearest memories has always been important to me, but that importance has become a near obsession now that I’m a mother. I’m determined to capture every smile, every cute outfit, every milestone. I make sure to take pictures of my wife with my baby, of the pets with the baby, of friends and relatives with the baby…
I’m sure you can imagine where I’m going with this.
I was letting my negative body image get in the way
A few weeks into my son’s life, I began to realize I was in very few of his pictures. Let me tell you, that realization hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t want Gideon to look back on the photos from those early years and barely see his Mama. He deserves to see the love in my eyes as I gaze adoringly at my newborn babe.
The problem was, how was I supposed to get in front of the camera more when I was scared of the outcome? How was I supposed to smile and feel comfortable having my photo taken when it was still hard to look in the mirror? How was I going to document Gideon’s life without letting my negative body image get in the way?
The answer I arrived at, finally, was this: I don’t have to be comfortable yet. I don’t have to like my body yet, either. But I do have to respect it. I have to acknowledge all the incredible things it has done, and all the incredible things it continues to do. And in doing so, I have to acknowledge the important role that my body’s presence has for my son, both in photos and in person. My body feeds, clothes, hugs, soothes, and holds him.
Now, that’s all well and good to know, but knowing that doesn’t erase those uncomfortable, terrifying feelings that bubble up when I’m trying to smile for a picture. Here are a few tips that have helped me as I slowly acclimate to being the subject in our family photos – maybe they can help you, too.
Selfies count as getting in front of the camera, make no mistake, but often a selfie doesn’t capture everything that’s happening in the background. This means the resulting photo doesn’t end up telling the best story. I solved this by getting a selfie stick that I keep in my diaper bag! That way, the photo encompasses more of our surroundings while still giving me a sense of control over the way the photo is taken.
Hold down that button
Don’t be afraid to take tons of photos! Change your pose, change the angle, change the composition. Take one in the sunlight! One in the shade! Here, there, and everywhere! The more you take, the odds are you’re going to find a photo that really speaks to you and makes you smile. (Just be sure to delete the excess as soon as you’re able!)
Change your self-talk
This is the hardest tip by far, but it’s the most important. It’s all too easy to indulge in negative self-talk when we see a picture of ourselves we don’t like. However, not only does that leave you feeling worse about yourself, it’s only too easy for little ears to hear and absorb those negative thought patterns.
Swap out “Oh, my thighs are huge,” or, “I hate the way my stomach sticks out like that,” for “Wow, look how huge I’m smiling in this photo. I was so happy!” and “We’re all laughing so much in this picture. This was such a wonderful day.”
It’ll feel unnatural at first, but soon enough, it will start to become a habit. And that’s a step in the right direction.
For memories sake, don’t let your poor body image stop you from celebrating life
This is a hard journey for us postpartum parents, but it’s an important one. I’m proud of you for taking the first step. You’re prioritizing your mental health, and you’re prioritizing leaving some incredible memories for your children to look back on with fondness.
If they knew, they’d thank you.