Monday, 16 November 2015

Mommy Musing: Including Yourself in the Picture

I'm not a "selfie" kinda gal. My social media profile contains more images of my cats than of myself. Hey, cats are huge on the internet... Still, at a photo shoot that I had back in October for my son and niece, I decided to force myself to be included in at least a few. We had pictures as a group, and I tried my best to "look nice" while trying to keep my busy toddler still. I was incredibly judgemental of the results; looking more at my belly and my messy hair than at the smiles and the fun of my family on a sunny fall day. I can't help myself, I have poor body image.

I've struggled with my weight as far back as I can remember. I have seen pictures of myself as a slender 8 year old, but what I recall most is the wounded and overweight me that began in my early teens. I stopped wearing shorts at 14 years old, after the only pair that I felt comfortable in - a thick, black pair I stole from my father - fell apart in the wash. I would shop with my friends at the mall, but buy only shoes or accessories, getting my clothes from thrift or outlet stores. I love being thrifty, but I also couldn't justify spending designer prices to clothe a body I hated.

Having grown in to my body, so to speak, I'm no longer ashamed of what I look like. I try to eat moderately, I exercise when I can, and I'm healthy. Old habits do die hard, however, and I still find myself feeling self conscious regularly. I have days when I can't find anything to wear, or scrutinize the blemishes and dark spots on my face harshly. That's all part of being a female I suppose, especially in this modern, photo-obsessed world. I accept myself, but not in a swim suit, or shorts, or in photos, or... so maybe I haven't fully come around.

My mother is the same, but for her own reasons. She is beautiful, slender, and looks so young for her age. You would think she would love to have family pictures done, but when she sees herself, she sees a (non-existent) bump on her nose from when it was broken as a teen, she sees wrinkles and age spots, she see an image that she would rather not capture. So she hangs photos of us, but not of herself.  I have so few photos of my whole family together, and even fewer of just my mom at the various stages of her life. The ones I have, I love so much. I laugh at the fashions, smile at the fun, and search for features that were inherited by my sisters and I.

It made me start thinking of my son in the future. It's terrible to think of, but the unforseen can happen. He will wake up one day, hopefully decades from now, and I will no longer be there to spend time with him. As much as I hate my outfit, or my stretch marks, or muffin top, I will never be as young as I am today. He, and maybe his children, will want to reach back in time like I do now. I want to leave him the memories of fun and love that we have together, and not always be the one behind the camera. 

Having my photo done might make me feel awkward in the moment, and I may not always be thrilled at the results, but what I'm doing is capturing a moment in time. I owe it to my son and to myself to have those memories to look back on together. They don't need to go on Facebook or be framed on the wall, but can be stored safe in an album that I take down like a story book, and tell the tale of my own life, and the life we share together.

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