Here we go, the dreaded “body image” post. Anyone who knows me is aware that I hate having my picture taken. Scroll through photos I upload on Facebook or Instagram and you’ll notice there are very little of yours truly that aren’t candid or professionally taken – and even those are scarce. To say I’m not photogenic is an understatement. My “picture smile” threatens to eat my face and it’s a blessed miracle if my eyes aren’t sealed shut.
It goes beyond simply taking a good picture. As someone who has struggled with body image issues and disordered eating, a picture is just another way for me to self-critique what I designate as my “problem areas.” A little in the lower belly. Thighs that no matter how much I run or squat, always seem to touch.
It’s because of these issues that I rarely, if ever, allowed myself to be photographed when I was pregnant. I scrolled through all my pictures during that time and counted 4 that are actually considered “belly” pictures. And maybe there are 10 pictures of me total during those 10 months. I posted one belly pic on Facebook during my entire pregnancy – and it was one that was carefully orchestrated (all black, specific camera angle). In an era, of iPhones and Instagram, I think most people would agree that is practically unheard of. I wish I was confident enough for those glowing maternity pictures, but the whole thing sounded way more stressful than it did enjoyable.
Fast forward a year and I’m making progress. I did a family photo shoot with my husband and son in January, the result of which is now hanging in the living room along with a blown-up image from my wedding day. I don’t critique how I look in those pictures, only how happy I was on those two days.
Because I try to have some hindsight, I took a selfie belly pic when I was about 39 weeks pregnant. I figured one day I’d want to remember what I looked like pregnant – not to critique, but to just remember. I’m glad I did. Last night I happened to put the same clothes on as that pic and thought it would be interesting to see how far I’ve come. And this time, post it online.
When I put it on Instagram/Twitter, I added the caption: “What a difference a year makes.” This isn’t because I now resemble my pre-baby self more than ever, it’s because I’m getting better at being comfortable in my own skin – and actually willing to post a picture of myself 35+ pounds heavier than I usually am. Of course, it isn’t perfect (did my butt really get that big when I was pregnant?), but it never will be. And that’s OK.