We are often our own worst critics aren’t we? So many times I look in the mirror and that negative tape we all know so well starts playing. It’s a constant battle to shut it off and remind yourself that a quiet voice in your head has absolutely no power over you. But it’s not only in the mirror that this deceptive bully tries to assert authority, we hear it through comparison when another beautiful woman walks by and we get bombarded while flipping through our photo albums.
I recently wrote an article about how in this digital age we often are so quick to delete precious memories of ourselves with our children because we find them unflattering. You can read “Just Snap the Photo, Mama” in its entirety here if you like. Well, the other day this lesson became very real to me.
I often write about the type of person I want to become, hoping that not only will I grow from it but others will find encouragement themselves. And some of those things are harder to apply to my own life than I’d like to admit. Such is the case when last Saturday our little family decided to do something fun and take the kids to the splash pad.
Our four-year-old had been begging to get into the water for the summer and it was the first experience for our baby boy. Because of this, I felt the need to capture the sweet moment. I snapped a few photos of my kids, my husband and even asked him to capture me. I’m still trying to get to know my new postpartum body and I’m definitely not as comfortable in it as I’d like to be. As you can imagine, this feeling only intensifies in a bathing suit.
Nevertheless, I had him take the photo. Besides, I had just written a blog article encouraging other moms to do so. Shouldn’t I follow my own advice? Everything was fine and dandy until I flipped through the pictures later.
I hated what I saw.
In seconds, without even thinking, my finger raced towards the trashcan icon. But I stopped short, remembering why I had it taken in the first place. This was for my kids and looking back at these photos, they wouldn’t care what I looked like in this photo. They would only see that their mom took them out for a fun day of play. So I kept it. But I decided that wasn’t enough. I needed to really practice what I was preaching. That’s when I took the next step.
I posted in a few of my favorite Facebook groups for moms. I was hoping this moment of insecurity I was having would resonate with them as well. In a matter of hours this little photo I was going to delete went from private to public and before I knew it hundreds of moms were commenting, liking and interacting with what I had said:
“I’m going to be brave and post this photo that I would normally never let the public see. In fact, I’d normally delete and not let anyone see it. Today I’m changing that. I’m keeping this photo for my kids so that they have memories of their mom fighting against her insecurities to play with them. I so often talk about the need for us to see real bodies so we realize we are more normal than we think. Here’s a real body.”
It was so encouraging to hear from so many women who wanted to do the same, wanted to start taking photos and preserving memories for their own children. But perhaps the most surprising thing was that some of the comments were asking what was wrong with the photo. They couldn’t see the flaws that were so blaringly obvious to me. In fact, one mom named Kristine commented:
“I look at the picture before I read the description. I just saw a mother/woman with two cute kids and I thought I love her swimsuit! Then I read the description and I was like, “What?” Honey, you are beautiful! I hope you overcome your insecurities. I have lost 45lbs and I don’t feel any different. I wasted so many years dieting only to gain more weight. Once I got to the point where I just stopped and loved myself, I take so many pictures now.”
Did you read that? She didn’t see my weight. She just saw my happy photos with the kids. And my favorite part? The fact that she lost 45 pounds and doesn’t feel any different. You see, that little voice inside our head is a complete liar and you have every right to remind it that it has no authority over you. Know that the things you find as flaws may be things no one else notices. So live your life with joy, take those photos and by all means, post them with pride. The person you see in the mirror is so much more beautiful than you even realize but I hope that one day you see just how worthy you are.
Now that photo that I was so quick to erase is floating through multiple Facebook groups and staring at you right here for all to see in a blog post. Why? Because I’m not letting my insecurity pull the reigns. I hope you find encouragement to do the same. It is so worth the effort to try and get comfortable with sharing who we truly are, unedited.
That’s the person people truly want to see.