This is the sixth in a series of things that have helped me, I believe in, or people have asked me to share. Basically, things I do or think or whatever that have helped me be a better person, activist and positive fat lady. Check out Step 1, Step 2, Step 3, Step 4 and Step 5.
Step 6: Take Lots Of Pictures
One thing I realized while recently going through old photos was that there are very few pictures of me between the ages of 14 and 19. You see, I was in an abusive relationship. I had my once vibrant and endless self-esteem taken from me by an older man who took more than just that. For five years I was hidden away from the world and my friends and even my family. I had no joyful times or travels or anything other than misery to possibly capture on film. The few times I did snap some pics were mostly of still life/nature things. I have no idea what I looked like or how a camera would have captured my misery, or not, during this time. It seems once I escaped the clutches of abuse, the camera was once again an often present companion seeking out new adventures and friends and things. I also realized that there are very few pictures of my little brother and sister after my mom left.
Pictures are a funny thing. We love to look at our parents old pictures and laugh at their hairstyles or fashion choices. We love to see our grandparents wedding photos and sigh and swoon at the old timey romance of it all. Baby pictures are typical fare and are a great conversation starter for family gatherings; everyone saying the infant in question looks like old so and so. Then you reach whatever age it is that self-consciousness feels like knives in your face and you don’t want your picture taken or for anyone to see photos from your past, either. And if you were fat before or during this “whatever age” then it can be all the more painful to see or remember.
The thing is though, pictures are bookmarks in time. That Smurf top from Kindergarten? My fave! Oh how I wish they could make that exact top with the peter pan collar and key hole tie in front in my size now! I loved that shirt so much. It may have been the first and last item of white clothing I’ve owned. Ha-ha! And I know that at that age I wasn’t yet concerned about the giant gap in my front teeth. This was before the bullying and the abuse, before mom left. Before I cared what anyone thought of me. I was terrified of adults that weren’t my parents at the time, but kids? I loved them all and instantly made friends, if even for an hour, on the playground of the local parks. Without that picture of my five-year-old self in front of the kindergarten playground in my Smurf top I might not remember all of those details.
And some of you may recall my post about a picture I’d found from when I was about 15 or 16. It still surprises me what others see in photos of me. There was a picture of me looking very odd and sort of out of it and a friend’s boyfriend at the time said I looked super hot in that picture. I thought it looked like someone else entirely. Perception is a funny thing. And it changes so much over time. And this is why I ask you all to take more photos! You may not enjoy or appreciate them now, but you will, I promise! I can look at that photo from back when and see the innocence I’d once had. And to look back and actually think, “Wow, I don’t know what that boys’ problem was, I was fucking hot!!!” it’s fun and nice. I think about how far I’ve come since then I have to step back and breathe for a minute. It’s just astounding!
If you’re reading this, you’ve already decided for yourself that there is a better and healthier way to live your life than the bullshit self-hate/diet cycle. You’ve already realized that you’re better than that. You’re on your own journey toward self-acceptance or perhaps you’ve been on your journey for some time now and all of this is old hat. Either way, take more pictures! You don’t have to share them online if you’re not ready, but it is quite fun/exciting/liberating sometimes. No one says you have to take nudie shots or whatever. I’m more talking about capturing moments in time anyway. But whatever you do, just do it for you. Do it for the future you and your future relatives and whatnot, because someone will enjoy them!
I highly recommend practicing taking pictures on your own first. It is how I learned what angle/face/etc looks best or works best for me. I even went out of my way on occasion to take the worst pics ever so as to not repeat later on and to see just how “bad” they could be. This way you also control who has access to those pics and wether or not you’d like to keep or delete them. Gotta love digital cameras! Now I don’t shy away from the camera anymore. In fact, I don’t even shy away from the video camera! I recorded a video of my friends and I singing the other night and I am enjoying the editing process simply because my inner critic seems to be on permanent vacation! I love it!
So, invite some friends over, have a few drinks, bust out the camera and see what happens! It sounds like a super fun time and you should totally invite me over, too! Ha-ha! Seriously though, once you get passed all of the body hate we place upon ourselves, often unwittingly, you can start to appreciate and have fun with this stuff. Try different angles or candid shots or action shots. There is nothing I like to see more than fat-in-action shots! Which, hey, I need to take some of those! Put up a fun/funny background and do silly portraits or corny poses. Wear matching scarves or something and have a blast! Once you start, if you allow yourself some judgment free head space and time, I know you will start to enjoy it, too.
I hope you are ready to experiment, not just with taking pictures, but of trying the other steps in this series. Have you been liking this latest series of posts? Have you tried any of the steps? I would love to hear from you! In fact, I would love some guest posts with your thoughts/experiences/pics/etc from the series.
Please hit me up! notblueatall at notblueatall dot com
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