This topic has been on the tip of my tongue for a little while now but I haven’t wanted to face up to it, until now, I want to talk about photos. Last Christmas Eve was the day that I decided to first delve into the realm of self-love and body acceptance. I’d found a whole host of body positivity focused Instagram accounts across the festive season, I felt better rooted in my beliefs towards diets and my relationship with my body, and I was ready to take the next step. I decided to post a photo of myself sat on my bed, stomach relaxed and there started my quest to post real images of my body. In doing so, I slowly felt liberated and freedom around the way my body looked and I loved that along the way, people were identifying with me and finding comfort in seeing a body they could relate to.
But, I need to admit something..
I was curating these images. I was choosing which I would post out of a bunch I’d taken and showing the audience the image that I thought I looked best in whilst my captions read about accepting yourself for who you are. I was willing to show my body unfiltered but in reality, I was choosing the photo in which I looked the smallest. I was still holding my body to an unrealistic standard by contorting myself to look as I wanted – I didn’t mind that my rolls were in shot as long as they looked “cute”. This continued for a while, although I was getting gratification from sharing in this way, in reality I was dissatisfied and I had to face up my internalized fat phobia in order for this mindset to shit. (Side note: As long as you fear putting on weight or living in a fat body your relationship with food and your body will suffer). I began exploring my body from a variety of angles and not only posting photos where I had posed in a certain way. I began to revolutionize my relationship with my body by no longer trying to edit myself in any way because I am perfect as I am and you are perfect as you are. But, the issue here is the control I have over that image. I can take a photo of myself and post it but in reality, I am still choosing how I sit or stand, the angle, how I’m presented aaaand, at the end of the day, I get to choose if that photo is released into the Instagram ether. Having control over things is something that has played a huge part of my life, I spoke about this in my last post , and this is why I am cool with photos of myself being posted if I get to take them but I’m most definitely not okay e.g. palms sweating, distracted mind, snappy mood when I get a notification saying that someone has tagged me in a photo on Facebook.
I felt like all my dreams had come true when the option came in for me to choose what goes on my timeline. I decided to do this under the guise of hiding inappropriate posts from work colleagues when in reality my number one priority was making sure that I could screen my friend’s photos. I’d click away, hiding things left, right and center. I felt less care towards the fact that these photos exist on my friend’s profiles and instead, completely obsessed in making sure that my profile only showed images of me that I was 100% happy with. Facebook sure has it’s negative sides but one of the reasons I still use it is to keep in touch with friends across the globe, to share photos that bring me joy and yes, laugh at a meme or two (more like 1000) which me and my friends constantly tag each other in. Yet, I managed to turn it into something that brought me mega amounts of anxiety. I became frustrated with myself because how could I be proudly posting photos of myself in my underwear on Instagram, yet freaking out if a photo of my double chin appeared on Facebook? Because, I wasn’t in control and that sent me into an absolute tailspin.
A photo is an incredible way to capture a moment, a feeling, an emotion. It shouldn’t be a chance to start picking yourself apart, berate yourself for the way you look or feel any guilt or shame around who you are, at all. You should look at that photo and think “Ah we were having the best time that night” and not “Oh wow my teeth look crooked and I need to lose 10lbs and I need to ask my friend to delete this so no-one else can see how horrible I look” (the latter is the sort of thing that was commonplace for me). Side note: PEOPLE LOOKING AT YOUR PHOTOS DO NOT SEE WHAT YOU SEE. They purely see you, the whole of you & not all of the things that you view as “flaws”. When you look at a friend’s photo what do you think? Do you immediately look at her stomach and try and work out how much she weighs and if her teeth are crooked or if her thighs look jiggly? NO! You think about the moment that photo has captured and people looking at photos of you are doing the very same. So, I’m sorry friends of Facebook who have tried to share a photo & I have hidden it. I’m sorry that I couldn’t see beyond the way I was looking to celebrate what we were doing at that time and I promise that things are going to change. You can’t only chose to like yourself if you’re looking at a photo that has been planned. You have to learn to like yourself in your rawest moments, the one where you’re caught off guard, pulling some crazy shapes or downing a pint. Those moments are the moments that matter. Those are the things that you’re gonna want to remember when you’re old and grey. You don’t want to look back and only think “Wow I nailed that selfie”, you want to have a whole load of photos to look through and share with family and remember the freakin’ good times you had. By the way, I think Selfies are SO BRILLIANT for self-esteem and self love but you have to appreciate yourself from all view points in order to reach true happiness with yourself, and here endeth the lesson.
So what am I doing about it?
Firstly, I’ve deleted the Facebook apps from my phone – mainly because I want to disconnect from the social media platform a little more and only use it when I’m in a good head space. Although I still have the tag checker active on my profile, I am vowing to allow all photos of me including the double chins, the throw backs, the belly rolls, the crooked teeth. ALL PHOTOS. The only exception of this is if for some reason a photo is taken of me that is so offensive it absolutely cannot go public, but I have nice friends and my idea of a wild night is staying up watching Netflix until gone midnight so the likelihood of this happening is extremely slim. There is such power in facing your problems straight on so, here I go!