Pictures are a b*tch aren’t they? You can feel like a million bucks, but then you see yourself in a photo and think “Is that what I really look like?” Why does that happen and how can we stop it?
Photos invite criticism. These two-dimensional reflections of ourselves carry so much weight with our self-esteem that they can make or break our day, let alone our long-term feelings about our body image. And, for many of us, looking at old photos is a walk down “diet memory lane”. Oh look, that’s when I wasn’t eating carbs…or avocados…or enough of anything. So even though you may have been miserable at the time, we look at those old photos through rose coloured glasses. So, is it even possible to see photos of our changing selves and NOT immediately start to criticize every aspect?
The next time you’re looking at a photograph of yourself, keep these things in mind:
1. EVERYONE sees their perceived flaws first. Our eyes are drawn to any aspect of our physical self that we struggle to like or love. It could be our hair colour, eyebrows, nose or belly. And just like the stain on your shirt that you’re convinced everyone can see, chances are you’re the only only focusing on it. And, there may be psychological influences at play as well.
2. Before you look at a picture, give yourself a reality check. Candid pictures are unplanned and spontaneous, which is exactly how they’re meant to be! So, it probably means your shirt will be a little wrinkled, hair out of place, and may show off your “bad side”. Stop yourself from going down the road of self-loathing by picking out all the things you like about the picture first. Remember the setting, what you were doing, admire your dress, or shoes, or even your smile.
3. Keep your eye on the prize. We take pictures because we want to remember the moment. Pictures don’t exist to serve as evidence of our physical features, so try to take them at face value keeping in mind that angles, lighting, and background can dramatically affect what’s reflected in a picture.
You’re a work in progress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been working at this for 10 days or 10 years, chances are you won’t love every picture you see of yourself. And that’s ok. Keep on’ keeping on.