Just Take the Picture – You Don’t Need to Look Thinner

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The other day, I saw a blog post on Pinterest that was a how-to guide for posing yourself to look thinner in pictures. I clicked on it eagerly. With an extra 20 pounds of baby weight still hanging on, I was hungry for those tips.

I started reading and became gradually less and less comfortable. She had some interesting ideas, nothing I hadn’t heard before, but she punctuated every piece of advice with a candid example photo of someone who *hadn’t* followed her instructions, and by her standards looked “way” bigger than they needed to.

I was suddenly struck by how, if she hadn’t pointed out any of the wrongs, I would have only seen women smiling, hugging, laughing, participating. My increasing discomfort turned sourly to disgust. WHY does the size of a person need to be the focal point of any photo? Are we doing ourselves a disservice by nitpicking our bodies instead of appreciating the brevity of the moment?

I, therefore, submit to you, four reasons you do NOT need to look thinner in photos:

1. You do not exist to become smaller.

Health does not equate to a smaller size. Worth does not equate to a smaller size. Your body is more than its size. YOU are more than the size of your body. Most of us need to say these things to ourselves over and over and over again in order to start to undo the damaging cultural messages we’ve learned about our bodies. 

2. The people who matter won’t notice.

Your partner won’t notice your size in the picture; they will notice your smile. Your kids won’t notice your size in the picture; they will remember how your arms made them feel safe. The friends who love you won’t notice your size in the picture; they’ll remember how hard you laughed that night. 

3. Your presence matters more than your appearance. 

The last thing any of us want to do is sacrifice precious memories for the sake of our own insecurities. Motherhood generally means you end up taking more pictures than you’re in, unless you have a particularly well-trained Instagram Spouse. But when I’m old and gray, I know I won’t look back on any pictures of me enjoying my family and wish my upper arm wasn’t so prominent. Be present, let the moment be captured in all its authentic glory.

4. You are beautiful the way you are.

I’ll leave you with an exercise: say this out loud to yourself: “I am beautiful, I am enough.” Again, a little louder. “I am beautiful, I am enough.” Now say it to yourself every day when you look in the mirror, until you believe it. We are doing the work of healing our children of the toxic body culture in which we’ve been raised. Let’s not counteract it with harmful messages about which pose is “right” for our body type. 

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