Until relatively recently, that was pretty easy to do. Before every cell phone had a built in camera, before selfies and instagram (follow me!), you could really get away with avoiding photos. Only photography nerds (like me) used to carry around cameras, and it was mostly for capturing the raw beauty of a dead pigeon on Avenue A.
Sometimes the fact that everything gets photographed or video-ed really bugs me. (I can’t be the only one who’s been at a concert and wanted to say to the tall dude in front of me, “Hey, how about putting your camera down and just watching the show right now?”)
And yet, I also see it as an interesting opportunity to reclaim your self image. If you sort of go with it, you can actually use things like selfies as a tool to improve your body image.
How To Improve Your Body Image With Photos
Action Step #1: Take Some Really Bad Photos Of Yourself On Purpose — Whip out your phone or camera, and take a ton of pics of yourself. I’m talking in the hundreds. Take them from weird angles. Make funny faces. You can do this with a friend too. You may even want to do this a couple of times over the course of a week or a month. Do not skip this step!
What This Does: When you take “bad” photos of yourself, you get used to your own image. You start to realize that “good” or “bad” pics are all about angles, lighting, expression and not really about you. (Remember, even when models are shot for print ads, hundreds of images are taken, then one is chosen and airbrushed to death.) When you do this process, you get less upset when someone else takes a less than flattering photo of you. You’ll be less triggered when you catch yourself reflected in a storefront. You may even have fun with your image for the first time.
Action Step #2: Take Some Selfies And Post Them — Now, try to take some “good” photos. Think about your “bad” photo experiment and avoid taking pictures from those weird angles. Give yourself time to play around with lighting, angles, makeup, etc. And then, post those pics! If you don’t want them to be public, use privacy settings so that only certain friends can see them. You’ll probably get a lot more positive comments than you expect.
What This Does: This does two things. First, it allows you to control your public image. You get to put out the world images of yourself that make you feel good. Second, you get positive feedback from friends who will cheer you on and, at the very least, “like” your image.
“Photos are about memories and experiences, not just how you look or what you weigh.”
Action Step #3: Join A Body-Positive, Photo-Sharing Community — There are so many great tumblrs of regular folks showing off fatshion, generally being body positive, outfits of the day (ootd’s), and just pics of themselves being fat and exciting. (And don’t forget about Fatshionable Apples!)
What This Does: Looking at tumblrs like this normalizes bodies that you don’t normally see in everyday media. It’s a wonderful counterbalance to the very thin images you see every day. And you get a wonderful sense of community by looking at and responding to posters’ images. You may find it empowering to submit your own images too.
Don’t Forget This Mindset Shift
Photos are about memories and experiences, not just how you look or what you weigh. When you look at your photos, don’t just scrutinize your face and body. Think about what you were doing, who you were with, what was going on in the moment.
When you’re more willing to join in pictures, not only do you get an opportunity to preserve a memory, but your friends and loved ones get that too. They want you in their pictures. You’re part of that memory. Let yourself jump in and say a big, cheesy, “Cheese!”
FYI: The Summer Of Body Love Starts TODAY! This is your last chance to get in on it from the beginning. Go here to check it out
Golda is a certified holistic health counselor and founder of Body Love Wellness, a program designed for plus-sized women who are fed up with dieting and want support to stop obsessing about food and weight. To learn more about Golda and her work, click here.
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