Hate Your Body? Take *More* Pics!

My friends may have regretted letting me play their "reindeer games."

My friends may have regretted letting me play their “reindeer games.”

I used to really avoid being in photos.

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.

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

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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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17 thoughts on “Hate Your Body? Take *More* Pics!

  1. A lot of body-positive sites and blogs are doing posts on the power of selfies these days, there must be something in the air! Especially since I discovered a some weeks ago how to make my webcam work and can take photos of myself in a quick – albeit dodgy quality – fashion.

    I don’t have as many photos of myself as I’d like from when I was about 13-14 untill now (almost 22). That can only be attributed to my low self-esteem. It’s a shame really, considering all the different haircolors and hairstyles I’ve had during all those years that aren’t properly documented. There’s maybe a photo or two of each, but I’d like to have more.
    I really like what you say about controlling your own public image by submitting selfies to, say, facebook. I fixed it so no one but myself can see photos of me because the ones that were up made me cringe. I’ve had plans about indulging in taking selfies for years but never managed to get past the planning stage till now, so I hope to have a facebook album with nice photos of myself. I really want to have pictures of myself and not have my funeral like that other persons ex-mother in law :'(

  2. A couple of years ago, I took a picture of myself every day in a full-length mirror and posted them in an app limited to a few supportive friends. At first, it was hard. I seem to have… reverse body dysmorphia: in my head, I’m smaller than I really am. It did start to look/feel “normal,” but I’d miss a day (or six) and eventually stopped.

    I should start again. I’ll need to get another full-length mirror… :)

  3. I admit, I like taking pictures of myself in private lol. But now I don’t feel so “shameful” about it. I mean, why should I?? For the past several years, I’ve been so hard on myself and was in a very unhealthy relationship with someone who cared more about how I looked than about me. I deserve to feel good about myself! And I’ll do what I can to get there.

  4. I LOVE taking pictures of myself. It took me awhile to get there, though. I like having all the memories and sometimes it is fun to pose with family and friends. Like most things, it’s a journey.

  5. when it comes to others taking yr picture, consent is so important no matter what they say their reason is. after all, u wldn’t do that to them either. it brings the whole issue down to an equal level.

  6. I totally agree with this advice! I started a beauty blog and it makes me feel beautiful to share my manis/makeup/outfits. In fact, my husband LOVES it when I dress up *wink* and pose for pictures ;).

    However a few members of my family–including my mother–attacked me for doing this, saying I was “desperate for attention” (um, let’s see I’m married for 20 yrs, 2 kids and get on the average 2 comments per post lol) But it hurt like hell. I shut down another blog (based on my health problems) because….well it hurt when someone bullies you and that someone is your MOM. Someone who is supposed to love you unconditionally.

    I don’t love pictures of me taken by other ppl, or “unposed” but pictures by my husband–they rock :) And so do I!

    1. That’s a real shame that your family isn’t more supportive/understanding. I know that feeling… like “you’re supposed to LOOK pretty, but if you act like you KNOW you’re pretty, that’s somehow NOT good.” Do this for YOU!

  7. When my ex-mom-in-law died, there were no photos of her as she would not allow any to be taken. They blew up her driver’s license photo for her funeral, y’all! I immediately started letting people take my picture. Now I love taking pictures with friends. My daughter recently took a full body shot of me. I was horrified at the concept. You know what? My “concept” was much worse than the photo. I thought I looked great and was so pleasantly surprised. Rock on!

  8. I’d say this totally works! For sewing my own clothes (that fit!) and with the help of my DH, we made a dressmaker’s dummy on me so she closely matches my shape. At first I was kind of shocked that I really looked like that! Now she looks perfectly natural to me and my sewing and fitting skills have improved immensely along with my self-esteem. However I need to work on my self-photography skills in order to document my makes better. My dummy is usually the one who gets to wear everything for the photos! Maybe I should have made her some arms so she could hold the camera? ;)

  9. Wow! These are great thoughts. I recently had to gain weight to get healthier and made lots of progress in being body positive but cameras and dressings room still freak me out. I will definitely try and use these tips!

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