This holiday season, I implore you to get over your self-criticism and allow your photo to be taken again and again and again. Stop holding up your hand and cringing or yelling, “My hair looks like crap!” or “Please don’t take pictures of me while I’m wearing my fat pants!” or “My makeup didn’t turn out right!”
Here are a few important facts for you:
1. NO ONE ELSE sees you the way you see you. NO ONE ELSE is looking at you thinking, “Heavens, why did she bother to come to this celebration looking so ugly/fat/tired?” NO ONE is hoping you will opt out of the family photos because, oh my god, you just look too ugly. They don’t see the list of flaws that make up the lens through which you see yourself. They see YOU. They see their loved one. They see someone they are happy to spend time with. (Though make no mistake, they probably wouldn’t mind you bitching a lot less about how ugly you are and how you don’t want your picture taken.)
2. People want to record memories of the big events – holidays and celebrations. They want to remember the feeling of being with their loved ones and the joy and warmth of those moments. When they want you to be the subject of their photographs, this is one of the ways they express their love for you. Don’t shut them down with “Get that camera away from me” just because you feel bad about the way you look.
3. The way you feel about the way you look is YOUR responsibility. You do not have to feel ashamed of your appearance no matter how overweight you are, no matter how little makeup you are wearing, no matter how frizzy your hair is, no matter how many pimples you have. You have a choice to love and accept yourself in any given moment and to give your time, energy and attention to other, more important things, like enjoying your time with your family.
4. When you opt out of family photographs during celebrations, you deprive your loved ones of creating and collecting memories of you that they will cherish their whole lives. You are also setting a standard for the younger generation that it’s okay to be so unhappy with the way you look that you refuse to be the subject of photographs. So first of all, do you want your children or other family members to have pictures of their life events most of which fail to feature one of their favorite faces? And secondly, do you want to see your daughters and nieces grow up to shun the camera, to opt out of every photographic opportunity because they didn’t do their hair or because they feel fat? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that your behavior and words will have no effect on them.
5. If none of those changed your perspective then how about this: You know, deep in your heart, that ten years from now, you will regret having hundreds of family photographs that feature every family member except you. And more than that, I think you also know deep in your heart that in that same hypothetical future, if you DO allow your photo to be taken when you feel less-than-beautiful, you will look at those pictures and see such joy – you’ll see the happiness you were all feeling, the warmth, the togetherness. You’ll remember every moment. And you’ll have that passing moment of thinking, “Why did I feel ugly that day? I was so beautiful!”
So stop whining about how bad you look, squish in there with your friends and family members, throw your shoulders back and smile. Let them take the picture and be joyful.