The Women Behind the Photo

One of my favorite things to do from time to time is to go through pictures from the past.  Every since I was little I would grab the photo albums and beg my parents to tell me stories about what I saw in the pictures.  Even now I find myself going through the photos on my Instagram account or that I’ve posted on Facebook to reminisce about the events or moments recorded.

Growing up and looking at photos, I would often question why my mom would not appear in the pictures with us.  Her reply was simply that her role was to be behind the camera and capture those moments.  Now that I am a mother, I am finding myself not in quite as many pictures.  But it’s not because I feel as though my role is to be behind the camera to capture those moments.  It’s because I am hyper critical of how I look in those photos.  And now that I am a mother, I am not quite as comfortable with the way that I look.  I feel as though I always have bags under my eyes, because I feel exhausted most of the time.  I have curves and rolls of fat that weren’t there before.  My hair has started to turn grey, and I don’t like the way the camera can make me look.

Beauty and the way that I look is something that I have struggled with, like many of us women, from the time I was a teenager.  I definitely had an ugly duckling phase growing up, and there was a group of girls that only made that period of my life during high school even worse.  In college I gained almost 50 pounds, and the way that I looked coming out of college was less than desirable by our society’s standards of beauty.

But how does one define beauty?  What do we use as our measuring tool as to whether something is beautiful?

Recently I watched the latest video release by Dove and their beauty campaign Selfies.  I’d highly encourage you to look this up and watch it.  The project challenges both moms and daughters to take selfies, and then they post them in an exhibit.  People then had an opportunity to look at the photos and write the things that made them unique and beautiful.  It is interesting in many cases how their viewpoint changed about themselves, when the things that made them feel self-conscious, were the things that other women pointed out to them as what set them apart.

It made me view myself differently too.  Those bags under my eyes, are a reminder of how much love I have for my kiddos, that I make sacrifices in getting enough sleep myself to check on a child who has been up sick or crying in the middle of the night.  Those stretch marks that have appeared following the pregnancy of my daughter are a reminder to me of the amazing miracle of life that my body was able to carry.  The strands of hair that are starting to turn grey are a reminder of all the experiences that I am gaining through my life and the wisdom and growth that has come in my faith.

So ladies, especially moms.  Don’t be afraid to step out from behind the camera and be in the photos with your kids.  They won’t care that you still have your jammies on, or that your hair isn’t done or your makeup is half washed off from the day before.  All they will see looking back on all those photos are the memories that you helped them create, and your beauty that you shared with them 🙂

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