You oughtta be in pictures

Last week a client mentioned to me topic at the forefront of many blogs geared towards mothers, and a quick google search netted this Huffington Post article from 2012.

Mothers avoiding getting in pictures with their kids. Mothers avoiding getting in pictures period.

I stopped for a minute, surprised. 

“Think about it,” she said. “How many pictures do you have of you with your mom? I know I don't have many with mine.”

Not many. The still photos are few and far between. High school graduation, prom, college graduation. Maybe one or two of me as a baby. 

I can remember getting a video camera in high school - and I have plenty of footage of Mom running to another room until I swore the camera was off. 

“It’s off!’ I’d shout. She'd peer through the door. 

“The red blinking light is on!!”

Busted. 

It’s not only mothers who avoid the camera; people, men and women and alike, look at every picture of themselves with nasty critiques of their appearance. I know I'm guilty of it.  

“I look like a whale.”

“I have 16 chins.”

“Why didn’t anyone tell me that my chin hair was so long I could tie it in a knot?”

Older, grayer, heavier - we don’t see a zit on our chin when we look at pictures. We see the acne that haunted us through all of high school. But what are we missing out on by staying behind the camera? And what message are we sending to the younger generations who hear us making these comments aloud?

How many photographic moments are we sacrificing to the harsh self-judgement we hammer on ourselves day in and day out? 

Photos and videos are important because they jog our memories. I know my mom and grandmothers were around me a lot as a kid. I know they were at birthday parties and holidays. But knowing that is different than seeing a photo of me sitting on my Dad's lap and remembering that he blew the candles out with me. 

I don’t have kids. But I have a niece and nephew that I think are pretty awesome. 

As they get older, I’d like them to have evidence that I got down on the floor and played with them. Or that I got in the pool in a sports bra and my brother's gym shorts because I didn't have a bathing suit. I have some very unflattering pictures of myself with the two of them. I see the bad hair, the awful tan line, the sports bra from 1997 that I should probably throw out. But I hope when they look at those pictures years from now that they will remember the fun. 

Looking at photos of yourself without judgment is more than just hard; it is a life-long practice. But allowing yourself to get into pictures so that your family and friends and kids especially can think of you as the fun, loving, kind person that you are is worth the trade off.