Thursday, July 13, 2017

Unflattering Photos I'm Still Glad Were Taken

Sometime last summer, I came across the 2013 article/blog post, So You're Feeling Too Fat To Be Photographed.  The timing of my finding it was uncanny because I was at my all-time heaviest and preparing for an upcoming girl's trip to Las Vegas, a trip where I knew there'd be a lot of picture taking.  

I've been heavy for most of my life and, like the author of the article said, I've had many pictures taken of myself over the years that have made me cringe and some even made me sick to my stomach because my round face, double chin, and pudgy middle were permanently documented for all of eternity.  I couldn't stand that there was photographic evidence of what I really looked like during my heaviest moments and  I feared people might actually look at those pictures and say, "Wow, Ericka really has gained weight" when that's exactly what I had done.

A few weeks ago, during my inaugural trip in my brand new kayak, I snapped a selfie to commemorate the event.  It was a fantastic day.  The weather was marvelous and I loved spending time with my friends on the water.  It was peaceful and relaxing and...  perfect.

After downloading the picture from my GoPro, I cringed as soon as I saw it. Why?  Because, despite the visible happiness that the picture captured on my face, despite the fact that I've lost nearly forty pounds and easily fit in the boat, despite the fact that I was kayaking confidently, I still, still zeroed in on my stomach area, which is my ever-persistent trouble spot and of which I'm terribly self conscious.  I'm also, as I'm about to reveal, very critical of myself, too.   The first words that popped in my head were, "I look like a cow."

Later that evening, something made me remember that article and how it really changed my way of of thinking.  I went out to Vegas with a new attitude and made an effort to be more open to having my picture taken; I embraced the images we captured, despite what I may have looked like in them.  And, in the end, the only one caring about how I looked, about whether I looked fat or not, was me.  My friends didn't care what I looked like; what they cared about was that I was with them as we celebrated H's 40th birthday in Las Vegas. 

I admit, those pictures recorded some incredibly fun times, times full of joy and happiness and laughter, times that I'm incredibly thankful to have preserved in photographs.

That's when I took a second look at my kayaking picture and focused on everything except my love handles.  That picture captured how happy I was in that moment and that is what matters most.

The lesson here is simple - Commemorate your life.  The moments that make up a life will continue regardless of how much you weigh, how wrinkled your face may be, whether you're wearing makeup or not, or how bald you are.  The Kodak moments of your life are worth preserving.

So, having said that, here are a few photographs that aren't the most flattering, in my opinion, but for which I'm still glad were taken:

This is a friend of mine from college, who just happened to be in Louisville in 2016 for the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament.  This was the first time we had seen each other in over 20 years and we had a such a fun time that afternoon catching up.

This is my immediate family, minus my husband and my maternal grandmother.  It was taken in the summer of 2015 at a family reunion.  I remember thinking, once I saw it, how I wished I could've been in the back row so my size could've been disguised a little bit.  I was very big during that time, but these are my peeps and I'm very thankful for the picture.

Not the most flattering picture or angle, due to my love handles, but this picture is a trophy.  It was taken last October after I had lost around 20 lbs. It's evidence that I lost enough weight to easily be under the weight limit to zipline with my aunt in West Virginia.  

For the record, no one looks good wearing a floatation device.  LOL!  This is my lifelong best friend, her two girls, and myself on a float trip down the Upper New River several years ago.  My best friend wanted to expose her girls to more adventurous activities and we had such a great time that day.

I was hot, sweaty, and experiencing some terrible chaffing (from all the humidity and clothing friction) when this picture was taken, not to mention that I'm not particularly fond of how I look with my hair pulled back.  But, the important thing is that this picture captured a moment that I never thought I'd have.  Never in a million years would I have imagined that I'd ever visit Japan.

I was at my second all-time heaviest when this picture was taken back in 2006.  It took me a long time before I would even show this picture to anyone, but I eventually shifted my focus from how I looked to what this picture represents - my first ever trip to Europe.  

May you always be open and receptive to having your picture taken, to having your moments preserved.  You are worth it.

As always, thanks for stopping by.


Linking up with Penny's Passion


  1. Bravo! We are all worth it, every time. Preserve those memories. Great post, thank you!

  2. Great post. All that matters is who you are and who you are with, where you are and how much fun you are having. Looks and size doesn't matter.

  3. i just love this post! there are definitely times i've had to tell myself to shut up and look past the me in the photo and think about the actual memory and what i've recorded. such a good reminder!

  4. You have to be happy with in yourself and make the most of life like you do.

  5. What great food for thought! My hubby and I hate having our pictures taken, let alone published for others to see. You've given me a new perspective on the whole issue, especially seeing how happy you are in these photos.


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