I’m uploading lots of pictures to my work’s Facebook page right now, and in doing so am looking through the past year’s worth of photos of me. It got me thinking about getting my picture taken. I used to hate it with the fire of a thousand suns. As in, there is a period starting toward the end of college and through the next few years (I’d say 5 or so?) with virtually NO pictures of me.
I heard somewhere recently that when people (mostly women-identified folks) look over pictures that are just taken to decide if it’s a good shot, they look only at themselves and ignore the rest of the people in the picture. We are obsessed with coming across as “perfect” in photos. One slight imperfection and it’s a heinous piece of trash that needs to be deleted immediately. I’m certainly guilty of that kind of thinking, and while I get my picture taken now and don’t cringe like I used to, it can still be a struggle for me to not immediately go into fix-it mode.
Double chins. That dreaded phrase. It’s the first thing my eyes would go to anytime I looked at a picture of myself. Well, that and my arms, and my broad shoulders, and my short legs, and just all of the damn space I took up! I’m a whale! Clearly, this is some harmful behavior and it’s something I still struggle with sometimes. I remember someone telling me to tilt my head forward a little bit in pictures to get rid of that horrifying, earth-shatteringly awful double chin (/sarcasm). I confess that I still do it. It feels wrong to even type that out. How can I be moving forward in a journey to fat and size acceptance when I still feel the need to try and contort my body to fit into a more socially acceptable vision of beauty? The two feel incongruous to me. It’s not as though I go walking around every day with my head tilted forward so that no one can see the hideousness that is my double chin.
I’ve done only one OOTD here, and my apprehension about my own image in pictures is certainly a big part of the reason why. Over at The Rotund, Marianne talks about the importance of taking our picture, of normalizing our bodies so that they don’t feel like some sort of scary monster who must remain hidden. I certainly agree. Those of us who are fat are defying a systemic hatred of OMGFATZOBESITY just by existing. That’s pretty powerful stuff, when you think about it. But it’s important to take it a step further and not just exist, but to put yourself out there proudly if you want. One way I’m doing that is by trying very hard not to jump back into my old habits of tearing myself down when I look at pictures. Yup, in some pics I have my eyes half closed, or am making a weird face, or don’t have all my lumps and bumps smoothed out. And while this may not seem like a piece of radial activism, it is radical to me. And right now that’s what I’m after.
What about you all? Did you refuse to be photographed like me? What shifted? Or has a shift not happened yet? Do you take pics of yourself on a regular basis? I know that for me, just looking through pics of other fatties on blogs and on Tumblr has been absolutely mind-blowingly fantastic. Some day I would like to join those ranks.