Focusing on the best years of your life: high school, college, career, and (of course) family.

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed . . .

Syndicated on BlogHer.com

Listen. I hear you. You’re a few pounds heavier than you like (or a 100lbs heavier than you like). I completely understand how you feel. I get that same blah feeling about myself when I think about booking new head shots or long overdue pictures of me and Justin. Precious, I even picked a career that has me permanently behind the camera rather than in front of it. Seeing myself in pictures actually produces the faintest sick feeling in my stomach. Isn’t it amazing we can see the beauty in our best friends, sisters, mothers, and aunts without the slightest thought to their flaws . . . but can obsess for hours on our own imperfections? We fixate on our flaws to the point we shirk at any documentation that our round faces and curvy bodies ever walked the earth. No pictures to show how we LOVE, how we laugh, how we are treasured by our families. How is it possible that a double chin can overpower the beauty of a mother cuddling her child? How does arm fat distract from the perfect shot of a spontaneous hug? I swear y’all . . . how is it that we can put more value on a TUMMY ROLL than the captivating way you throw yourself into a roar of laughter during a shoot?

In our warped minds pictures become frozen mirrors that we can stare at as we pick apart our features over and over again.
I know girl. I know.

My personal duck-and-cover (or signature “make a funny face”) approach to having pictures of myself changed completely when I had a serious car accident last year (and started over). In the flash of a second (or a flash of the text message the young woman was reading) my entire life changed. I nearly left this earth with no physical evidence of the goofy, wide open and loud love I have for my life, my husband, my family and friends. I haven’t had professional pictures done since our wedding in 2006 . . . always waiting for this elusive moment where I would be thin enough (pretty enough) to have such a permanent record of me. Because, you know, HEAVEN FORBID there be any proof that I look the way I actually look.

So here is the harsh truth y’all. Listen good. Our vanity is no longer enough of a reason to avoid the camera. Life doesn’t wait until you “get thin” enough to capture it. Life is happening . . . it is happening right now and the only moment we are guaranteed is the one we are living. I shudder at the thought of leaving behind no pictures of my life with ME in it. My mom says of the accident she is “just glad that we’re still a whole family.” My gift to her this Christmas was a family portrait showing just that, 9 months post-accident . . . a whole family.

 

Do you know what my mom sees when she looks at this picture? Her beautiful family all together.
Do you know what my husband sees? The family he gained the moment he met me (and how much he looks like my dad…)
Do you know what my dad sees? The happy family he has worked for every day of his life.
Do you know what my brother sees? That he got away with wearing shorts… 🙂

Shocker: No one is looking at how fat I look.

So You're Feeling Too Fat for Pictures? My Friend Teresa Photography Puts it All in Perspective.

Can we agree to put the value of family over the value of fat? Can we just accept that the weight you’ve been trying to lose for 5 years might actually just be a part of what you look like . . . and that if this magical day does come when you’re acceptably thin you’ll STILL regret not having any pictures of you with your kids from ages 5 – 10? Can we acknowledge that the insecurities we have in our heads will never be a part of how our children, husbands, and friends see us? Can we just please let our loved ones remember the YOU they love?

Your children want pictures with their mom.

Your husband wants pictures with his beautiful wife.

Your mom and dad want pictures of the happy, successful, amazing woman they raised (ok, and more pictures of the grandkids while you’re at it)

And if you’re thinking that high school friend on Facebook will say to herself (“wow she has gained weight”) then . . . newsflash you DID. You gained weight. Shed a tear. Read a book. Drink a Sweet Tea. Watch Oprah. Whatever it takes. Accept this reality . . . YOU GAINED WEIGHT. The truth is you’ve gained a lot of other things too (a career, a family, some kids, a house, a love for travel, the ability to coordinate your separetes . . . ) and that girl from high school is going to spend a lot more time hating on those things then she ever will on your double chin.

So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed? . . . Ok. But you’re the only one who notices. The rest of us are too caught up in loving you.

 

49 Responses to “So you’re feeling too fat to be photographed . . .”

  1. Jerry Gamble

    I have to say that I AM one of those larger women who have gained, and lost, and then lost and gained, and gained some more, spiralling ever so nicely up and down like the proverbial yo-yo.
    After reading this letter – and to the author – a hearty congrats on overcoming such a massive obstacle and pain as a car accident – thank you – for pointing out the obvious. Apparently I could not see past the weight to see reality.
    You put it so succinctly about what is important. You are alive, you are ( I hope, getting better)woman, you are Mom, etc.,
    After reading this, I will forget about the fat, perhaps still grimace a tad, but, I will BE in that photograph Thank you so much for sharing your story. Kind regards, Jerry

    Reply
  2. Karen

    Your smile is AMAZING and that’s what I see when I look at your picture! God’s light is shining right through your beautiful smile! I hope your life is filled with many blessings to come. Thank you for sharing your story–it’s powerful!

    Reply
  3. RiverTam

    While I appreciate the sentiment of this post, *I* do not feel like I am pretty enough or thin enough or to be photographed. I actively go out of my way not to have my picture taken because *I* do not like how I look. I know I’ll be forgotten when I’m gone…and that’s ok. I’m not the kind of person who makes a mark on the world. There are far better people who deserve to have their picture taken and remembered. My bones will turn to dust, my flesh will join with soil, and the world will go on without me. Whether or not I have my picture taken doesn’t make a lick of difference in the long run because no one will remember a nobody like me.

    Reply
    • Andee Malarchick

      RiverTam,
      It makes me sad to read these things you say about yourself – so please accept this big digital hug!! You ARE the kind of person who makes a mark on the world. How do you know there are far better people who deserve to have their picture taken and remembered? While its true your bones will turn to dust, your flesh will join with soil, and the world will go on without you, there has never been, nor will there ever be anyone like you on the face of the earth!! God made you extraordinary – absolutely NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! Every time you are kind to someone, you are etched into their memory.
      What qualifies a ‘somebody’? To more people than you can imagine, you are somebody very special!

      Reply
    • Cherree

      RIVERTAM I am so sorry to hear you speak this way about yourself because your writing is eloquent and your picture is of a vibrant young woman. I’m sorry your life does not seem to be going the way you would like but let me assure you, that at least one person will never forget you, even though we have never met. Me. Because out of all these replies, you, yes you, stood out.

      Reply
    • Bethany

      Sweetie, you are one of a kind. You were specially knit together in your mother’s womb and you are the ONLY “YOU” there is and ever will be. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14
      You are being lied to by the evil one. I see your pic. You are beautiful. You WILL be missed one day when you’re gone, and you need to see what amazing woman you are….scripture tells us we are made in Christ’s image. (Genesis 1:27) This is the only chance on this earth you have. Anyone can make a difference in someone’s life and you will be remembered. You are NOT a “nobody”. Did you get that? “You are NOT a nobody!!!!” I’ve felt the way you feel in that I viewed myself not worthy….when I refused to let Satan get in my head, and saw a counselor, I realized my God who made me is being 8nsulted when I call myself or believe I am worthless. Please. Please let this msg. resonate within you. I’m just the avg. girl next door and don’t know you nor you me, but I want you to see the beauty that is in you as a creation of our Savior. Blessings to you.

      Reply
      • Cindy

        Bethany,
        Our God does not create “nobody”, He designs each and everyone of us special, unique, and in His image. He has NEVER ” just made” anyone and NEVER will. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him! We all are individually created special and unique and beautiful in His own unique way……embrace your beauty, inside and out!

        Reply
    • Amy altstatt

      My step-son thought the same thing- that he was nobody, and no one would notice. He took his life in March of this year. Over a hundred people still mourn his death including me. We didn’t even know he had so many friends. HE didn’t know he had so many friends. You’re wrong. You’re so so wrong. People might suck at showing that you matter, but it will make a difference the legacy you leave. Don’t live life thinking you’re no one to anyone. BE someone people will miss- yourself.

      Reply
    • On purpose

      My husband and I volunteer to maintain a community grave yard. We mow and weed etc. one of the things that is most important to us is honoring those graves that are “forgotten.” Those lives meant something. Every life means something even if you never accomplish anything important. It’s about serving others. My guess is that is exactly what you do. Most lives in this world go by uneventful. We have some ups and downs and that’s it. If you ask me, that’s a blessing. I feel good about myself when I give to others.( my time, work, etc) there are people out there that need you. An elderly neighbor, a frazzled new mom, the homeless, the countless folks in hospitals and nursing homes need someone to care. I don’t know you but I feel your words and I care. You just spoke to many people out there who feel what you feel. You are somebody!

      Reply
    • Uncle Beau

      Darlin’ you do not know how you touch other peoples lives. You touch mine right now. You touch your Co workers, friends, family, lots of people. You will be remembered. You are God’s precious gift. Don’t think you are less than perfect, because you are. Uncle Beau

      Reply
    • Ella Hundt

      River Tam, you said that nobody will remember a nobody like you. God created you , so He has a reason for you to be here. You are living. You are breathing, thinking, feeling and communicating with other people. You ARE important, and you DO matter. Life is a special gift from God. He gave you that gift. What you do with the gift of life HE gave you is up to you. What do you want to give back to Him in return? A life well lived caring and helping others in whatever way to can would be nice. A life lived helping others to appreciate the beauty of the world that God created for us to live in and enjoy so that they will take better care of it for future generations to enjoy. A life comforting and soothing the sick and disabled, the lonely, and needy in the world. A life learning and acquiring knowledge and then teaching others. A life smiling and laughing and spreading joy and cheerfulness to others. A life loving and caring for all of your family, loved ones, and friends so their lives are better. There are so many ways to live life to the fullest. Any one of those ways makes your life special. No matter how small, anything you do will make your life worth while and important. You are somebody. God made you for a reason. Smile , fill your heart with love for something ,and someone, and LIVE!

      Reply
    • Chelsea

      Me too. I’m an ugly, worthless monster, and can NEVER look good in any fucking picture I take, no matter how hard I try! I’m just done with pictures. Done.

      Reply
    • Jen

      NOBODY is a NOBODY. You exist and therefore you are special. Whether you know it or not you have touched the lives of others and there is someone thinking of you right now. ME!!! If you feel that you are that insignificant then make a change in your life. Volunteer at an old folks home, help at an animal shelter. Most people don’t give a damn what you look like since it’s your soul that you can share. Never give up on yourself. And if you have someone in your life that tells you this nonsense then you need to get rid of them. And if it’s your own voice then you have the power to change it. Be the positive life force and you will attract more positive life forces to you. And the whole world will be a better place. Because you are in it.

      Reply
    • Cathy

      In Christian love, I would like you to know that God made us each and every one to be unique and special. He knew our names way way before our great grandparents were born.
      I used to feel the same way you do, that I don’t matter. I now choose, since becoming a widow, to believe that I do matter to the people who love me, and that I have a responsibility to give it my best every day to try to make a difference.

      Reply
    • Di McKee

      There is an ad in New Zealand wher a little toddler is sitting doing the I have a nose two eyes tears thousands of hairs BUT there is ONLY ONE ME!
      You are special and unique – there is only ONE you and you will be remembered by those you love and those who love you – right now you are having what our Irish neighbour calls ‘a purple patch’ and this too shall pass.

      So lass pick yourself up dust yourself off – and as they say always look on the bright side of life !

      Reply
  4. Bridget

    First I have to say I am shocked that there are only 2 comments on your blog entry! I know for a fact your words are resonating with a lot of people because I have seen it shared and liked multiple times! I am one of those women who it has hit home with. I have gone from petite to plus size and felt so much shame. Not from my husband or friends ..although it really does seem as though people don’t photograph you as much…….really it’s been shame from within myself. I’m done with that my kids love me and want me to be documented in their lives! I have forced myself to be in photographs throughout the “fat” years and it showed on my face..I want to show the joy I feel in my kids and my life and my fabulous husband! I’m working towards being healthier etc.. but have realized to be healthy physically is to be health emotionally…..sounds trite but it’s true….It truly is a revelation to realize you are here and alive and people love you, there is so much beauty in the world and so what you are heavier than you want to be. Just live your life.

    Reply
  5. Ann

    Most of my adult life I’ve been quite fat and would only keep photos that flattered me. Like my mother before me my hair started thinning at menopause, and that just compounded my angst. Then last year my beautiful souse was diagnosed with cancer. I spent many days in the company of women with little or no hair. Some proudly displayed heads, some adorned with scarves or hats. Fewer wigs than I expected. I came to get pretty philosophical about hair–and then fat. I figure that as long as I am alive, loving, laughing, and loved I am just fine. So, take my picture.

    Reply
  6. Bethany

    I am sobbing. Thank you so much for this. I am a 28 year old currently plus size girl (thank you thyroid and adrenals) who is on the brink of starting life with an amazing man who loves me the way I am. And these are words I needed to read, as I constantly shy away from the camera, even though I love taking pictures. Haha

    Reply
  7. Michele

    This was such a beautiful article and I wish I had read it when I did not have pictures taken of me with my family over the years…I still hate my picture taken but will, from now on, remember your words and have those pictures taken. Thank you!

    Reply
  8. Karen

    “In our warped minds pictures become frozen mirrors that we can stare at as we pick apart our features over and over again.
    I know girl. I know.” – That really hit home. Thank you so much for your insight and wisdom.

    Reply
  9. Selene

    I too am an artist/photographer and find myself always the one behind the photos. You are so right. Thank you for writing this. You have many talents including writing!

    Reply
  10. Julie S

    So happy for your recovery, and THANK YOU for posting this. Last year, I lost a dear friend of 35 years at the age of 48 all of a sudden. I searched for photos of she and I together and couldn’t find one. There were many many with her and the others who loved her. She was always smiling, always happy to be who she was and with people who loved her. But, I was always too concerned that I looked too fat, too ugly, etc to be in a photo. That has changed. My friends will have photos of me from now on. My children will know that their mom will jump in to a photo with them any time that they want. I love my friends and my family and my life and want to always be remembered that way. Thank you, thank you!

    Reply
  11. Bethany

    So powerful. I’ve witnessed friends who have had loved ones die, and begin looking for pics of themselves with their loved one and can only find a few and they’re dated and iN bad condition etc….I see my mom and sister specifically ducking out of a photo….or standing in the back, etc. If they only knew how beautiful they are….don’t get me wrong, I’m not real keen on pics either, but I woke up and realized I won’t get today again…my 2 daughters will be grown in the blink of an eye….what if there were no pics to reminisce with all bc of my insecurity? ….

    Reply
  12. Robin Davis

    I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story. You have touched my heart and knocked some common sense into me <3

    Reply
  13. Lucy

    Hiding from the camera also happens to (mostly) women as we age. I worked for a hospice program for over 30 years and early on I noticed at funerals that there would be scads of photos of the deceased as kids, when they were young, than for awhile as they got older, but mysteriously at a “certain age” when eyelids droop, chins lose their shape, necks get folds…no more photos. Like the last bits of our lives disappear.

    Thank you for your thoughtful plea to capture precious moments when we can. To love ourselves, even if we don’t always love our choices of how we take care of, and what we put into our bodies. I found a system to be more mindful of my own health in that way, but too many of my dear relatives and friends’ brilliant selves are deeply hidden in shame. Which of course perpetuates the behaviors. Free ourselves of that shame and you never know, we might free our bodies of what doesn’t serve them.

    Reply
  14. Janis Foley

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder… As Sue Bryce says… “Exist in pictures…” It really would be sad to go on with life not being captured for who you are… Besides, I think you look beautiful! <3

    Reply
  15. Miranda

    I see that is a few years old, but I have to post a comment. My 10 year old son is fighting cancer, and since he began his battle a year and a half ago, I have gained 60+ lbs. We have a photo session scheduled for tomorrow and I was thinking maybe I would just have the kids in it by themselves. I googled “too fat for pictures” and found this. The “your children want pictures with their mom” line brought tears and put me squarely in my place. Thank you so much for writing this. Seriously.

    Reply
  16. Teresa Hill

    …so I typed in “feeling too fat to be photographed” because we decided last minute to have a Christmas card made THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING! It was the only time the photographer could get us in, and since we are a large family, coordinating schedules is a nightmare. Not only did your article come up, but it read “my friend Teresa.” Well, I am Teresa, with no h I might add, so I opened the article. I am so glad I did. Your sentiments are exactly how I feel. I have 5 kids, but I am in very few photos. I am who I am…thank you!

    Reply
  17. Tammy

    Oh boy first let me start by saying good for you! OK I use to b told by my mother she was going to put me in the hospital for being to skinny, but then as soon as I started gaining weight my father pointed it out at every corner in not a nice way. My health took a drastic turn, I was carrying for a child with a life long chronic disease, & my mom was dying from breast cancer. During that time I went from under 100lbs to 180lbs & stopped taking pictures most of my kids life. Some of it was my health & denial but some was not wanting to be in pictures because of the way I looked because I was a runner, did step aerobics etc… N now my mobility was being taken so depression is part of it. But when my mom died & we were trying to find photos of her I realized she did the same thing when she had gained weight, after she got cancer n lost weight she took her pictures more because she was thin but she looked sick not like the mom I grew up with so that kicked me in to reality I make it a point not to just take the pictures which is part of the problems with moms we are always behind the camera n dads don’t think to trade places but its because usually we say no. But now I hand the camera off n say take 4 or 5 I will pick a few. My husband can’t use a camera so he always asks me a question then takes a picture n my mouth is open or my eyes r closed because I was answering him. Ugh. But the point is you r spot on!! I’m a GMA now n we take selfies was looking at a selfie stick because I walk with a cane n my stability is shaky n 2 &4 yr olds r fast lol

    Reply
  18. Ashley

    I love this! I love pictures– from both sides of the camera– and you are right, we are who we are and people love us regardless! We are our own toughest critic and it shouldn’t be that way. You look great and I’m glad you took the time to write this post. Thank you and happy holidays!

    Reply
  19. Brenda

    Thank you for your blog. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve been up & down with my weight for my entire life and am now at my heaviest. I’m disgusted with myself. I know my brother & father are. If anyone else in my family is they don’t show it. Thank you for reminding me of the beauty we each posess. I am going to force myself to be in pictures with my children. Thank you for your gift of words & pictures.

    Reply
  20. Sheena

    What a wonderful post. You are so right. I am usually behind the camera and I am trying to be in front of it more. Even if I don’t like how I look, I do want my children to have pictures of their mom. My mother in law, hates to have her picture taken. I try to respect that but it makes me sad that we don’t have that many pictures of her. You are so right, when we look at pictures of our loved ones, we don’t see the flaws just them. Thank you for writing this. I think there are many people that need to hear it.

    Reply
  21. Tiff

    Wow…all I can saw. This resonates with me because I’ve never felt Enough. Never pretty enough, never nice enough, don’t make enough money, my house, my cars, etc…the list is endless. I’m not in photos because I hate the way I look. My breasts are too small, my butt is too small “for a black girl” (btw, that’s my personal fav), I have too many grey hairs, I’m “too skinny” (umm yeah, I have health issues, my face is too angular. All I can say is thank you. I’m trying to remember that I’m “complete in Him! Which is the head of all prinicipality and power.” I’m working on being enough, because He says I am.

    Reply
  22. Tamara Bonshire

    I feel exactly like the author feels. I also have always had poor bidy image, I have always felt fat. Sorting thru old pictures I realize niw that I was never fat, it was just in the head. Now I’m in my 60’s & really do have 30 lbs or so that I could afford to lose. I hate to get my picture taken. I’m going to keep this article & read it whenever I feel like hiding from the camera.

    Reply
  23. Danielle K

    This hit home with me too! I was always “chubby” as a kid and that carried on into college. I did lose about 20 pounds due to a broken heart, and stayed in the right area for quite some time. Even went way too low for a time – it was my way of having some control of an uncontrollable situation. But now I’m in my middle 50s and chubby again…complete with the waddle under my chin. I hate having my picture taken – all I see is my chubby middle and my fat chin. For my health, I do need to lose some weight and be more active. And I want to be around to be grandma sometime in the future. You are a beautiful young woman with a great smile and a great sense of fashion, if I do say so. Thank you for saying what I think a lot of us need to hear…what I need to hear.

    Reply
  24. Erma Zurita

    Many years ago, I was quite camera shy because of my weight. Like you, something happened and now the way I see photos is like yours. With photos we document our own history; our lives, our loves, our passions, our dreams. I always take several photos now and find the one i like the best. I hope to get selfies with every friend I have and will ever have. 😉

    Reply
  25. Laura

    I wish this were true in my case. Most of the people in my life do notice that I’m fat and some won’t even take pictures with me because of it. Some don’t invite me to parties or family get togethers because they are ashamed of me. I see pictures of them with other family members on the holidays or birthday parties but they either “forgot” their camera or totally avoid me at our home. Sad thing is I think they know how bad it hurts me and they don’t care. Sometimes a few family members will go to dinner or just hang out and they post selfies, when I go no one takes selfies. I took some once but the other family member was reluctant to be in the picture then they told me not to post it.

    Reply
    • Cathy

      You are wonderfully made. Dont let anyone tell you otherwise. The same Father who created the stars felt that life was incomplete without you. Talk to Him.

      Reply
  26. Teri

    I’m the one who will only show a face shot…I just had a friend take down a picture of me on Facebook because I looked “too bulky”. I now realize the insanity of it all. I think I will be brave and take some pics of me the way I really look and stop trying to hide my reality. I know I am more than the shape of my body..I know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. No more hiding…be brave…be you..be awesome just the way you are! Great article..thank you!

    Reply

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About My Friend Teresa

Teresa Porter

My Friend Teresa Studios is a boutique portrait studio in Cary, NC specializing in high school, teen, family and child photography that shows everyone from the camera-shy to the goof-ball at their best. Principle photographer, Teresa, has been recognized by Rolling Stone Magazine and published on The Huffington Post.

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