The camera lies.
How we look in an image depends on so many things…the angle the photograph was taken, the light in the scene, the lens the photographer uses. There are subtle changes and distortions in every image, changes that can be more flattering or less complimentary to anyone in front of the lens.
The problem is that the brain accepts that photo as ultimate truth and then we alter our perception of ourselves, and usually NOT for the better.
“Oh God! When did my face get so fat?” I remember thinking to myself after letting my daughter play with my camera a few weeks ago. I took that photograph, taken by a five year old laying on the ground with a $2000 camera she knows nothing about, and made it my reality.
What’s even worse is the camera doesn’t tell the whole story.
My photo shows a face that is heavier and fuller than it was two decades ago. It shows my gray hair and my thinning bangs.
But it doesn’t show me. Not the real me, at least, of which I’m most proud. It doesn’t tell you about the degrees I’ve earned, awards I’ve received or the friends I’ve made. The camera doesn’t show the ten wonderful years I’ve had since I met my husband. It doesn’t show the daunting pregnancy I endured with my daughter. It doesn’t show the pain I’ve survived, the things I’ve accomplished, the person I was or the person I work to be every single day.
The camera shows the crinkles beginning to form at the edge of my husband eye’s. But it doesn’t show the sheer infectiousness of his big rollicking laugh that I can pick out three aisles away in a crowded Walmart.
The camera shows the similarity between a mother and her adult son. But it doesn’t tell the story of how he was born, months early, and the desperate fight and scary moments that young couple went through to raise that tiny baby into adulthood.
The camera shows a soft smile and kind eyes. But it doesn’t show how that woman put herself through graduate school, started her own successful business, raised two kind and considerate children and became a respected member of her community.
So hate the photographs. Hate the camera. Hate having your picture taken.
But love yourself. Own your story.
We are all more than the camera shows. We are all beautiful and complicated and joyful and conflicted. We are brave, smart, foolish and rude. We are gracious, selfish, arrogant and humble. We all have a story, and that story is infinitely more perfect than any single snapshot in time ever could be.