My seven-year-old daughter bounded in the room and asked to play “silly selfies” with me on my phone. This little game is exactly what it sounds like: she and I put our heads together and make funny faces into the camera. “Sure!” I answered as I made my way to the mirror to check that my hair and make-up looked ok first (you know, just in case one of these might end up on Facebook). After the first few camera clicks I muttered, “Urgh. Let’s try that again, my face looks weird. Hold on, I need to get some lipstick….,” and for the very first time it hit me. My heart sank. Here I sat with my fresh-faced daughter—perfect without a stitch of make-up–while I criticized myself and held up our fun preoccupied by my appearance.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve done something like this. I struggle with perfectionism and this age of iPhone cameras and social media doesn’t help. Especially when it comes to photos, it’s easy to delete the ones I don’t like, and retake them until I do.
I’d always figured this was normal. Everyone likes to see a nice photo of themselves and be happy with how they look in it, right? Certainly! There’s nothing wrong with that.
But I had gotten off balance. Not only did I want to look “just so” before the photo was taken, I’d often point out to whomever I was with how I had a double chin, needed to get a tan, or should have stood up taller. Somehow if I was criticizing a photo of myself, it made the criticizing seem fine.
The purpose of a picture should be so much bigger than all that, though. Photos should have little to do with me at all, and everything to do with capturing the genuine beauty all around me: my grandmother’s smile, an evening with friends, my baby’s face, the glory in a sunset, and the list goes on and on. But with Facebook likes and Instagram comments on my mind, these things can quickly become secondary.
As I journey towards finding my worth in God alone, He is faithful to show me ways I’ve taken something good (and as simple as snapping a photo), and made it way too important. I’m deeply grateful for that morning with my daughter as we sat their snapping selfies, and how He allowed me to see it so clearly.
And funny enough, I like my pictures so much more now! When my perspective is right and I’m unhindered by what people think of me, this lightness shows up in my eyes and smile. When I’m able to look back on a photo (“perfect” or not) pleased I was in a good head-space, just laughing and enjoying the moment, how I appear in it is so much more attractive.
Are you a Photo Perfectionist?
Here are some tips that have helped me:
1. Be Aware of Self-Criticism
When I decided to stop commenting negatively on photos of myself I was shocked to learn how hard it was (which just shows how often I must have done it)! Simply being aware of the words you naturally say when you look at a picture of yourself is a great place to start.
2. Take One and Be Done
This can be a tough one for us perfectionists! That next shot might be the perfect one, right? But (particularly if you are with other people enjoying a moment together) try giving it up. Snap the photo and move on. Everyone will have so much more fun!
3. Realize No One Else Really Cares
Harsh, right? Ha! But there is a lot of truth there. If your first reaction to a photograph is, “ew. I look awful” or “well, I ruined that one,” most of the time no one is else thinks that at all, and wish you’d be kinder to yourself. So try going with the flow. Say something positive instead. Comments like, “we look like we’re having such a great time!” or “wow, your smile is beautiful there!” can shift your whole perspective to a better place.
4. Accentuate the Things You Love
So you may not be as artsy or as active as the person on the Instagram feed over, so what? If your photos reflect your life, your experiences, and the things that bring you joy, then they reflect you and as a precious daughter of God there is (truly!) nothing more beautiful than that.
Kristen lives in St. Petersburg, FL and takes any chance she gets to go to Disney World. She loves creativity of all kinds, and words–whether that’s diving into a good book, watching old movies, writing out her thoughts, being involved in theater (or just meeting up with friends and talking a lot!). Married to her college sweetheart, they have a nine-year old daughter and a goldendoodle puppy. She is loves decorating their home, and is passionate about becoming the kind of wife and mother who lives in balance with food and acceptance of her body. She hopes to encourage others on that journey as well.