Dark Circles and Double Chins :: Why Moms Should Be in the Picture Anyway

 

Dark Circles and Double Chins :: Why Moms Should Be in the Picture Anyway | Houston Moms Blog

I am no stranger to self-image issues. As many teenage girls do, I went through my fair share of crying into dressing room mirrors when the swimsuit didn’t look like it did on the model in the ad, or when the smallest size wasn’t big enough. I also spent a majority of my formative years immersed in the uncultured world of social media outlets, and by the time sharing photos online became popular, I had a deeply rooted complex about female beauty; skinny was beautiful, bony was beautiful, a gaunt and rigid face was beautiful. I qualified, in my own mind, as nothing desirable. 

In college, I finally learned to accept my body, treat it well {no more crash diets or cardio-overload}, and focus more on what was on the inside :: my brain, my heart, my dreams. Of course, I’d still have the occasional “I feel fat” day, but for the most part I had moved past that time in my life, and those little lies that had whispered to me for so long seemed to die out.

Then, I got pregnant, and–what do you know–those little lies weren’t so dead after all. 

So, let’s be clear here :: YES, you have a very legitimate reason for gaining weight when you’re having a baby. YES, the female body is absolutely incredible and should elicit no lesser a reaction than awe and fear. NO, it does not make all the changes to your amazing body easy on your socially-influenced mind.

The road to the cute baby bump is never glamorous. There is a definite “fat stage” that we all have to get through before it’s obvious to the rest of the world that a baby is to blame for our *ahem* changes. For me, that road is lumpy and frumpy. And swollen, and puffy. And it has Halloween-esque under-eye dark circles that would make a zombie gasp. It is just not a time in my life that I should want photo evidence of. Yet… at the same time, I do, because our family is growing and I want to capture every little piece of our world in these fleeting moments that I know I would kick myself later for missing.

So, when this unfortunate time of my puffy face and frumpy body coincides with Christmas card season, I’ll courageously choose to take the cliche’ family picture. Even though, I know, when I choose one to send out and post online, all those teenage social media self image issues will resurrect inside my brain. Everyone is going to be able to tell how much I’ve let myself go. 

I’ll be completely honest with you :: every single picture I’ve seen of myself lately has done absolutely nothing good for my morale; so much so that I typically turn down basically all photo opportunities these days. And if I happen to pass by my reflection and not instantly think how awful I look, it’s an actual miracle. Thankfully, I’m usually the one behind the camera. But when the time comes for my family to put on our seasonal outfits and take a frame-able photo to slap some words of holiday cheer on top of, I will plaster enough make-up on my face to look like I’ve actually been getting sleep and request only the most flattering angles from the photographer as if I–and not my adorable child–will be the focal point of the picture. Because don’t we all just want everyone to think, Wow! She looks better than she did before having kids, she never ages, and I bet she wakes up like this every day!..

The anxiety that now comes along with getting the perfect Christmas card photo seems ridiculous, but is also very real to me. The Christmas card photo is the picture that we all compare to last year’s picture; where we see the weight gain, or the new wrinkles, or the less polished version of yourself. We just don’t want everyone else to see it too.

But we also get to see our family change. We can lay those Christmas cards side-by-side, year after year, and watch our kids grow up. We can see in that one photo so many stories from the past twelve months around the sun, where, yet again, you’ve all gathered together for a tradition that captures how truly beautiful it is to be part of a family.

Despite the anxieties, and the things I think I see in the mirror, I will cherish my annual family photo and be proud to send a little love to loved ones. Because in that perfect golden lighting, in that park by that tree, in our matching plaid… I’m with my awesome family that is growing by one, and my body is telling a little bit of that story right now. So, if you’re in the same boat as me, let’s just make a pact to smile big and bold, no matter how many chins we see.

And, honestly, when it comes down to it, our photos will appear online for a time and then they’ll disappear, and everyone’s just going to throw each other’s cards away soon anyway, right?


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