Can You Picture That?

I wish there was a stronger connection between my head, my heart, and my eyes. Because I had a great time on my South Carolina beach vacation – I laughed, lounged, shopped, and sunned with my wonderful friends – and yet, when I look at the photos, I wonder how I managed to have a good time at all. How ridiculous that looking at a picture or two (or a a dozen) can make me feel bad, when I know I felt so good when they were taken. Listen up, eyes: It’s time for you to catch up with my head and my heart!

Here are two pictures I want to share with you. The first is one I love, of me in my favorite bathing suit and my fantastic new sun hat, standing on the beach. You’ll notice that my belly isn’t showing, or my hips, and one arm is hidden and the other is cut off so that you can’t see how big they are.

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Now here’s a picture that my best friend took, of her youngest son and me on the beach, during a break in the action of an intense game of I Spy. Oh, man. When she sent me this photo, I cringed. Look at how wide I am! Look at my arm! I wanted to hide this picture from the world. And then I immediately asked for my BFF’s permission to use this here on BFD. Because a huge part of my body acceptance journey is accepting all parts of my body, even when they aren’t artfully and purposefully cut out of the frame.

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There are a lot of other pictures from this trip that make me uncomfortable. I look so wide, so big, so this, so that. (I don’t know if I will ever like my eyes without makeup!) But I keep reminding myself of how much fun I had, how good the sun felt, how much I loved those sunrise walks on the beach, those moments when I laughed so hard I could barely breathe, those glasses of wine with the girls as dusk settled in. I can’t let those great memories that live in my heart and head be corrupted by what my eyes see now.

My friend Rachel once told me that, because a picture is just a frozen moment in time, it doesn’t capture the real us. In life, we are constantly in motion, our bodies are always moving, shifting, changing. When we see what we perceive to be an unflattering photo, that isn’t an accurate representation of what we look like, because our arm isn’t frozen in that particular position, our bellies aren’t always seen from the side, our chins (!) aren’t always viewed from that angle . I try to remember this, that a picture is worth a thousand words, but my body in motion – yours, too – is worth so very many more.

This picture comes into focus: Me, in a bathing suit on a beach, fat arms and belly and hips and thighs, laughing, surrounded by the people I love, happy.