Friday, October 25, 2013

A Positive Self-Image Is Not Just For Girls

"You don't like any pictures you take of yourself," my little six year-old son said to me.  We were on the bumpy bus ride home after spending two hours running through fields, catching bugs, and pretending to be part of the local wildlife at the Ogden Nature Center.  After helping keep track of 30 curious 1st graders I thought the drive home would be the easy part of the trip.  I was wrong.  
After several attempts to take a portrait of the two of us, my heart sank at hearing my son's observation.  "You don't like any pictures you take of yourself."

"It's not you.  It's me," I said.  Cringe.  Did I really just say that?

"You look great in all the pictures," I continued.  But see, first I didn't know I had it zoomed in so close.  And then my hair looked messed up in this one."  While that might be true, it didn't account for the 15 others where the angle of my face (to me) made my cheeks look even bigger or my chin even more pointy, my jawline too angular...

I saw his little pout.  Ironically, I was ruining this trip by trying to capture a keep sake of how great it had been, which even in mind I recognized as "All Or Nothing Thinking" AGAIN...

Fast forward to a week later, when after trimming myself some bangs I attempted to taking another self-pic.  I guess I didn't realize how many clicks had gone by and photos I'd checked and deleted.

"You don't like any pictures you take of yourself."  Again, I felt my heart hitting the floor of my stomach.

"It's not that I don't like them," I white-lied, "It's that I just want to look my best, and that's not my best smile."  What stupid lesson was I teaching?  And why?  Just to try to "keep up with the Joneses" of women who have lost all the baby weight and still look like they are in high school?  I've been through this with myself already!

Looking at myself in that digital preview screen I saw a mother that was teaching her son to expect way too much of himself and to not settle for less than his own best version of perfect.  That was not what I wanted.

"I'll take your picture, Mommy."


I handed him my camera and smiled, knowing the lighting from his angle wasn't very bright and that I wasn't even facing the right way.  But I smiled big and brightly for my little boy.

A hug and a thank you later he said  "Your welcome, Mom.  Now can we go play scooters?"

It isn't enough to just not have beauty magazines on display in your home or be careful with the media you let in.  It isn't enough to just tell your daughters they are beautiful regardless of their coloring or size.  Our boys need to hear it too.  It isn't enough to just not talk about how you feel fat or want to lose a couple pounds when you around the kids.  We need to be examples.  We need to feel happy and recognize our beauty. We need to watch our actions.  We need to smile big, laugh hard and enjoy and capture the moments for what they are, not because of how good we look in a picture.
Most of all we need to remember we are ALWAYS teaching something because our little ones are ALWAYS watching.

I love these unedited pictures and thanks, Michael, for that last one.

Love, Eva

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