When my children were small, they often pleaded with me to take pictures with them. However, I was mostly the woman behind the lens. The reason was simple. I had put on lots of weight and did not want to document it.
After gaining the “freshman 15” during college, my weight fluctuated through the decades. I was thin. I was fat. I was thin again. I was an on-again/off-again vegan. For months I’d work out relentlessly. Then I’d fall off the wagon, pack on the pounds, and blame it on the circumstances of my life.
To my children and grandchildren, I’m sorry. My apology is long overdue.
I cheated you.
When I was a child I loved looking through old family photos. I would walk up the stairs into the attic and sit on a step as I sorted through pictures of my family–snapshots of their lives long before I came into the picture. These images were much more than faded shades of black, gray, and white ink on Kodak paper. They were conversation starters. I’d take the photos to Mom, Grandma, or Grandpa and ask about these moments in their lives. They’d glance at their memories clasped in my small hands, give a knowing smile, and recount the time when….
What I’ve realized (too late) is that my weight is the least important thing about me. Ask my family to describe who I am and they’ll talk about my sense of humor, my tenacity, and my creativity. My children will tell you about the time I shuffled three children between two soccer games scheduled during the same hour. They’ll laugh and shake their heads about the silly songs I’d make up at the spur of the moment. They’ll talk about my love of teaching, writing, my Christmas pickle shenanigans….
Not once will they mention my weight.
I wish I had spent more time in front of the camera. Just as my children changed and grew during the different stages of their lives, I, too, changed. Looking back I realize it’s not a bad thing. Unfortunately, there are missing months–even years–of my life from family photo albums. Once I breathe my last breath, these memories will die with me.
I’ve come to realize that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and stages of our lives. Beauty is in the curves, lines, and wrinkles of life. Without them, we’d have no story to tell. Without pictures, we have no visual connection.
I create pictures for one reason…because we are alive.
When was the last time you had your picture taken?