Three Exercises to Approach Every Photo Op With Body Kindness
Many people get nervous about having their picture taken because they aren’t comfortable with how they look. If you’re coming from a perspective where you’re nervous about getting in a photo or constantly untagging yourself from photos on social media, that’s completely normal. Photos can last forever which can both be a good thing, but also an overwhelming thing about it.
The good thing about photos is that they can represent priceless memories. So many people regret not being in them or looking back to a moment with nothing but memories of how uncomfortable they were in that moment, rather than being in that moment.
Today we’ll guide you through a three-step method to help you feel better about having your photos taken.
If being in photos isn’t something you’re comfortable with right now, or you feel like it might be triggering for you in some way, that’s okay. You can keep this method in your back pocket for whenever you’re ready.
Follow along with Kristy with this audio
Step one: getting to know you.
Start by looking at yourself in the mirror and doing your best, not to judge, just observe if you aren’t comfortable with this. You can start so slow and go at a pace that you’re super comfortable with. You don’t have to do this all at one time. Listen to yourself, listen to your body, listen to your intuition, and how you feel. Remember that we’re coming at this from a place of body kindness.
So we’re observing, we’re not judging, we’re not checking. We’re just looking.
Name the things you see about your body out loud without judgment. You can start by making observations as if you were trying to help someone who couldn’t see you draw you. So for example, you could say things like
- I have short hair
- I have gray hair
- I have green eyes
- I have a birth mark on my shoulder
- My hips are larger than my shoulders
Go through and just name things, naming body shapes that you see. The goal by the end of your description is that your imaginary artist would be able to draw something that looks at least a little bit like you, and that pulls the judgment out of it.
These aren’t bad things. These aren’t good things. These are just words. These are just what you look like.
While you’re neutrally observing yourself, you’re also familiarizing yourself with your actual presence and who you are. It helps you befriend your body.
Why is that important? We spend so much time trying to cover ourselves or just looking at ourselves from the neck up, or we’re in a hurry that we might not be as kind to our body as we deserve. Familiarizing yourself with your body allows you to befriend your body and it removes some of that element of surprise from seeing yourself in a photo.
Take as long on this step as you need to on step one, that’s a very important piece of advice. You don’t have to do this in one afternoon. You don’t have to do this in five minutes. Don’t try to do this right before you’re going to work. Take a moment and give yourself some time.
Step two: seek visual variety.
Intentionally seeking out images and exposure to people with a variety of body types allows us to normalize the idea that there are a variety of body types. There are a variety of different bodies and they’re all valuable. So thanks to apps like Pinterest, TikTok, and Instagram, we have access to all kinds of inspiration from bodies that look like yours and bodies that don’t.
It’snice to be able to look at someone and be like, they have the same arms as me. We look similar and I would never have thought to wear that top, but it looks really cute on them. On the other hand, being able to look at your feeds and say, that’s a body type that’s nothing like mine and look at how beautiful that is or look at how wonderful they are wearing that.
Allowing yourself to expand your mind and expand the idea that bodies that look like yours and don’t look like yours are all valuable and can all be beautiful. While you’re doing this, notice how you feel that we can really notice what you think about, are you finding it easier to extend kindness to bodies other than your own?
Moving yourself and the content you surround yourself with out of the frame of mind of societal beauty standards is a game changer in every possible way.
Step three, getting the photo.
You can wait to do this as long as you want to, but don’t run from the camera.
Don’t ask for five minutes to go fix your hair or touch up your lipstick, just to get in the photo.
Then we’re going to take it a step further. We’re going to say, get in every single photo that you can, because the best way to get used to something is to do it a lot and get practice.
Ask your partner, your friends, your kids, to take photos of you.
Look at your photos and observe. It’s going to feel really weird and that’s okay. That’s understandable.
If you find yourself judging, you have plenty of time to go back to step one and step two, this is not linear and it doesn’t have to be, this is a process. Don’t hide from them. Really allow yourself to see what you look like and to address that without judgment.
If you’re really, really struggling with being yourself in photos, set up your phone to video and record yourself doing something that you do routinely and that you love. Maybe you’re picking dinner, gardening, or playing with your kids. Watch yourself experiencing something you do frequently and observe yourself with kindness.
The goal here is to get so familiar with the person on the screen that you no longer feel surprised or inclined to pass that judgment. Extend kindness and honor the fact that you have immortalized that moment in time, whether it’s on video or in a photo.
So why does it matter?
I don’t want you to miss out on the opportunity to have photos with your friends and family and your life experiences, because you were being judgmental of yourself.
Treat your body, treat the person in front of you, like someone that you care about. Being kind to yourself in the mirror, being accurate with yourself about what your body looks like, and trying to find that balance of neutrality and kindness, it’s, it isn’t a simple thing, but it is an important thing
About Kristy Johnson
Kristy Johnson is a fat-positive educator, writer, photographer, and creator. She is passionate about reducing anti-fat bias through education and advocacy and encouraging everyone to optimize their lives without the pressure of changing their bodies. She lives in North Carolina with her husband Justin and two cats, Paul Simon and Books. Kristy presented this content in the Flourish program. Flourish provides nutrition, body image, and confidence coaching for women looking to find peace in their relationship with food and body. Learn more about Flourish and schedule your first session with a coach.
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