Sunday, 20 June 2010

Do you hate being photographed? (1)

Vanity winning over posterity

If like me you’re overweight and self-conscious about it, I’d like to ask you a series of questions -

Do you refuse to be photographed?  

Have you destroyed pictures of yourself because you think they made you look ugly/fat?

Was the reason in both cases because you felt ashamed of how you looked?

(There’s nothing wrong with that up to a point – in many ways this is how we improve ourselves, because we hate the way we are.  But…)

Did you feel ashamed because you think it means people will see you have no self-control? ………

………Or because it showed?  You probably mutter to yourself that if you had a secret drink or a sex addiction problem at least nobody in the street would notice as you went about your business, they wouldn’t whisper about you behind your back, etc. 

Is it true to say that part of your self-loathing is that overweight is such a visible failure, a form of constant and relentless process of public humiliation?

So now tell me:  how exactly does air-brushing yourself out of your own history - which is what you're doing by destroying your photographs - help resolve this process of self-torture? 

Do you really think that in years to come when you’re long gone, your grandchildren will say to each other “we had a grandmother, apparently she was attractive but we’re not sure, because there are no photos of her and we have no idea what she looked like – but she must have been fat, or worse, so it’s just as well”. 

Or how about….

“We have some photos of our grandmother – she was slim and pretty when she was young.  For the rest of her life, all we’ve got to go on is what our mother tells us – she says Granny was plumper than in those pictures, but attractive.  We have to take her word for it, but we wish we could see for ourselves what she looked like when we were little.”

And you’ll be up there sitting on a fluffy cloud, berating yourself – “why the hell didn’t someone stop me from being so selfish and vain?  I want to live on through my family and there’s so little of me left…”

If you read bandit blogs and you find it useful therapy to interact with bloggers who are going through the same difficult process, I put it to you that it’s not only about managing to lose the weight and sharing the euphoria with the rest of us – though it’s part of it and we all rejoice or commiserate together – it’s also about addressing the hang-ups the overweight has caused us, and by examining them and turning them this way and that, see if we can beat them and fight our way back to a normal self-image.

We shouldn’t punish ourselves for being less attractive than we would like by not permitting images of us to be in circulation.  I strongly believe that by doing so we are not taking responsibility for our bodies.  And this means we do not love ourselves.

Lets throw off our burdens of guilt, punishment and self-consciousness, and say to the world “this is the way I am, and it is your loss if you cannot see beyond the shell of my body.”

The first step is to look people in the eye and stand by the bad photographs as well as the good.

In the next post I’ll put my money where my mouth is.


Photo Finish -
From Lonicera's non-digital archive

To make you smile...  these pictures won't produce the famous "Laugh Out Loud" that bloggers are so fond of talking about - but they made me smile when I took them, and I hope they do you too.

The first two were taken at an open day somewhere during the era when robots were all the rage.  This entertainer was superb, though clearly the child in the second photo wouldn't have agreed, to the embarrassment of his father...

(I think he was pretending he was going to take away
the child's tennis ball, don't you think??)

This one below of John was taken for a camera club competition
and I wanted to call it - go on, have a guess..............
yup, "In the Dog House", complete with correct expression.

Weston-super-Mare, a breezy day on the pier. 
Look closely at the sign.  No, closer. 
Three words are distinguishable on it, not two...

The next five were taken at St Ives, in Cornwall.  I'd love to have any of these three as my address.  It would have been wonderful to get several girls to pose in a queue under this first one...

Seagulls are a pain in St Ives, there are so many... probably because there is too much fast food around, and they all get fat on greasy chips.  However, the average British person will not hesitate when making the decision between obeying a sign and feeding animals and birds, and the evidence of this civil disobedience was all around this sign, so I probably should have stepped back to include it.

'Ere - where's me chips then?

This last one was taken at Lyme Regis, in Dorset.  This is no grabbed shot - the cat was clearly quite at home,  waiting for scraps, and some kind person had even put a tea towel on the windowsill so his bottom wouldn't get cold...



Zanna said...

What a thought provoking post Caroline - and I think you're absolutely right but suspect that for most of us that although the idea is sound, actually putting it into practice will be the challenge. Lovely pictures again - thanks Zxx

Sara said...

I love your photos. You are an artist.

And such truth about avoiding being photographed. I'm always the one taking the pictures - that way I don't have to be IN them. Maybe I need to change that attitude. Thank you!

Tina said...

I think I avoided the pictures so I didn't have to face myself. I knew that everyone saw me in real life. I have had people on planes panic when I walked by. I have had them laugh I have had them turn away so as not to look. I turned away from looking at my pictures.

Now I seek the pictures out because I don't feel any different but I know I am. I need the pictures to ground me.

i loved this batch of pics by the way...the dog house one was especially funny.

OH..and the book. I kinda lost it and am trying to find it. I had it all out and ready to go and then when you sent your email with your address in it I went looking and it had disappeared. If I do not find it I will send another lapbandy book to replace it on its travels.

THE DASH! said...

It can be a daily struggle, huh? Having a lapband doesn't necessarily mean that life is now easy.
Love the pic of the silver guy - and that poor child looks so frightened. Love all your pictures as usual. Photographer extraordinare.

Joey said...

Very interesting. I've thought about that too. That there will be photo gaps in my life when I destroyed many pictures.

I dodged the camera because I was didn't want to see the real me. I didn't want to know how fat I really was.

I don't mind being photographed now and I have made a decision not to photoshop myself thinner anymore. That was sooo hard to do with the pics I just posted. I still have things I hate about my body, no matter what weight I am. But I stuck to my new rule.

Reddirt Woman said...

I think this post is right on the mark with the photograph/self image analysis. My friend Carol hates to have her picture taken but she is just beautiful to all who know her. Her heart is way bigger than her body.

You have an artist's eye and it definitely show in your photos. Love the street names, also, and John in the doghouse and the little boy at the fair shows you also have a keen eye for the humor in life. Great post, my friend, and I put the mimosa pictures up today.


Lonicera said...

I loved the varied reactions to my post expressed here, and thank you. Like Joey, I felt I had to dodge the camera, as if not having pictures of me meant I was no bigger than last time.

Tina - thinking about your comment - what if the lapband had never been invented and you had stayed the same size, and in thirty years time you looked back at the large photos of yourself taken in (say) the nineties - wouldn't you have thought 'don't I look young in those photos?' ...

Helen, as soon as I finish this series I'll post some yellow mimosa images, from older pictures of the tree in my garden.

Thank you all - I so appreciate your comments.


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