The selfie may have taken over the world – and the Oxford Dictionary – but there are few on my phone and even fewer on my various social media accounts. If that makes me an anomaly, there’s reason for it.
I’ve never been exactly comfortable standing in front of a camera. A lifetime battle with body dysmorphic disorder (more commonly known as an eating disorder) will do that to you.
And for years, I’ve been able to hide away from the lens. When you are a photographer, you have the perfect excuse. How can you be in the picture when you’re taking it?
I’ve taken thousands. Hundreds of thousands.
Babies. Brides. Families. Friends.
I’ve carefully hidden myself behind the lens.
So why was it that on Saturday evening I stood with my family as my friend and talented photographer Kevin Ferguson took photo after photo of me? How was it that I was able to smile, to laugh even, as the lights flashed and the shutter clicked?
It wasn’t easy. That the photographer was a friend helped.
But just as important was the reason I’d decided this summer that it was time for our first official family portrait since my daughter was born more than nine years ago.
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Because as she marches ever more quickly toward the teen years, stronger than the urge to purge myself of food is the desire to protect my daughter from ending up as one of the 24 million Americans who battle an eating disorder.
Part of protecting her means facing my fears. It means that I need to make peace with my own body.
It means remembering that this body gave her life, that this body is one that – for all its flaws – makes up the only mother she will ever know. It means being strong enough to stand in front of a camera and show her that I have nothing to hide.
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Image courtesy Kevin Ferguson Weddings