Smile and say CHEESE!

Published August 17, 2009 by Fat Heffalump

Hands up if you hate having your photograph taken?

My hand is half way up. I don’t hate it like I used to, but I’m still not entirely comfortable with it. For many years of my life I simply refused to allow it, and if I found any photos of me, I destroyed them, even when they weren’t mine to destroy. My self esteem was at such a low place that I couldn’t bear the thought of there being a photographic record of me.
It started when I gained weight at the onset of puberty and really stuck around until my early 30’s. I had a couple of patches where I softened my stance a wee bit, I have a few photos of my late teens where I was very happy nannying for friends of mine, and then again in my mid 20’s when I had moved back to Brisbane and away from my family. But I ebbed back into it with an abusive relationship and only really found myself allowing to be photographed a few years ago.
I have a friend and colleague who is an extremely talented photographer, and he taught me a lot of little tips and tricks about being photographed that have given me confidence in allowing photographs to be taken, and I’m much more relaxed about it now than I have ever been.
However, I still feel the need to vet every photo of myself that I see. I look at them and criticise myself SO harshly. Even though in my rational mind, I know this is pointless and does more damage than good. I know I should be looking at photographs of myself and seeing the things I love about myself rather than the things I hate. But even though I know this, I still look and think things like “My hair looks cute but how fat does my arse look?” or “This would be a good photo if only you couldn’t see my double chin.”
So how do you deal with it, my fellow fatties? Do you not allow photos at all? Do you like being photographed? If you do, what made you like it? What gives you confidence in being photographed? And when you see photographs of yourself, are you critical of them or do you see the positives?
And because I’m a generous woman, I’m going to give you all the tips my photographer friend has given me for flattering photographs:
  1. Pose. If you try to avoid being photographed, people will try to paparazzi you, and you’ll end up with lots of really unflattering photos. Say yes, and ask the photographer to give you a second to get ready to be photographed.
  2. If you are seated at a table, move a glass or mug to one side in front of you. Then reach over and touch it with the hand on the opposite side. (If it’s in front of your left breast, touch it with your right hand and vice versa – best to hold it as if you are about to pick it up). This straightens your spine and puts one shoulder slightly forward, which elongates your neck.
  3. Just before the photo is taken, run your tongue over your teeth, and then smile, with your tongue resting behind your top teeth. This makes your teeth look shiny when the photograph is taken, and makes you subconsciously lift your chin.
  4. Another good thing to do is close your eyes and blink slowly, looking straight at the camera. This eases red-eye and prepares you for your photo.
  5. If you can, stretch before the photo is taken. It straightens your spine. (A straight spine is a good thing in a photo – posture is flattering!)
If you have any more tips for achieving photographs that make you feel great, share ’em!

2 comments on “Smile and say CHEESE!

  • Looking at photos for me is a metaphysical thing. I can look at a photo and hate the way I look and identify every flaw and feel shame and hatered about how I look.. I can look at it (the same photo) another time and feel love for myself and apreciate how good I look. The difference has less to do with the specifics of the photo and everything to do about where my head is at with my own personal Fat Acceptance. I find that when I stand in FA, I can be really easy about photos and when I stand in shame, I wont even look at photos. I will however, be using the tips you just gave in future photos. thanks

  • I don't mind have 'proper' photos taken of me but I am not overly fond of 'happy snaps'. I am not a professional photographer by any means but I have done quite a few weddings now etc and I much prefer to be behind the camera. That said, if someone can take the sort of picture of me that I like, then they are welcome to photograph me all they want!

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