I hate the way I look in photos.
Every time my husband takes one of me, I cringe and begin mentally going through the checklist of things I don’t like about my appearance:
– My nose is too big. “You have your father’s nose,” says my mother every time I complain about its size, as if that will somehow make me feel better about it.
– My skin is dull, my forehead is wrinkling at an accelerated speed, and my under eye circles have become a permanent fixture. No amount of creams are seeming to help stop the inevitable aging process.
– My overbite is getting worse, and my bottom teeth have shifted after years of neglecting my retainer. All of that money my mom spent years ago on braces is essentially going straight down the toilet. I hate that I didn’t take better care of my smile like I was supposed to.
– My hair is always a mess. I live in the south, so the humidity kills any shot I have of keeping it polished and put together. No matter how good it looks in my bathroom, 10 seconds out the front door and it is a frizzy mess again.
– The way my clothes fit my body makes me wish I was taller, thinner, and better at dressing myself. I look nothing like the girl on Instagram wearing the exact same outfit. Why can’t I flawlessly pull it off like her?
I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I started hating the way I look. The moment I decided that the girl who used to exude confidence no longer had anything to offer physically.
It’s silly, isn’t it? That I decided my face was no longer good enough, so I somehow wasn’t good enough?
We’re so much harder on ourselves than we should be; our own worst critics.
My husband doesn’t see all of my imperfections. He still tells me I’m beautiful, getting better with each passing year.
My children aren’t aware of my flaws. They only see their mom; the person who fiercely loves and protects them.
I can count on one hand the number of photos I have from my childhood with my mother. I wish someone had taken the time to capture our moments together all those years ago.
I don’t want that for my own children. I want them to be able to pour through photos of us, recounting every moment; relishing in the memories we made together.
So tonight, I took the picture. I smiled with my crooked teeth, didn’t suck in that extra fat, didn’t put my hand on my hip to slim my chubby arms, and didn’t attempt the head tilt to hide my double chin.
Four Norths in the South
Instead, I lived in the moment with a sweet little boy who loves me more than all the stars in the sky.
And someday, I hope he pulls out that old memory of us and thinks of how beautiful his mother was to him then, not because of her physical appearance, but because of the undying love for him that’s so evident in her eyes.
That’s real beauty, and that’s the beauty I want to be remembered for.
This story originally appeared on Four Norths in the South