You’ve heard me harp about the importance of progress photos. It’s rare to see little changes in your body because you see yourself every. single. day. It’s like watching grass grow. Plus, I’m convinced that what we see in the mirror is at least 50% what we expect to see… it’s a mixture of our self-image and our reflection. Somehow, it’s easier to be objective when we’re looking at a photo. Who among us has not been shocked at a tagged photo on Facebook? “Do I really look like THAT?!” goes both ways. I hadn’t realized I gained as much weight as I did until I started seeing that I had about 48 chins in photos.
But not all photos are created equal. Sometimes a bad photo is just a bad photo. Lighting, camera angles, how you’re posed, your posture, your facial expression, what you’re wearing, and yes, what you just ate, can all contribute to the final result. I see it on My Fitness Pal all the time. People take progress photos and you can just tell they’re slouching, and the lighting sucks, and the photo is all grainy, and the angle is bad, and the pose is unflattering, and they’re just doing everything they possibly can to make themselves look frumpy.
Dressing rooms are The Worst. Harsh overhead lighting that washes all pigment from your skin, and cramped into a tiny stall where you can’t even get far enough away from the mirror to decide if you like it or not. Throw a bikini into that mix, and you’re on a one-way trip to Depressionville. Want proof?
This is me Saturday, trying on swimwear in a poorly lit dressing room, and at home the very next day. I did not lose 15 pounds overnight. The only Photoshopping was to crop the image and make it a tad brighter. I might be standing a little taller, but I’m not “sucking it in” any more in the home photo than I was in the dressing room. A solid 90% of the difference is the lighting. The other 10% is that at home, I felt better about myself (not seeing myself in the bad lighting), and that the picture was taken just after breakfast… not after breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, and a big honking slice of lemon meringue pie.
I still fully agree with Fabian from Pulp Fiction that “any time of day is a good time for pie,” but “after eating pie” is a bad time for swimsuit shopping.
So, how do I know which photo I “really” look like? Honestly, I don’t. But I do believe in the power of self-confidence. If I feel like I look good, I’m going to stand straighter, hold my head higher, smile more, etc. And if I feel like day old dog shit, well… I’m not exactly going to exude confidence.
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself every opportunity to feel good about yourself. Don’t let a crappy photo – or shopping trip – rain on your parade.