Today, I updated my Facebook profile photo to the one shown as my featured photo for this post. Invariably after a photo like this – sans makeup, and in this case, even removing my mask, er glasses – I get a message from someone who says how brave I am. Today was no different.
First of all, the word “brave” is best saved for actual heroes.
Second, I’d like to tell you a story about my late-ex-brother-in-law, Mark.
It was 1997 or 1998… to be honest, I don’t remember for sure but feel like it was 1998 because of what happened after. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What I DO remember is that our family of five and Mark’s family of six got together and had a professional photo done for the grandparents. Afterwards, we went to Olive Garden.
They had shown us the proofs before we left. I’d been horrified. Why? Oh, the usual. I was fatter than holy hell. I looked hideous. Ugly.
Oh yes, I’d fixed myself up, of course. I even remember what I was wearing… a burgundy skirt and sweater set. My best color back then. Lipstick, also burgundy and waaaay too dark. Hair, short, curly… not permed or anything (I’d stopped that monstrosity in the 80s). Makeup and jewelry that were appropriate. I didn’t wear glasses back then, so I didn’t even have them to hide behind.
It didn’t help that Mark’s wife was effortlessly young-looking, slim and didn’t wear a lot of makeup. She looked fantastic. Everyone in the photo did… even my autistic son, who notoriously made faces during photos.
I hated that photo and it ruined my day… and my Olive Garden meal. <<< And that was certainly a tragedy because it was a treat for us. But I digress.
Mark asked what was wrong because then – like now – I wear my feelings on my sleeve (and my face).
“I hate the photo,” I said.
Naturally, he asked why.
“Because I don’t like how I look.”
And that’s when he said something that SERIOUSLY changed my life:
“But… it’s YOU!”
Understand that Mark wasn’t a scholar nor did he tend to subjects about psychology or much of anything too deep. But he had me pegged… and it was just what I needed to hear.
“Good point!” I said.
And then I went home and thought about it. A lot.
When the photos arrived – we’d ordered one for ourselves – don’t get me wrong, I still didn’t like it. But I knew it was because I didn’t like how I looked – mostly my weight – and that’s when I determined to lose it.
What happened after – in 1999 and beyond – is chronicled all over this blog. I don’t feel like rehashing it and it isn’t the point, anyway.
(Short aside: Maybe it is actually a part of the point and worth a revisit. After all, I lost weight and my world fell apart. Did it really happen like that? Yeah, a little. Could be a reason I’m still fat. I equate weight loss with falling apart? I could tell you stories. Maybe I will… one day.)
Today, I took a selfie that’s 100% me. Do I love it? No. But I certainly do NOT hate it.
It’s okay… I am beautiful… because I am ME.
I encourage you to look at your face in all its glory and consider if you’d ever post of photo of it for public consumption. If not, I would ask why? Because, honestly, as Mark would say… it’s YOU. What’s wrong with that?