A couple weeks ago I was combing through old photos from my college days, looking for the absolute best ones that I could pick to post to Facebook. Ones that depicted an ideal life, symmetrical smiles, meticulously styled hair, perfect everything. Going in, I knew I had a whole bunch of photos I thought I looked terrible in, so combing through the hundreds that I had was going to be a tedious job. I regretted my haphazard photo taking as I began the task. It would take a long time, I thought, and I’d be cringing at every stupid face or goofy smile I made.
Then I started… and nothing was wrong.
I love every photo I took. The smiles I thought were crooked are the grins of a girl in complete bliss over her friends, her surroundings, her world. Silly faces made captured joy. The last two years have been the happiest of my life, and I have photo proof of almost every occasion that made it happy.
So because of that I feel shame. How could I ever think that that joyful girl was ugly for smiling? I’m not boasting that I’m beautiful, but I feel like I need to apologize to myself for the years of squirreling away photos out of the fear of judgment. I realize now that I was my harshest judge.
In addition to the shame however, I also feel relief. What if my shame took me so far as to stop taking photos entirely? Or, what if it took me further and I decided to delete the ones that I thought were unsightly? Years of documentation would be gone in a moment of fleeting impulse.
So reader, I implore you: if you feel the same way that I felt about the pictures you have of yourself and your friends, do not throw the photos away. It’s tempting to give yourself a momentary self-esteem boost by deleting things you feel are unsightly, but I beg you not to do it so you won’t face the regret that I was on the precipice of experiencing.
You look just fine, and I’m sure the you six months from now will think so too.