A Challenging Challenge: Self Portrait & Being Genuine

11:36 AM

Day one of the photography challenge was a "self portrait." This challenge turned out to be especially challenging for a number of reasons. 1. I don't actually have a tripod. 2. I don't have a camera remote and it took forever for me to figure out how to make the app that is supposed to connect with my camera work and 3. I'm just really not a fan of pictures of myself right now.

The fact of the matter is, these days I try to spend as much time as possible BEHIND the camera, often just to avoid being in front of it. I've been struggling with some self-image issues for well over a year, and in January I finally took steps to make a change. I had a friend who I was working out with consistently (2-3 times a week), I was really watching what I ate and doing a pretty good job at it -- I even had an app on my phone to track calories and all that stuff.

And then I got pregnant.

Needless to say, it wasn't long before I was throwing up 2, 3 or 4 times daily, while teaching 6th grade (which was exhausting even before all that), and my energy and will-power to be physically active were quickly . . . nonexistent. I still tried to eat fairly well, but when the mere thought of most food literally made me gag (and sometimes actually made me throw up) and then I would finally think of something that DIDN'T make me want to cry and throw up at the same time...I ate that thing. And I can assure you, for me, that thing was not usually salad. (Sidenote: It is far too easy to justify eating a bowl of ice cream for dinner when you're 80% sure your body is just going to reject it in a short matter of time anyway...)

I know I should be so happy that my body is healthy enough to grow a strong, healthy baby (so far so good anyway) and I've read probably 30+ articles about appreciating bodies of all shapes and sizes and "your body is not your own" and "your body is merely a vessel for your baby." I recognize that the human body is truly miraculous, especially with its ability to create and sustain life, and I am so blessed that I can take part in that miracle. But, as great as all that sounds, and as much as I even believe that it's true, it doesn't really make me feel better much about my body image. For a while I totally fell off the healthy-life style bandwagon, and now that I finally have a lot more energy and the throwing up has calmed to a few times every few weeks, I've decided it's time I pull myself back on the wagon. But it's a daily struggle.

How was that for an overly-personal explanation of why this was an especially difficult first task?? haha.

When it came to actually TAKING the photo, the first decision I had to make was, do I "get ready" for a self-portrait photoshoot?? Like how silly would it feel to do my hair and put on make up just so I can sit in front of a camera take pictures of myself?? I decided that would feel preeeetty darn silly, so I consented take it how I was. (Full disclosure: I did change my shirt and throw a headband over my day-three hair.)

Next, I had to figure out where to take it. Living in a basement doesn't provide the best natural light in the world, but I decided to venture into my newly de-cluttered and reorganized living room to take it. (That seemed like a much better option than suffering through the awkwardness and embarrassment of trying to take it alone outside with people walking by . . . HAHA. Can you imagine??) After some major fails with the lighting and settings on my camera, I found a way to get some good natural light with a decent background that wasn't too busy or too boring. (Also, I found some cardboard boxes to stack on top of each other to use as a tripod.)

100% make-up free, 100% un-touched or edited, 100% awkward, self-portraits:

I often think about the balance of being open, honest, and genuine on my blog while not over-sharing. I know people have different ideas about what is appropriate to share on a public platform such as this one, and I try not to cross the line of being overly-personal, but at the same time I want this blog to be an accurate and authentic depiction of my life, and that includes my day-to-day struggles. I've especially been thinking about this balance as I have reflected on President Uchtdorf's conference talk On Being Genuine. I definitely do not want to feel that I am putting up a "Potemkin Village" and causing people to falsely believe that I have my life 100% together, but at the same time, there is already more than enough negativity on the internet and I don't want my little corner of it to add to that negativity. I typically only share things that I feel are uplifting, or at least happy, but I think it's important to not get so caught up on sharing only happy things, that I give the false impression (to my future self, or my children who may someday read this blog) that my life isn't without its challenges.

Sometimes I have a hard time expressing my feelings out loud, so I don't often talk about hardships I'm facing. I feel like I'm a fairly open person, but in reality I am only that way in particular settings and in particular moods that come along less often than I would like. Fortunately, I have found that I have a much easier time expressing myself through writing than through speaking, so when things are too hard for me to say, I write. For this reason, I am especially grateful to my little blog.

Do you have a blog? How do you determine a balance between being real but also uplifting?
_ _ _


You Might Also Like


  1. Love this post and love your realness! You are beautiful and need no filters or make-up to show that to the world :)

    1. Thank you so much, Ashley! Can't wait to take pics soon :)

  2. YES. This is exactly how I felt the first four months of my pregnancy. When something (like perhaps a milkshake or french fries) seemed even remotely appetizing, or at least the thought of it didn't make me sick, I ate that thing. And it was NEVER salad (in fact, after throwing up salad I swore off of it for a loooong time). Being pregnant is SO HARD - not just physically, but also mentally/emotionally. So glad you're feeling better! And for the record - I think you have a great balance with your blog.

    1. Marcie, the fact that you also had a tough pregnancy keeps me going! I feel like everyone around me has like magical pregnancies haha. And yes...throwing up salad is NOT something I have enjoyed haha. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  3. Body image is one of the biggest things women face these days, I truly believe that. The media and the world teach us that women's bodies and how they look determine our worth. This org is the best thing Ive ever seen on body image and how to make those feelings go away. They have a ton of incredible blog posts on all types of body image topics all backed by their doctoral research. http://www.beautyredefined.net/blog/. The struggle is so real! Thanks for sharing! I love when people share their struggles as well as their triumphs.

    1. Thanks for that resource, Jess! And thanks for the encouragement!