50/50: Taking the dreaded “before” picturePictures are a way of marking the start of a new journey on our life map so that as we walk on, we can look back and have some appreciation of how far we’ve come.
By: Susie Ekberg Risher, INFORUM
Weight lost: 8 pounds
Pictures are a way of marking the start of a new journey on our life map so that as we walk on, we can look back and have some appreciation of how far we’ve come.
So this time I’m doing it. I’m taking a “before” picture. I have to make a plan, though. What will I wear? Will I expose my belly, a la “Biggest Loser?” No, I don’t want to end up as a cruel meme on Pinterest that reads “GET IN MY BELLY.” I’ll be tasteful, wear my tech workout gear, smile, act confident. But I have to face the camera, full on, no hiding.
I take the picture and look. Really? I look closer. That can’t be me. My face, shoulders, arms and shins are all slim. If I place two fingers horizontally across the whole area between my shoulders and thighs I look great.
Maybe it’s the angle from which I view my body, just looking down. Looks pretty slim, not bad. I don’t really look at myself in the mirror too much. I take a deep breath. This is why I wanted the picture. To show me my starting point. To show me ME. All of me. Now I want to post it on Facebook.
I first shared the photo with a trusted group of nine girlfriends. I said I was too scared to be public, but that logic seems flawed. I walk around in my body every day. People see me. They see what I see in that photograph. It’s no surprise. Something deep is going on here, and the more nervous I get, the more I walk into it.
First, my friend Ali posts a picture of herself that she has just snapped in her pajamas. Then Tori posts a beautiful picture of herself in a gold evening gown. I can feel the peer pressure building. I don’t want to do it – I want to do it. No. Yes. If more for me than anyone else. Full body shot. No hiding.
I post. I’m ready to throw up, but I hold tough. Why the angst? Then I understand: I have been hiding from MYSELF this last year, maintaining an illusion of my body at another place, another weight, another level of fitness. It’s the emperor’s new clothes all over again, but this time it’s the camera that points a finger and says, “But mama – this is what she really looks like,” and the illusion is shattered because I no longer can go along with the game of “believe what I’m telling you, not what you see.”
The post started a flurry of discussion about how we can better love ourselves, about how we see ourselves and what shames us. When my male friends started commenting I started crying. I had no idea that would mean so much. One friend told me that as she got heavier, she went from full body shots, to upper torso shots, to now just head shots, and fears she’ll pretty soon only be posting pictures of her forehead. That was funny to me but sad in its truth about hiding our bodies, part by part.
So now I have my before photo and am taking one at the beginning of each month, in the same clothes and in the same spot in my house. Maybe I’ll make a collage of the photos like parents do for their children’s school pictures, side by side, neatly matted, framed and hung. Maybe I won’t. But I will not hide my body anymore. I vow to face my life head on, full body. My body is beautiful; it is strong; it is healthy. I see you, body. I love you. We’ve got this.
Susie Ekberg Risher is a writer living in Fargo. Follow her on a yearlong journey to lose 50 pounds – half through emotional work and half through physical effort.