Eyes Of The Beholder

water lillies 
My mother has an uncanny knack for capturing the most unflattering pictures of me with her camera. 

Every damn time.

All of these years I have believed she was doing it on purpose (she can take really great photos of landscapes and other people) but rather than ask her why, I would silently, sullenly lick my wounds as I cringed over the odd angles she chose to accentuate each bulging thigh, each fat roll, each double chin.

You will have to trust me when I say that I am not hypercritical of these photos simply because of body dysmorphic issues. There is some of that, admittedly (what woman doesn’t), but these are genuinely bad: 

Bugging eyes. My mouth caught gaping open in some sort of snarlish way that I did not know was possible. Are my teeth REALLY that crooked? OMG. Please tell me that is not a nose booger!

In a group photo I will be the only one with the red demon eyes. No one else. How does she DO that so consistantly?!?!?? Is there a reverse red eye photo editor?

It struck me today, however, as I was looking at terrible photos of my kids that I really didn’t want to delete because it was THEM, that rather than this being an indication of a well orchestrated systematic attack on my self esteem driven by complicated maternal jealousy, perhaps this is actually a symptom of love. Love blinding to the flaws. Love that blights any photographic skill. Love that negates all of those unpleasant angles. She does not see how bad the pictures are because when she looks at them, she sees me.

Maybe she really does hate me. I don’t know and I don’t really care anymore. I am choosing to believe it is love. AND I am choosing to hit delete on all of those godawful pictures of my kids. No need to give them a complex when I have plenty of beautiful ones to keep! 

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92 thoughts on “Eyes Of The Beholder

  1. they will thank you…but it’s hard to hit that button huh? how about dumping them into a word processor with a short explanation and saving it as a file entitled “my delete button”? there’s no such thing as too many pics of the kids…maybe some simple photo effects like cropping, color ratio or the fixer i like b&w…maybe your momma didn’t have that option but you do…just a thought in defense of those shots of love

    Liked by 1 person

      • yep…indeed…wow…that’s memory capacity!!!my best friend lost her son to cancer and if you want a war suggest the delete button…ISIS would surrender and dig it’s own grave…she hardly took pics 15yr ago but i convinced her…her dell has hours of video and 1000s of pics and so does her phone

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  2. My guy is the same way. He hasn’t taken a decent photograph of me in our near 10 years. He takes wonderful selfies and landscapes etc, but every photo he takes of me is the worst I have ever seen. The photo in your post is most beautimous!

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  3. I was going through my old photos to prepare a memorial video for my mother and there were decades with no photos of her. I realized that those were the years that she felt too fat or too thin or too ugly in some way so she didn’t allow photos or she destroyed them. I have since vowed to cherish any and every photo of myself regardless of my insecurities because my family loves me and will want to remember me just the way I am. Of course, I’m not opposed to photoshop and cropping. ha ha

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  4. As I began reading this post, I was dying to just jump in an give my opinion. But then I got to your second-to-last paragraph – which was pretty much what I was going to tell you. But let me go a little further – maybe your mother did take those photos on purpose – because she wanted to capture the real you, not the person with the fake smile who poses for the camera. I have lots of pictures that my kids wish I had never taken, and those are the photos I value the most.

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  5. Sometimes I am really glad that there aren’t a lot of pictures of me. It’s usually me behind the camera so a photo of me is a rarity. I found a picture at my mom’s the last time I was there. It was a picture that brought tears to my eyes. I remember when it was taken and telling my mom that I wanted her to throw it out. It was me with my brother. We were goofing off and I stuck my tongue out at the camera when my mom pointed it at us. I hated that picture but when I found it last year, I cried. I remembered my brother as he put his arm around me in the picture and the smile on his face. My brother died when he was 37…sudden cardiac death. So I brought the picture home and scanned it and it’s now in the photo album for the FB family group. Even the beholder’s eye changes over time.

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  6. Family photos. For every one shot of me there are about 15 of my sister. It used to bother me but not so much now as I don’t like having my picture taken anyway. In a former relationship, there was a smashing one of me, if you ignored the bunny fingers of boyfriend ‘being funny’, or another time in my best frock with a natural smile on my face and his hand waving in the background. Hubs takes pictures of me and even if they’re unflattering, he doesn’t care, because they are Me, the One he loves to pieces, warts and all (and I have more than my fair share of those too).

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  7. Those of us who became the family photographer would love any pics of us…even bad ones. But, if you have a lot, I’d ditch a few bad ones. It’s true, though, some of those bad ones may turn out to be the favorites one day. ☺

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  8. My mother fashioned herself to be quite the shutter bug. One time she set up a sheet and made us all pose for portraits. We all look like goons. I was maybe three and was all wiggles and giggles. My sister was 11 and was all attitude. We were what we were in her eyes I am sure of. I love those series of shots. I do not have many of myself after a certain age because I avoided the camera because of self-image issues. I found a picture of me when I was maybe 14 and was stunned to see what I thought I looked like was not at all what I was. Wish I had seen it earlier.

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  9. Pingback: My Article Read (10-13-2015) | My Daily Musing

  10. I don’t think we ever really like photos of ourselves. But I have to say, this post was not going where I thought it was going. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but given how you’ve described your relationship with you mother before, I was expecting it to be more… I don’t know. Anyhow, good job on making the decision to delete the less-than-flattering pictures of your kids! They will thank you for it one day… silently. Or maybe you will just thank yourself.

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  11. Editing history is an interesting subject. When your kids look back on what you have kept from their past, will there only be the very best photos, the very best drawings while the scribble, the cries, frowns, whatevers all get thrown out?
    Then again, if you do not delete or edit something, you have no room to move and no space for growth.
    You also have to find the time for all that editing. I take a lot of photos so that’s going to be a huge project.
    I think I’ve kept most of my kids artwork. This has been very easy for our son who barely does any and a bit overwhelming with our daughter’s constant creations.
    JUst adding another thought to deleting the ugly photos, I do delete some of these of whomever I’ve photographed based on the idea that I wouldn’t want a photo of myself looking like that.
    Anyway, it’s getting too late to be coherent so I’ll head off to bed xx Rowena

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  12. I have one black and white photograph, that is completely unflattering to both my children in it, and it is my very favorite picture, that for twenty years I have kept hidden in fear they would destroy it. To me it is just so tender and beautiful, and real. Maybe I’ll get up the nerve to blog (and post) about it someday.

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