Life Doesn’t Wait For You To ‘Get Thin’. Life Is Happening Right Now.

Blogcademy Zaandam-10

Kerry Murray

Dear Kat
So, this cuts pretty close to the bone. I’m off to New York with my husband this Autumn and I was thinking about hiring a photographer for a shoot. I was thinking this earlier in the year, when I was also planning on dropping a couple of stone, and needless to say with a particularly stressful wedding season (I’m a wedding photographer myself) and one thing or another its almost time for the trip and I have not lost a pound.

My husband and I haven’t spoken about the prospect of a shoot for a while, and I’d been thinking I wouldn’t bother. But today I was photographing a slightly larger lady, and looking back at the images I was thinking, she looks so happy and so in love, and what beautiful eyes she has. Then I thought, why can’t I see myself that way in photos, rather than seeing chin/ tummy/ arms?

I know I’ll most likely not like myself in the images, which makes me think it would be a waste of time and money, but at the same time I do want the photos to record me and my husband in the city.

Do you or any of your readers feel the same about themselves in photos, and if so how do you tackle it? Should I just man up and realise I’ll never be a size 10? And, should I have photos or not? You’re in front of the camera a fair amount, any advice on being photographed?

Hey babe, first off… you are beautiful… and just in case you didn’t hear me the first time listen to me again: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

But I hear you, and I feel the same way 99% of the time. I constantly compare myself to my slimmer friends, and often catch myself thinking things like “If only I could lose a stone, I’d feel so much better”.

Deep down I know this isn’t true. That the shape and size of our bodies is no indication to how happy we are, how talented we might be, or how much we’re loved. It doesn’t mean squat, but it is still a constant battle for a lot of us. I’m always having to check myself when these feelings start to creep in. So I completely understand how you feel.

Here’s the thing though, photographs are not about being perfect. They’re about communicating a feeling, and freeze-framing a moment in our lives. It’s so important.

While at my parents’ house a few weeks ago my mum brought out all the old photo albums with photos of us all inside. Looking back and seeing those pictures of our whole family together was amazing. We laughed at my mother’s giant hair, our questionable fashion choices, and the fact that my dad looked about 12 when I was born. My grandparents looked young, happy, and full of life. It was amazing. It didn’t once cross my mind to focus on anybody’s ‘flaws’, I was too busy hearing the stories about trips I don’t remember, and reminiscing about how special those times were.

As a young adult I avoided the camera as much as possible. So much so that I think I literally have only about ten photographs of myself from my time at University. I spent so much time fixating on what was wrong with my body, and picking apart every imperfection over and over, that I stopped living. I stopped taking photos… which is really sad, because I LOVE taking photos!

The most ridiculous thing about it is that I now look back at those few snaps I do have a wonder what the hell I was thinking. Now all I see is a really young looking, slim girl who, I’d love to still look like now!

at uni looking tiny

This photo cracks me up because I think I was about to run out of cigarettes, which was clearly the worst thing to ever happen to a poor student! (I don’t smoke any more)

looking young

This is when Gareth and I moved into our first flat, just after I finished Uni. This was also before he started working out! We were both so skinny!

first trip to new york

My first trip to New York, aged 21!

Perfection is a myth, a lie, it doesn’t exist. If you woke up tomorrow a size 10 I’m sure you’d focus on something else you wanted to change instead. How we deal with those feelings is what really matters. Do you let them take over and rule your life, or do you tell them to shut up, sod off and push on regardless?

Life doesn’t wait for you to ‘get thin’. Life is happening right now. It’s marching on with or without you and it’s your job to capture those important moments for looking back on later. Remember, you’re never going to live this same day again.

Do it. Have those photos taken. Far from being a constant reminder of how much weight you want to lose, they’ll hopefully be images you’ll look back on for years to come and think “Wow, wasn’t that the trip of a lifetime, and goodness, don’t we both look so young and beautiful!”

40 comments

  1. Sarah

    I wish there was a way to see ourselves the way people we love see us. I’m very happy with my style, and my life, but I don’t feel very pretty.

    We did our own thing for our lovely wedding, which took place in a Victorian cemetery. I wore a second-hand (or third, or fourth?) dress; my husband wore Harris tweed. We found a great photographer, and I was honest – I wanted someone to take good pictures of us both.

    I was so worried about how I’d look in casual pics that we asked people not to take photos (I thought it would make for a more relaxed day for all, as well). It’s my one regret really. We have great photos, but they were taken by a stranger – with hindsight I’d love to see what the people who love us saw on our wedding day.

  2. Bran

    Thanks for posting this Kat. I have always had a massive issue with my weight. Even now as I type this, I am getting all emotional about how I have ‘let myself go’ over the years. I am my harshest judge and the thought of having my photograph taken fills me with dread. Hence why I am usually the one behind the camera on holidays.

    When I think back to my late teens and early twenties, I hardly ate, I smoked and had one catastrophic relationship after another and reading your post has made me realise just how much of my waking hours I spend being angry and upset with myself, for letting my weight issues still rule my life at aged 43! I have a very loving husband and two children who think I’m the best mummy in the world, but sometimes (probably a little indulgent and selfish) I just want to look the way I used to.

    This comment is not a sob story, and I definitely don’t want sympathy, in fact it has a happy ending. I just want the lovely lady in your blog post to know she’s loved. I have moments when I absolutely loathe myself but when I look around at my friends and my family and try to look at myself through their eyes, it’s a much better view. My advice, hold your head up high and smile your cheesiest grin. It’s infectious. x

  3. I know I felt fat and ugly throughout most of my late teens and early twenties. It came as a bit of a shock recently when I was looking through some old photos and realised I was probably at my skinniest then! (I’ll just mention I feel much happier in my body these days even though I’m at my heaviest ever.) As you say, Kat, you’re always going to find something to pick apart.

    Having the photos for the memories is most important, and don’t forget that your partner thinks you’re ridiculously sexy just as you are. Just try and see yourself through their eyes.

  4. Harri

    Hi Kat, Thanks for this post, I think it’s a really important topic. I’m getting married next year and have the same feeling that most brides have I’m sure of wanting to lose weight. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?! I’m 30 next Jan and the sad fact of the matter is I’ve spent my entire 20s on a diet trying to get to this mythical ideal of what I SHOULD look like, when looking back at photos there was nothing really wrong with me apart from a bit of puppy fat, it’s so sad. Thankfully I’m finally beating the demons and I’m kinder to myself, but the closer the wedding gets the more I feel the pressure to change myself or get ‘dress ready’ LADIES – This is BULLSHIT.. please excuse my french. WE ARE ALL LOVELY JUST AS WE ARE. We have found amazing partners who love every inch of us. If they love you with a hang over, in your pjs, with a cold – they will be blown away in your amazing wedding dress (or suit or whatever your want to wear to embrace your own identities!) We need to stand up to the wedding industry which promotes this idea of having to lose weight for your wedding. Instead, use all that energy to focus on the things you like about yourself, and surrounding yourself with people who love you. Get a great photographer and act like the super star you are on the big day. xx

  5. Post author

    Aww Bran hugsss. I also want to say that when those old photos were taken of me I was MISERABLE. I also smoked 20 a day, had an eating disorder and other serious issues with depression and all that comes with it. Gareth read this post last night before it went live and said “I’d rather you looked like you do now, which is beautiful AND happy, because when I look back at those old photos I just remember what a horrible time it was for you”

    AWW. Its true though, I’d rather be a little bit rounder, and a million times happier than completely obsessed with how I look and not being able to see how damn skinny I really was.

    SENDINING LOVE!!

  6. Dai Do

    As always, you are so …like, just get out of my thoughts already!!! I unfollowed a crapload of wedding pages on FB this morning, because in the year that I’d been following them I don’t remember even seeing a slightly lopsided bridesmaid, let alone a bride who looked anything like I do, or my friends, or most of the brides I’ve had the pleasure of seeing on their wedding day. And it had started to make me feel…like, if I didn’t look like that, I wouldn’t be a ‘real’ bride. Then I remembered that what was going to make me a real bride is the freakin’ geeky ass smile on my face when I say my vows. So thank you, Kat. For this reminder.

  7. sabrina

    Hey all,

    it’s so sad that it seems we lost our teens and early 20s to feeling like shit because of how we looked. (not that I was any different).

    I think that as you get a little bit older you care way less about what other people think? I think back to the horrible things people said to me at college because I was (and am) still a bit plumptious! If someone was that mean to me now I’d tell them to do one.
    Life is too short not to eat chocolate cake.

    So take the pictures. You’ll regret it if you don’t. And what’s stopping you? You’ll look amazing because beauty comes from within.. If you’re happy that’s what will show in the picture.

    If other people don’t like the way you look or how your hair is or whatever,, It says MORE about them than it does about you.

    Hugs x

  8. Great article thank you. I’m a photographer and I do airbrush all my images if I’m photographing a wedding however I still maintain a very natural look. Just mainly soften skin tone and blemishes (I suffer with hormonal acne myself 🙁 I’d never dream of making anyone slimmer although I do know how to do this and been tempted to do it on images of myself on my thighs in particular! If you go overboard with editing getting rid of all people ‘imperfections/wrinkles they start to look unreal and some how loose their personality. I say go for the shoot in
    New York I would be buzzing if i even had the opportunity to go there! Enjoy it 🙂

  9. tami

    I love this article!! I am 38 7 months pregnant, the heaviest I’ve ever been. …and the happiest! I was a skinny mini in my teens but as miserable as hell. I remember one boyfriend telling me it was lovely to be with someone who didn’t care how they looked and had such a great personality. …it broke me! We should celebrate ourselves what ever our size. We are all individual beautiful creatures. I didn’t have any pics taken when I was pregnant with my previous 2 children in my early 20 and regret it so much.this time I’ve taken hundreds and really don’t care if I lose my baby weight once little one is here or how long it takes…If at all. I have a beautiful happy family who I love and who loves me. This is what we should concentrate on and take as many pics as possible to keep our dodgy hair choices and fashion sense alive to entertain future generations. Keep smiling for the camera girls!! xx

  10. Thank you so much for this post. A wondeful bit of perspective for me – we are just 5 weeks away from our wedding day now and I’m getting all this silly weight niggles that I NEVER EVER had before. I’ve even bought weighing scales!

    But this is a great piece to remind me that my wedding day isnt about my arms or tummy, it’s about love and family and belonging. x

  11. It’s a strange facet of womanhood isn’t it. I’ve always obsessed about looking fat in photos – since I was in my late teens, I had chubby cheeks/puppy fat. I look back now and think – I wish I was that slim now! I try really hard not to overthink having my photo taken now – as I know in 10 years time I’ll wish I still looked like this. It breaks my heart though when I hand over wedding photos to a beautiful bride and I get this reaction, I always think – can’t you see what we all see. But then we don’t do we?

  12. I just wanted to put my experience into the hat too! My husband and I have been together for 10 years. 18 months ago I lost almost 2stone but we both also went through a rather not nice time in our lives, not us as a relationship, we stuck strong throughout. I think the stress probably helped the weight drop off!! Anyway fast fwd 12 months and we seemed to have moved forward so much and we planned to renew out vows on holiday, I was so excited! However all that seemed to happen since christmas was the weight sneaking on and on again… but i was HAPPY! I wasn’t stressed, my business was doing well, we’d moved to a beautiful cottage and life was kicking ass again. We planned out vow renewal although I started to worry about how I would look. It was an intimate affair with just us and our 2 children on a beach, truly perfect. I started to stress about my weight but also being a wedding photographer, wedding season had kicked in and I barely had time to do anything let alone give a shit about all the wedding food going in my mouth at various weddings!!

    I had hired a photographer I new as a friend and that I knew was fucking brilliant. I was so anxious but also completely trusted her. When I saw the photos it literally took my breath away, because she wasn’t photographing my fat arms or my thunder thighs, she had captured me and James in love and expressing our love and strength to each other again in a beautiful place. She caught the feelings, the warmth, the tenderness, our family unit and I’m going to plaster my walls with these photos because nothing is more important than any of this, not even a double chin.

    DO IT!
    This is out renewal…
    http://www.jordannamarston.com/2014/08/23/creative-destination-wedding-photography/

  13. You soooo struck a chord with me! Also a photographer and absolutely abhor my photo taken. My husband just had the same conversation a week ago. I fixated so much on how imperfect I was I missed out on a lot of life. And still do it today. A million excuses. When I look back at photos when I thought I was hideous I see I was thin and gorgeous. So sad.

    Do it!! We tell our clients to love themselves. We work hard to provide images that reflect both internal and external beauty yet we are nuts. So girlfriend hire that photog, be you, let your inner happiness shine and you’ll love your photographs! Hugs!

  14. Oh god. The double chin. The triple chin. The committee of chins who plot mercilessly against me in photos, melting those guttural feelings of shame and self-disgust, and mainlining them straight into my stomach.

    I totally know what you mean. But I also have a real problem with airbrushing and other such ‘touching ups’ of women’s bodies as a social norm. I don’t want my future babies (boys or girls) to grow up to believe that women are meant to look like A, and consequentially women looking like B, C or D is nothing more than a failure of our gender.

    So, I called myself on it, and booked the photographer (Marianne Chua) who, in our initial Skype chat, told me very frankly that she did not believe in photoshopping women’s bodies. Full stop. My chins, wings and other wobbly bits would be there in ink and paper for generations to scrutinize.

    Booking Marianne was a bit of a scary moment for me; I have a photographer friend (Nikki Cooper- who will be there as a guest), and she has, on my insistence, smoothed out a few lines for me in the past. But I feel like my wedding pictures are too important to be compromised for my own vanity. Plus, this way, I know that the onus is on me now; if it really does matter to me to be more slim, I have to do something about it.

    I know I need someone with strong feminist principles behind the shutter; giving me confidence. Someone cheering for me, all of me, not the perceived ‘bloggable’ beauty of my body and my wedding. Will I lose weight? Probably not. It’s winter soon, and I like cake.

    So my advice? Get a photographer who is going to make you feel so empowered and confident about yourself, that when you look back at your album in years to come, you, and those around you, can see the woman you actually are. Not some prissy cosmo cover girl.

  15. I think this is something that all of us in the industry struggle with. We style and photography beautiful people and objects and as creatives we are always looking for new ways to make something look amazing and inviting. But when it comes to us we hate being in front of the camera. I HATE having photos taken of me, HATE it… my business partner who is a photographer HATES that I HATE it because she can never catch me on camera. With that said she also HATES to be captured on camera even if its just quick Instagram snap the direction is elaborate to create that perfect and acceptable picture. Don’t get my double chin, take it from a bit higher, oh no another one my arms look fat in that one. Yes I wish we could all see each other through others eyes. One day my business partner gave me a very hard look at how I view myself. Out of the blue she said: “I don’t think you know how pretty you are?” Not in a weird way but I am always thinking if I could just loose a few more kg’s and then my business partner and I can take new profiles… But you are right life doesn’t wait for you to loose wait.

    Embrace the curves and enjoy living life!

    You have and amazing energy about you and it clearly shines through your photo and you clearly rock it!

  16. Inspirational post, and great to see your photos. I was similar when I was a teenager and have hardly any photos of me, which I think is a realy shame. (To be honest I think it would be cathartic to see how things have changed) I hope I can have the courage to not let ‘looking better’ stop me from doing things.

  17. Charlie

    Literally this morning I was looking back on a family shoot I organised for my motley crew and was oohing and aahing over my mum, dad and sisters. Yet skimming over any of me and hating my bags and chins.

    Thank you for the pep talk…really a lot.

  18. Becks

    I’m sat here eating my lunch at my desk at work, reading this lovely article and comments. I really wanted a sandwich, but I get married in T-Minus 16 days therefore I had an internal dilemma “it must be carb free” as opposed to “I want a fecking sandwich”. The No-Carb option won and I’m eating a pre-packed salad and ham…..tasty….

    My husband to be loves me, my friends point out all of my positives and slim waist, all I see is a my now-flaring-up acne and podge tummy…. WTF is wrong with us? In my line of work I see new mummys all of the time, often very soon after giving birth, they are all beautiful and loved up with a gorgeous bundle of joy, why do I obsess over being a size 10? I’ve seen the worst of life and the best of life in a single working day (a bit melodramatic but I’m a nurse, lol, they are long working days), why do I obsess over being a size 10…size 8…size 6…????

    I’ve never, not once, commented on an article, today I feel I have had an epiphany and I vow, every day, to TRY and see past my flaws! My future husband consistently tells me to, my best friends consistently tell me to, and now I think, my inner self will tell me to.

    Pass the loaf of frigging bread…..

  19. Carla

    What a great article. I have spent all my life feeling miserable about my weight. I have never been super skinny, I have big bones and a Mediterranean body, so no miracles. I still have body issues and this annoys my future husband a lot because he always sees me beautiful and hates when I say: “thanks but… (and here always follows a comment about my weight), there was a time when he didn’t even dare to say thatI looked beautiful, afraid of me denying it. The other day I discovered some photos… How blind could I be??? Ok, I was not super skinny, but I looked great! I was thin, healthy and with beautiful curves. This makes me think, how blind am I now, then? It’s true that one has to keep herself healthy. Eating veggies and going to the gym has many benefits. But there is a huge gap between being healthy and starvation. Our wedding is in 8 months, and I will do my best to be healthy, nit until that day but always. But I promise that from now on I will make an effort for not being obsessed and for trying to look at myself the same way Pedro does. Thank you Kat, you are an inspiration,I am now printing this article to hang it in my wall.

  20. Thank you for posting this, it’s exactly what I needed to read at the moment (funny how that works out!) I truly hope this lovely lady really has the tip of a lifetime 🙂

  21. Thank you for posting this, it’s exactly what I needed to read at the moment (funny how that works out!) I truly hope this lovely lady really has the trip of a lifetime 🙂

  22. Carla

    I’m not sure if I’ll ever be happy with my body! As a size 10/ 34B I thought I was fat and needed to lose weight and now as a size 16/34G I still feel the same way! Perhaps it’s to do with what we are told is beautiful, perhaps it’s that we always want something we don’t have. I know that I look at friends when they tell me they need to lose weight and think, Christ if she thinks she’s fat – what must she think if me?!

  23. Filed in the “inspiration” section of my OneNote notebooks.

    Practice makes IMPROVEMENT, not perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist (at least not in us mere mortals). Once we stop beating ourselves up over our imperfections and embrace our quirks life gets a lot easier. 🙂

  24. Wow, I really needed this today. I got married on 8/31 and as guest photos are coming in and I’ve been finding myself picking me apart. I’m about to turn 40 and in my time I have been through crazy body image issues ever since I hurt myself in college and was no longer an athlete. I did a lot of self harm from bulimia to drug addiction. Through therapy and conscious self appreciation, I pulled myself out of a pretty big pit. This post reminded me that you have to work at self love and it’s a lifelong commitment. I can’t let myself go to that dark place again. So, I decided to go back through the photos and take time to look at all the things I found beautiful in each one, especially what I liked about myself in said pictures. To those of us who have to work hard at self acceptance, never give up loving yourself. Find something to love about yourself each and every day. Cherish yourself just as you cherish your loved ones. Thanks for the reminder, Kat!

  25. A quote I saw on one of those meme thingies always sticks with me – ‘I wish I was as fat as I was the first time I thought i was fat’ – we spend do much time thinking we’re fast but like Kat when i actually look back at Old photos I was a slip of a thing compared to now! Get a photographer in New York-we got married there and having a great photographer who knew where best to shoot was the best thing we spent money on. Enjoy every second and alk you’ll see when you look at those photos is how happy you and your man were.

  26. Kat, you always know exactly the right thing to say and I find myself nodding along muttering “Fuck, yeah!” to myself 🙂 I have known for years that I am not slim. I am never going to be slim. What can I say? I love my food too much!! What I do know, though, is that I have boundless energy, great stamina and I may huff and puff a bit but I can carry a person down a flight of stairs (I’m a Paramedic so sometimes I do need to do this!). I have a tummy, a big bottom and “thunder thighs” and, sometimes, in photographs, I have a couple of chins when I laugh but, you know what? I don’t care any more. I agonised over the whole “should I lose weight” debate in the 18 months leading up to my wedding and, in the end, I realised it didn’t really matter. I had a dress made for me that made me feel beautiful, and 2 good friends who made me look a better version of myself with my hair and make-up so when I look at my wedding photos now it’s not the chins or flabby belly I see. What I do see is the overwhelmingly happy smile on my face, my joy at marrying the man I love and the real laughter throughout the course of the day. It’s those things that transport me back to the day and put another big smile on my face and that’s what really matters to me.

  27. Simone

    Thanks for this reminder! I’m also very uncomfortable when someone starts taking pictures and when I look at the pictures afterwards, I cringe but I’ve found that if I preserve those pictures anyway, I am delighted to see a happy, glowing, younger me a few years later. I don’t see a chubby (or chubbier) me. I only notice the feelings I portrayed in those pictures. I can note whether I was self conscious or sexy, sad or elated, annoyed or relaxed. What my body looked like is a tiny side note not relevant to the moment in the picture.

  28. This post touches me deeply…really makes me want to try harder to live in the moment.
    I am getting married in July and I am currently 21 and a half stone (301 lbs) and my brain has become so freaked out with the thought of trying to lose so much weight for the day that I’ve lost any joy in planning my wedding. My mum wants to buy my wedding dress but I won’t even look until I’ve lost some weight. I even considered moving the date of the wedding.

    But regardless of whether I lose weight or not…time will still pass and that wedding will get closer…I need to enjoy my life before it passes me by.

  29. I so agree with all you’ve said Kat! I recently got some old pictures out from uni – I remember been on constant diets and unhappy in my skin. Now I look back at those pictures and think how young, youthful and full of life I looked. Also looking back I look slimmer than I remember feeling. Now after having a child, I know my body won’t ever look like that again .. and you know what… I’m ok with that, because I’m too busy living my life in the moment rather than worrying how big I must look in the photos Been on that contestant diet worry is just so draining! I love looking back at photos – those memories are stored there forever and reminiscing is the BEST!

  30. Sara Jane

    Thank you for this post! I got engaged at Christmas while I was home in Scotland. I was very excited and since I live in Canada I wanted to go and try some dresses on with my Mum, while I had the chance. Her response was “Maybe you should lose some weight first!”. I have heard this so much from her in the past like “no one will be your friend unless you lose weight” and “I don’t know why you have no self confidence”. Now when I look back at photos of my late teens/ early twenties I like yourself I see how thin I was. What my Mum was saying then and now was more to do with her insecurities. I am currently the heaviest I have ever been at 185 lbs and I do need to lose a little weight for my health. But I’m not going to let it stop me doing anything including buying a wedding dress. I’m also no longer going to let my Mums digs get at me all she has done is cause herself to be left out of an important/ fun step in her daughters life.

  31. Laura

    Thank you Kat, I really, really needed this today. I lost a stone and a half three years ago and have since put 3/4 of a stone back on. Even though I’m by no means overweight and actually probably the same size as my best friends (whose figures I think are beautiful), I still feel pressure to lose the weight and feel like my weight looks wrong on me.
    I go on holiday in a month and get married in four and feel so disappointed in myself for not losing ‘the weight’ in time. It doesn’t help that I insist on buying clothes one size too small (because that’s the size I was when I first lost my weight) for the holiday/ Christmas parties and now I don’t fit in them so I feel like a gross failure.
    Reading these comments was really touching, I’m going to try my best to concentrate on being healthy, whether that affects the scales or not and buying clothes in the right bloomin’ size! I have found a few excercise classes I love and want to be able to enjoy myself in moderation. I know my fiancé is incredible and I am so lucky to be marrying him and he certainly won’t mind if I don’t lose that last bloody 10 pounds!!! Why are we our own worst enemies?!
    Thank you for the wise words x

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