Back in 1988, my great-grandmother died and my world became far less wonderful.
Born in 1899, she had been the first of six to a Methodist mother and a Baptist missionary father. They’d traveled Texas and even spent time in Cuba. During the many times she told us stories of Cuba, she’d speak of the young, beautiful women who grabbed fireflies out of the air and stuck a hat pin through them (ouch!). These ladies wore the insects in their hair, their locks blinking with the “beautiful” glow of the fireflies’ light.
She could easily start with some simple tale, but by the time she was done, you’d have been transported to another time and place. The easy cadence of her words flowed freely and sounded like music to my young ears. She had been a major influence in my life, and my heart hurt when she had to leave us.
As we went through her things, we discovered she’d done something truly horrible. She’d torn her face out of all her pictures.
I remember when we found the first box of photos and initially, I thought it had been an accident. But the more we found, the more we realized she’d purposely torn her face out. We all looked at each other and through frustrated laughter, attempted to find any photos she’d left alone.
There were none.
Out of all her photos, she’d torn out her face. Her beautiful, smiling, lovely face. The same smile and eyes as my brothers, my father, myself—gone.
We knew that she hadn’t liked her picture taken, but we had no idea how much she hated it. How much she’d criticized herself for not being what she considered worthy of a photo.
Thankfully, we’d taken plenty of pictures that she hadn’t gotten her hands on, but in writing this, I realized I’m just as guilty of her mentality.
I hold my hand up and say, “Oh, no, don’t take my picture. I’m _______(insert excuse here).”
“Don’t take my picture. I don’t like my smile because my teeth are crooked.”
“Don’t take my picture because I don’t like my outfit.”
“Don’t take my picture because I’m too fat.”
Don’t take my picture because, because, because, because, because….
Why? Why do we not consider ourselves worthy of a photo? of holding on to a moment, a bit of laughter, a piece of history?
Here’s my nugget of advice to all of you beautiful, gorgeous moms out there: Put your hand down and get in the picture.
Most of us will never be Red Carpet perfect, but who cares? In 100 years no one will care if you had a zit on your chin or your hair wasn’t great or you weighed far more than you wanted. My great-great-grandchildren will want to see my face, my eyes, my smile. They will want to see who they are and where they came from. They will want to see you and all of your imperfections.
Make it your goal for 2019 to get back in front of the camera. Get those photos taken of yourself. Capture a moment and have fun. Whatever you do, don’t take your face out of the frame.
One day, someone is going to see you, and it’s going to mean the world to them.