#100bravethingsproject #26 Say Cheese~ 40th Birthday Photoshoot!
I avoided the camera for years. It made me anxious, annoyed even when people i.e. friends insisted on capturing a photo every time we got together. We don’t need another photo I thought, ashamed and embarrassed. I had gained weight, a lot of weight; I didn’t want to advertise it with photos. I know we all have that one friend who goes on and on about her massive weight gain of 4 pounds like it’s the greatest tragedy the world has ever seen. I’m not her. I wasn’t hiding from four or five or even 20 or 30 pounds, I was hiding from gaining over 100 pounds and it was crushing, all consuming and exhausting.
I Weighed 20 pounds More than her Husband!
I remember driving out of town with my girlfriends in search of the perfect bridesmaid’s dresses for one of our best gal’s upcoming nuptials. While we were driving one of the ladies got talking about how her husband needed to lose weight; he’s up to XXX she said in total disgust. I was quiet in the backseat. I sunk into my seat a little deeper as I swallowed the lump in my throat knowing full well that I (as a 5’4 woman) I weighed 20 pounds more than her husband at the time. An uneasiness spread throughout my body like a virus and the thought of dress shopping became even less appealing to me. To make everything even more uncomfortable, when we got there, they didn’t have a single dress in the entire shop in my size. While everyone else was trying on dresses, laughing and having a good time I was standing there awkwardly watching, lurking and hoping nobody would notice.
For years I avoided family photos telling myself I’d do them next year when I finally lost the weight. I told this story again and again, year after year. I told it so many times in fact, that other than some pictures that were taken at our wedding, Braedon and I only have one professional family photo together during his eighteen years here and it’s incredibly heartbreaking. As I type these words the tears are pooling in my eyes, my hands are getting shaky and I can feel that lump growing in my throat again. I can never get those opportunities back. I can’t rewind time and finally say cheese. I can never say, what’s important is capturing these memories. What’s important is showing up for my son and smiling for those freaking pictures. For us, there are no more tomorrows. We can’t take photos next year. There simply is no time left to do what I kept saying I’d do next year. Isn’t that a heartbreaking tragedy?
I Won’t Hide
I can’t even tell you what I’d do to turn back time but we all know that isn’t possible. I am grateful though that I did at least start taking a few more photos of him together as we documented his health journey to share with all of you. I will cherish those pics forever. While crushing and painful, this has been a humbling and important lesson. When it comes down to it the size of our bodies doesn’t really matter. Let me say that again. The size of our bodies doesn’t really matter. Of course, I’m still working on my health goals and to be completely honest I’m still working towards weight loss. I want to feel better and have more energy. More vitality. I want to be stronger. I want to be able to run with ease; heck I want to be able to climb the stairs with the laundry with more ease. That’s besides the point though.
The point I want to make is that I won’t hide anymore and you shouldn’t either. I won’t feel badly about myself when the stores don’t have my size. I won’t say, when I lose the weight I’ll do ***fill in the blank***. I won’t cringe when someone says, let’s get a picture. I will stand up tall, I’ll push my shoulders back and flash my best smile. I’ll say cheese with everyone else and I’ll take note of how freaking blessed I am to be living a life worth capturing in time. The people that really love me. The people that really love you. They love us. We don’t need to weigh less to make them love us; they already do.
100 Brave Things #26
Friends, this may not seem like a brave act to you but I can assure you, this was so far outside my comfort zone. I thought about cancelling so many times. I did this photoshoot to celebrate my fortieth birthday though. I did it to remind myself and others that we are worthy of living our lives exactly as we are right now in this moment. We do not need to hide. We can shine our lights at any size or shape, big or small or anywhere in between. We can even celebrate our age, another thing the world has brainwashed into being ashamed of.
Every day I wake up to this strange world; this world my child is no longer a part of. His absence reminds me to show up exactly as I am today. It reminds me that the alternative to growing older is dying young.
Tips for embracing yourself exactly as you are:
- Show up- don’t try to hide
- Love yourself (not necessarily your body but you) as you are.
- Know that you are worthy.
- Don’t complain about growing older- remind yourself of the alternative.
- Stop comparing yourself to others (especially strangers on the internet).
- Smile for that freaking picture- I promise you when you look back at pictures with loved ones you lost you won’t care about the rolls on your belly because you’ll be so glad you have those pictures!
***Special thanks to Sherry Brown Photography for capturing these photos and making me feel like a pro!!!***
XO Tiffany Agnew
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