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Photo Fear


A friend of mine sent me this link a couple of weeks ago, accompanied by the comment, “When I was in high school, I thought I was so ugly that I never was in pictures and I totally regret it.” She hated camera lenses. She hated the way she looked.

The men reading this post are probably already perplexed by it, while the women are even now bursting into tears. It is so true. Many of us have lost huge chunks of our history due to “photo fear.” We see ourselves in photos and think, “Ugh. I look terrible. I’ll lose 20 pounds, cut my hair, wait for my acne to clear up, get braces, wait for the next solar eclipse, ___________ [fill in the blank], and then I’ll start being in pictures again.” We promise ourselves, pinky-swear, cross-our-hearts-and-hope-to-die, but the next thing we know, we’re ten years older and not a bit bolder. And as the above blogger notes, guess what? We look ten years older to boot. Double whammy.

I have almost nothing from my college years documented on film. In part this was because I ran around like a madwoman, living the life of an overachiever and overcommitter, only to wake up one day, diploma in hand and future before me. But vanity and photo fear came into play, too. I think I only had about four months of my senior year where I felt somewhat pretty. Four months out of four years — what an unbelievable tragedy. I loved my college experience. But I have no photos to prove it.

I’ve taken (and been in) more photos in recent years thanks to digital photography and a newfound posing prowess. Any woman who has staged her own photo shoot for the purpose of online dating sites or Facebook photo albums knows what I’m talking about. We’ve learned how to stand with one foot forward, one hip turned and one arm bent to streamline our silhouettes. We have doctorate degrees in how to suck in, twist, elevate and hide any number of body parts for maximum presentation. Trust me, Annie Leibovitz has nothing on us.

But the fact remains: we need to get a grip. We need to reclaim our photo opps, both for our sakes and the sakes of our grandchildren. Ladies, I need a witness here! And guys, we need support! Or do you suffer from photo fear as well? Please let us know.

Thanks to Facebook, I’ve reconnected with some college friends who have shared their photos. In a spirit of reckless abandon, I’m posting a photo of me in my college glory days.  I look positively ridiculous (I’m surprised I didn’t start a fire with those glasses), but I am so grateful to have this photo in my stash. There are tons of memories associated with it.

So guys and gals, let’s not be afraid to jump in the picture. And when you do, pull someone along with you. Here’s a start: this weekend as you’re out and about, take a photo of yourself in action. Then send it to us and we may post it as a declaration of freedom.

Let’s take back our history, folks, and shed our photo fear. Start snapping!


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About the Author

Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson is the director of Boundless and young adults at Focus on the Family and hosts The Boundless Show, a national radio program and podcast. She loves connecting with single young adults and strategizing how to better equip them for life, relationships and a faith that goes the distance; she does not love managing budgets or signing contracts, but realizes that’s part of her job, too. Lisa can often be heard at conferences and on radio and TV, getting worked up about dating, relationships, faith and hip-hop. She grew up in San Jose, California, is a graduate of Trinity International University in Chicago, and spent a good chunk of her life in media relations before joining Boundless. She runs to counterbalance her love of pastries and chicken tikka masala, and often quotes her mom, who’s known to say outrageous things. She’s the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose (David C. Cook). Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaCAnderson.


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