Pictures Tell The Story: The Good and the Bad

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There was a time, way back in the dark ages, where cameras didn’t provide instant results, but rather you had to take your film to the store, go back home, drive back to the store to pick up your pictures, and then laugh in pleasure or gasp in horror at what the camera revealed.

I remember sitting in the parking lot of the camera shop, opening the package of pictures and sliding them out of their envelope. I’d grab the glossy stack, and start shuffling through them like a deck of cards. Children playing, cute. Birthday parties, so much fun. Who was that person at the edge of the picture? ME! I’d stop at the picture that had me in it and stare in disbelief. Who was that woman?

I knew I was wearing a size 26/28, but sometimes I couldn’t really see what that looked like. I knew the last time I got on the scale it was almost to its 300 pound capacity. But I had a really hard time seeing what I looked like to other people.

“This is why I don’t get my picture taken,” I’d scream at myself. “The camera just isn’t kind to me.” I’d quickly shuffle through the rest of the pictures, not really enjoying them, because all I could think about was the one picture I was in. “Why did John take my picture?” I’d fume internally. “He knows I hate getting my picture taken.”

Before I got home, I’d remove the offending picture(s) and throw them in the trash. If they were of something important like my birthday or Mother’s Day, I’d keep the “best” ones, but the other ones, I ditched. That’s why if you look at the before pictures on the blog, they aren’t very good pictures. No posed portrait shots, no “you look great today” let me take your picture shots. Just random pictures that I allowed someone to snap of me when my defenses were down.

Time after time I’d see pictures of myself, and stare in disbelief. Every single picture surprised me. This probably says something about my lack of self-perception, but it is how I felt. Surprised. There were certain pictures that were worse than others, like this one:

Diane Carbonell Before Picture

When I saw this picture of myself, I never wore shorts again. It’s interesting that I still ate chocolate, blamed the bad picture on the outfit, and never thought to put the blame for the bad picture right on myself for getting so big.

I’ve read weight loss stories of people who began losing weight after seeing an unflattering picture of themselves. For them, that was the defining moment. I wish it had been for me, because I would have not ended up morbidly obese for so many years. Rather than the bad picture spurring me to action, the pantry was my solace.

I wish I had been more confident in myself, and been able to appreciate all the good things I had to offer my family without so often wrapping it up in my appearance. But I wasn’t there yet. I still tied my self-worth up with my appearance, and that wasn’t good for me in the long run.

The woman in my pictures wasn’t the woman I wanted to be – either appearance wise, or confidence wise. How I long to have those obese years back, and really take the time to appreciate every single good moment I had with my family, instead of experiencing so much self-loathing and unhappiness.

What does your camera reveal about you? Can you go beyond the appearance and appreciate all the good things you have to offer the world? Can pictures of yourself start spurring you into action, getting healthier and more fit, and more able to make a positive impact on your world? What do you think? Diane


  1. says

    I’m not as camera shy as I used to be, but I still have many negative reactions when I look at a photo. My eyes always zoom into that one spot of my body that is bulging out (or many parts that look terrible). It definitely motivates me to change. Like you, I don’t have many good ‘before’ photos because I was so camera shy – or was hiding behind someone. It was both a photo and a number on the scale that made me stop in my tracks and start working to make a change. I’m still waiting for (working towards) the day when I can pose for a picture without worry.
    PlumPetals recently posted…When I CanMy Profile

  2. Carla says

    people a little bit grew annoyed by my monday post—but it was my truth.
    my realization I sometimes accidentally subconsciously lie with my lens.

  3. says

    Thank you for posting this!

    I have a picture of myself that I don’t want anyone to see, yet I keep it, not sure why.

    Even if I’m happy with the way I look now, I definitely don’t always like the pictures! Not very photogenic I guess. The nice thing is with new cameras you can take thousands of pic and keep the one that came out good! LOL
    HappinessSavouredHot recently posted…Ten yearsMy Profile

  4. says

    I have a love/hate relationship with my camera. I love taking pictures of things (I was a professional photographer for a while, after all) but I hate seeing myself. It doesn’t matter if I’m fat or thin, it’s seeing me at all. When my mom got our wedding pictures she was just gushing about what a beautiful bride I was, and I was so excited to see. But it was just a picture of ME and I was so disappointed. I don’t know what I had thought I was going to see, but clearly it was “someone else”. That, unfortunately, hasn’t changed much.

    I do have a few pictures I like where I am in them, but they’re about the situation. One of my favorites is one of my daughter hugging me. I love it because you can tell she loves me. I think I wish I only saw pictures for their visual content, rather than their meaning. A picture of me fat doesn’t spur me to action any more than seeing one of me thin. I see so much more than that, I kind of wish I only saw the image instead. I now make an effort to appear in more pictures with my children, but for a long time the pictures made it seem as if I didn’t exist in the family at all because there is no evidence of me at all save for the fact that someone had to hold the camera!
    Kyra recently posted…Energy CycleMy Profile

  5. says

    I just wrote a post entitled “Why’d I start” and I remember the exact day, April 16, 2013 and I had just gotten back from vacation and was going through photos and I felt fat in EVERY SINGLE ONE. I had a hard time walking and keeping up, I was winded, I had no energy to get active and I knew I needed to change. Crazy that we can look at ourselves daily and not realize what we look like, but see ourselves in a photo and know we need to change.
    Shannon Tatlock recently posted…It’s Award Season in Bloggerland!My Profile

  6. says

    I never think I look or portray what the camera shows.. I do try to look my best when a pic is taken only because I take horrible pics so the ones that are more candid – well… not good! 😉

    I also have lines on my forehead that make me look mad or so people say when I am not mad & my eyes are deep set so people think I am tired when I am not…
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…The Makings of the Best Diet Ever!My Profile

  7. says

    For many years I avoided having my picture taken because of my weight. Because of this I have few pictures of me at my heaviest. I was always the picture taker and that gave me a way out of being “in” the picture. Now, I am happy to have my picture taken since I am at a happy healthy place (notice I did not say perfect) as I am accepting my 50 year old jiggly bits as they are healthy!!!!

  8. Mandy Cat says

    I quietly discarded a photo of me, my husband, his daughter and her husband on their wedding day. (There were other wedding pictures that I didn’t touch, the ones without me in them.)

    I looked like a bulldog in a Dolly Parton wig. I cheaped out when buying my outfit because I didn’t want to spend a lot of money for myself at that weight. What a mistake; I not only looked like a bulldog but a bulldog with poor taste. I can laugh now but the picture was pretty horrific.

  9. says

    Pictures, pictures, pictures. This has been such an issue for me. I’m known in my family as the one who usually takes the pictures since I hate to have mine taken. Then I look back on family occasions and hate that there are no pictures of me! Sometimes I ask someone to take a picture but I almost always hate the ones that are taken. It always is such a shock when I look at them! (I know, I know, what a lot of denial!).
    Kitty recently posted…Doing What WorksMy Profile

  10. L says

    “Pictures, what pictures? We took pictures? Where? Oh, I haven’t seen those in years. They must be in the attic. Sure, we’ll get them down sometime. Maybe tomorrow…”

    That’s how the conversations went in my house.

  11. says

    I was thinking about that today, how taking photographs used to be such a big deal, but now you can take a hundred per minute and view them instantly, and even edit them to perfection on your phone before they hit Facebook – it’s pretty amazing. Another reason taking photos is less of a big deal, is that I am not so bothered about getting my own picture taken anymore – too old to give a crap! But, ah, if it is any consolation, despite the daggy blue shorts, I’d still put that picture in the MILF category – hehe! (just a guy’s thoughts :P)

  12. says

    For me, it was an e-mail from my agent telling me she needs a picture of me. Weight loss on TURBO charge, I swear! I want to look good for booksignings and all that because, you know what? The times in life when we aren’t looking our best, we tend to not allow pictures to be taken. So entire chunks of our lives are photo-less and later, we wish we had photos of those times! Either we need to learn to be happy in the skin we’re in or we need to stay fit…if we feel bad about ourselves, we’re missing a great opportunity to have photos with kids, grandkids, spouses, etc.–and those are photos we’ll cherish later.
    Stephanie Faris recently posted…Another Reason to Be NiceMy Profile

  13. says

    I WISH I had taken pictures of what I looked like last month, just to remind myself of what I never want to see again. I fortunately did take one mid month, but I was in such worse shape by the end of the month and wish I had a picture of that. I took one on the middle of my recovery beginnings and plan to take more along the way, to have just one more memento of what I came from and never want to go back to.
    Pam @ Blueberies and Blessings recently posted…Weighty Wednesdays: Looking Back is Fine, just Keep Moving ForwardMy Profile

  14. Chris says

    Nothing beats the camera to give you the true picture. But hey … if it drives you to do something for the better, I say … Great for you! 😀

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