A little harsh of a title right?
Did it catch your attention? I hope so.
Not gonna lie, I was a little nervous using that as my title but as you guys know, I’m super raw, real, transparent and straightforward so I was like F it, that’s what the title needs to be. I’ll get more in to why I used that as the title in a second (besides the obvious reason).
As some of you may know, I did a photo shoot at the beginning of April ( if you’re more of a visual person and listener, rather than a reader, I did a Facebook Live about it here and you can listen to what I have to say rather than read it).
The photo above is one of the first ones my amazing photographer, Irynna, sent me. She and I met and decided to a do a photo shoot together in a super interesting way actually! We met at a BostonSpeaks Networking event at The Hatch Fenway, a really cool space where there was an indoor swing set. We were both embracing our inner child, having a grand old time swinging back and forth on these swings when we began chatting. Of course we asked each other the stereotypical question, “what do you do for work?” And she told me she was a photographer. I had been thinking about doing a photo shoot for a while but was making up tons of excuses as to why I shouldn’t do one. I told myself I didn’t have the money to spend and also that my body wasn’t ready. Once I lost weight and got my body to a certain point (whatever that point was), then, I told myself, I would do a photo shoot. I didn’t mention either of these things to Irynna at the time. We connected on Instagram and Facebook and that was it.
A few weeks later, I got a message from Irynna saying that she had read my blog and wanted to do a photo shoot for me FOR FREE. Like what?! She loved my story, what I wrote about, and loved photographing people who have stories (of course, everyone has a story, I’m just super open with mine) so she wanted to do that for me. I was like, damn, okay, so my “money” excuse was no longer an issue but my body image, and low self-confidence excuse was still really real. I shared that with Irynna, I told her I did have a desire to do a photo shoot, but that I didn’t commit to one in the past because I didn’t like the way I looked and I was always waiting to change my body and feel beautiful and amazing and confident before I had professional photos of it taken. But now that she had come into my life and offered to do something so amazing and generous for me, my reasoning , stories and excuses sounded RIDICULOUS. Like helloooo Nancy you’re such an advocate for self love, positive body image and being confident no matter what shape and size you are, but you’re not practicing that. So of course I had to do it. For the story, for the experience, for the lessons I would learn and to get out of my comfort zone.
The month leading up to the photo shoot I didn’t really think much about it at all. I didn’t plan, I didn’t go shopping, I didn’t pick out any outfits, I put it on the back burner and forgot about it. As it got closer, the self-doubt, the negative self-talk, and the fear all crept in. I didn’t want to do the photo shoot. I didn’t want to prepare for it, I didn’t want to think about it, I didn’t want to be the center of attention. Thank god we had chosen a date way beforehand when I was in a better mood and I was committing to it. I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity and I knew I needed to get out of my own way.
The night before the photo shoot I was brainstorming what kinds of pictures I wanted to take, cleaning up my apartment and picking out outfits to wear (typical last minute, Nancy-style).
I still wasn’t excited about it.
I don’t know if it was because I felt like I didn’t deserve to do a photo shoot and/or if what my body looked like was still bothering me (I’m sure it was), but I couldn’t shake it. It’s so crazy to think about my mindset and thoughts through the entire process because you would think I would be so excited, pumped and grateful to have the opportunity to do a free photo shoot and I hate to admit it but I really wasn’t.
I still went through the motions of putting everything together that I needed to. My intention was to show “a day in the life of Nancy”, focus on my lifestyle and things I do every single day. Looking back I of course wish I had prepared more but I’m not regretting any piece of it because what’s the point?
The big day came, I woke up early, showered, did my morning ritual and put my makeup on. We had the most perfect, beautiful day, which was amazing considering I wanted to take pictures outside as well. Irynna was so fun and absolutely incredible to work with. She let me have full control over what I wanted to do (which was a little difficult for me since I didn’t know exactly what I wanted) but it was a great combination of her photography expertise and help and my thoughts and ideas I had for the shoot.
Even for someone as open as I am, it was a little uncomfortable having someone come in to my home and take pictures of me in my element. Looking at the photos we took in the apartment I’m like, “Ugh it still looks messy or weird.” But that’s the beauty of it I guess and that’s also what I was trying to show.
Just like you don’t have to have the perfect body to take photos of it, you don’t have to have the perfect, prettiest, and cleanest apartment to take pictures in it.
Okay now back to why I titled this post, “Hey I’m Nancy and I have a double chin.” Like I said earlier, this photo was one of the first ones Irynna sent to me because she said it was one of her favorites.
When she first sent it to me, I looked at it for a second, thought to myself, “Omg this is a great photo, my hair looks good, I like that it’s a candid and that I’m smiling” and then my eyes went straight to my chin. “Oh my god I have a double chin” was the next thought in my mind. “I can never post this picture because I don’t want anyone to see that” came next.
Oh the irony of those thoughts as I now publicly highlight what I at first wanted to hide.
Sharing my thoughts and feelings around this picture and my photo shoot in general allows me to take my power back from them.
Irynna sent me this picture for a reason, I know she wasn’t thinking about my double chin, she was noticing the joy and beauty in my eyes and smile. So why was my double chin the only thing I could focus on?
Because we are so much more critical of ourselves than other people are. Because despite all of the work I do on myself, I still am, and will always still be, on this journey to total self love, acceptance, and confidence. It is a practice and skill I am building each and every single day. But the negative thoughts and focus still creep in on the daily.
No lie, a part of me is highlighting my double chin in this photo so no one could say it about me behind my back because I’ve already talked about it.
I’m now looking at this photo with loving and kind eyes. My new and improved thoughts are, “Yes, in fact, I do have a double chin in this photo but if anyone was looking down in this way, they would also have a double chin” (not sure if this is true, but I’m totally going with it). I’m also looking at this photo as if it wasn’t me. If this was anyone else in this picture, I would love it and only give them love and compliments about it, so now that’s what I’m doing to myself. Just like Irynna was when she sent it to me, I’m focusing on the joy in my eyes and smile and all of the things I like about myself in the photo.
I would like to think that because my body isn’t toned and in amazing shape and that I have excess fat on my body and in my face, that this makes it more relatable and real for other people.
Because the core reason I was doing this photo shoot was to show others that it doesn’t matter what your body looks like, if you want to do a photo shoot, do it. You don’t have to be a certain weight or wear a certain pants size in order to be able to have professional pictures of yourself taken. You don’t need to wait until you’ve had a weight loss transformation. You are worthy NOW. You deserve to be the center of attention. You deserve to splurge on yourself. You are beautiful exactly as you are, double chin and all.
Like I said earlier, these thoughts, affirmations and beliefs do not come overnight. It is a daily choice. A choice to think this way and see myself this way. It takes practice, repetition, constant check ins, reminders and a lot of work. But it is so worth it because feeling confident, amazing and beautiful is worth it. And a much better way to go through life.
So, when’s your photo shoot? I look forward to seeing your pictures in the future 🙂