GUIZERIX: Erasing versus embracing our imperfections, a lesson for my daughter

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Over the weekend, my family and I took the rare opportunity to visit Orange Beach, Ala.

I’d been looking forward to the trip for a month, a chance for my daughter to make memories with both sets of her grandparents. In the interest of having plenty of photographic evidence with which to embarrass her when she’s a pre-teen (and simply because she’s too little to protest), I’d planned out “Mommy and Me” outfits for each day, from matching bathing suits to color-coordinating family attire for waterfront dinners.

When the weekend was over, however, I didn’t have a single polished, curated photo of my little family. A couple of years ago, this realization would have left me upset. But truthfully, the lack of “perfect” pictures is a sign of a good time.

For years, I used smartphone apps like FaceTune to alter photos of myself — make my teeth whiter, my face slimmer, rid my arms or midsection or thighs of any dimple or blemish I deemed unworthy.

Then, I became a mother, with a little girl who looks just like me. All the physical features I didn’t like about myself, I love on her.

Don’t get me wrong — the postpartum period hit me hard and still impacts my body image and self-confidence. I dreaded putting a swimsuit on a body that still doesn’t feel like my own. But, like many other parts of motherhood, it’s no longer about me.

After meditating on the concept of erasing versus embracing imperfections, I realized, 20 or 30 years from now, my daughter isn’t going to look back on pictures and say, “Wow, mom’s thighs look huge,” or “Her hair looks so frizzy here,” or “Wow, look at her stomach in that bathing suit.”

What she’ll see when she looks at our pictures is a happy mother promoting positive body image — a mother who, hopefully, sets an example and teaches her that she’s beautiful without a filter that drastically alters her appearance.

The photos I’m most fond of from our vacation are not the ones I attempted (in vain) to pose and polish. They’re the ones where my baby is toddling through the sand in an old onesie with crooked little spriggly pigtails and her tongue sticking out because she’s trying so hard to follow her daddy to the shoreline.

It’s the photo of me standing in the surf, gazing at her while she absorbs the world around her, with no regard to the way my legs look or my double chin.

The real world isn’t the way it appears on Instagram or Facebook. We’re not always smiling happy people with photo-ready experiences planned every day. And if we were, think how boring life would be.