Unless you practice in front of a mirror… often… you probably don’t love getting your picture taken. Getting your picture taken is hard! I’ve always had the suspicion that if our insecurities can be exposed that quickly then the Lord could come in just as quickly to heal them.
I got the best email from this girl and she’s being brave and strong to share it with you today, so read carefully and enjoy all the sweetness dripping from her letter.
“My name is Lark Reely, and I am the model in a recent set of pictures that my wonderful
friend Becky Rice took. When Becky asked me to model for these pictures, I cringed. Haha.
There is something about having a camera pointed on me that makes me feel like the derpiest
person in the world. In my head I start reciting my laundry list of reasons why I shouldn’t be
photographed – especially in light of the past few months.
This is hard to admit, but I have gained a significant amount of weight since October.
Also hard to admit, but I have also struggled with my self-image since I was about 12 years-old.
With the rise of social media, I grew up using photographs of myself as platforms for myself and
others to analyze, then attribute worth to. This grew into a huge identity problem. I would
measure myself by how I looked in pictures. I would see particularly unflattering pictures of
myself have an identity crisis. I’m 23 now, and things have gotten much better. But I can still
be as fickle about my appearance as I was when I used Xanga and my mirror was covered in
holographic arcade stickers. This all goes to say that I was very scared to take these pictures.
I took the pictures that day and did my best not to sweat through my shirt and/or cry.
Despite my best efforts, Becky and my good friend Rachel Skrovina, helped me feel
comfortable. I ended up having a blast, actually. I wanted to keep it at that though, because I
knew the pictures would just remind me and whoever saw them that I had gained weight. I got
the link to the pictures about a week later and thought about just deleting it, lol. But instead I
just took a deep breath and began to look through them. THEN LOST MY MIIIIND. Those
pictures are so beautiful. I was speechless, because even though I could see I had indeed gained
weight, I also could see that I was beautiful independent of that fact.
The pictures caught me off guard for another reason though – It’s like they were familiar
to me. After a few days went by I realized why they seemed recognizable. I remembered a
time I was praying after a pretty vulnerable conversation about my self-image deficit. I didn’t
really have much to say to God, so I just kind of sat and waited. As my eyes were closed I
imagined a distinct picture of myself, one that I had never seen previously. Then, without
trying, I imagined 10 more pictures – all of myself but at different ages and weights,
old/young/skinny/chubby/pregnant/makeup/no makeup/all of the above. It was like I was
looking at someone else that was flawless and stunning, even with a double chin. In that
moment I was able to see myself as lovely through all ages and situations, and I objectively
recognized that my beauty truly was radiant from the inside out. That was a huge moment for
me, because I finally had assurance that I really was beautiful. The sad thing was that I began to
doubt that identity like that next day.
The pictures that Becky took of me captured that same radiance that was outside of my
clothes, weight, hair, and make up that I saw in that intimate moment of prayer and forgot the
next day. Although my identity is not wrapped up in these pictures, these pictures can be a
sweet reminder that what’s inside me is lovely and pure and doesn’t deviate like what’s on the
outside of me.”
So, if you think about it, yes, getting your picture taken is hard. But it can be so rewarding. Surprisingly rewarding. Thank you Lark, you are speaking the words that many of us feel. Thank you for flexing your brave.