The Very Real Reason I Don’t Share Photos of Myself Online

Aug 7

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A few times of year I sit down and write a post that makes me uncomfortable. In the past I’ve talked about surviving divorce and about how I never wanted to be a mom. Sharing in that way is always liberating, but also really frightening, which I guess is a good segue for admitting that writing this post scares me. Today I am writing a post called, “The Very Real Reason I Don’t Share Photos of Myself Online” and I’m opening that post with a photo of myself. In a word, I am terrified. Over the last nearly ten years I’ve built a brand and a business online, and I’ve done so in a way that puts nearly all of the focus on the work I’m doing and the things I’m creating, and very intentionally not on myself. As much as I cherish my relationships with my readers, I’ve also been completely freaked out by the idea of making myself and my face the center of attention in any way shape or form. And the reason is simple. I don’t look like a lot of bloggers do. I am not perfectly thin, and petite and cute, and no clothing brands are going to want to send me their fall collection to feature on my Instagram feed. Ten years ago I lost over 100 pounds and after maintaining it for a few years, I’ve gained much of that weight back. I judge myself every single day for that and I think that part of me is always afraid that you’ll judge me for that, too. I don’t share photos of myself online, because I’m not skinny. And even though I truly, authentically love who I am on the inside, I can’t get past the fact that for me, the two images of who I am (the one I see in my head and the one everyone else sees) simply do not align.

The Sweetest Occasion | Party recipes, entertaining ideas, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

This post is not a post about weight loss. I have every intention in the world of getting back to the weight and size that made me feel most alive and most joyful. I hope someday I get there. I don’t intend to ever stop trying. But in the meantime, this post is about getting real. I read endless articles about body empowerment and self acceptance, about loving ourselves and feeling worthy. I would spew endless rhetoric about the same to any of you if you were down on yourself about your weight. You are beautiful, you are loved, you are valued, you are you. And I would believe every single word. The problem is, I don’t actually feel a lot of those things for myself, and for whatever reason I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I should share that truth with you. There are few things in life I’m as passionate about as my career, and over the last couple of years I’ve come to the mounting realization that I am holding myself back professionally because I am too afraid to flip around to the other side of the camera. Because I’m afraid people will realize I’m not thin and they’ll judge me or think differently of me and so I stay hidden away. On so many levels, I am confident and secure. At times I’m even outright proud of the work I produce, the content I create and the business I’ve built from the ground up. I also know that I’m a kick ass mom, spouse, sister, daughter, cousin and friend. Like, really really kick ass. But somehow, I still don’t feel quite as worthy as everyone else around me, because I don’t feel cute. And that might just be the saddest thing I’ve ever admitted to myself, let alone to the internet at large. The reality, though, is that in my industry, most of the bloggers you see are attractive. Like, really really attractive. And because many of them are actually my friends, I can tell you that they’re also really wonderful, caring people in real life, too. So, being me? Living in this body? It feels so incredibly isolating.

The Sweetest Occasion | Party recipes, entertaining ideas, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

I imagine this is the part of this post where I should confess that I am crying as I type these words. I’m not even quite sure why. Probably in part because of fear, but also largely in relief. For too long I’ve held myself back from the things I’ve really wanted in life, both personally and professionally, because I have this huge mental and emotional block surrounding my weight. I think the tipping point for me was last week, when a giant film crew spent two days at my house and I realized I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to look at the photos or watch the videos we spent countless hours creating, because I didn’t think I’d be able to bear to look at myself. Even knowing how thrilled the client was with my work and that they were ecstatic with what I was doing on screen, I still felt like a complete and total fraud. Because I don’t look the part. And that breaks my heart. No one should feel that way, especially on a day when they hit a grand slam in every sense professionally, and I hate that I do.

The Sweetest Occasion | Party recipes, entertaining ideas, cocktail recipes and more from @cydconverse

I am not sure how all of this plays out, but somehow the last couple of weeks have changed my outlook on life a little bit. It has made me determined to put myself out there, no matter how scary it is. To not limit myself before I even try to achieve something because I’m already pre-judging myself based on how I look. It would kill me if my daughter ever judged herself the way that I judge myself every single day, and I want to be a strong and confident role model for her so that she feels empowered to grow into the kick ass little girl and woman I already fully know she is going to be. So in part, I had to write this post as a way of drawing a line in the sand. There was before. And now there is now. The now where I am going to try really hard to sort through all of my complicated emotions on all of these things and actually grow to believe that I am worthy, no matter what size the tag says in my jeans. And if nothing else, I hope perhaps this post will resonate with even one person who feels the same way I do. I hope it brings some realness to all of the picture perfect photos and Instagram Stories and carefully edited videos we watch every day. I hope it reminds you that we only have this one precious life and we can’t stop living it, because we’re afraid we don’t live up to the internet’s standards of beauty and perfection. I promise that from now on, I am fighting every day to live my truth, right out loud and in the open, and I hope you promise yourself the same.

 

[Photos by Alice G. Patterson.]

70 thoughts on “The Very Real Reason I Don’t Share Photos of Myself Online”

  1. You are so beautiful and so talented and I for one would love to see more pictures of you on this site. Thanks for sharing Cyd.

    1. Thanks, Jen! That means the world to me. I am going to try really hard to get myself out there more. I appreciate your love and support so very very much!

  2. I’ve followed your blog from the *very* early days, and I just wanted to share that you are one of the most inspirational and talented people I’ve seen on the internet and those two things have absolutely nothing to do with your jean size. You’re an amazing person and you have been one of (if not my most favorite) blogger, mainly because when you do post about your personal life you keep it real, which is so refreshingly wonderful. Please don’t ever feel like you are unworthy of sharing yourself. Society puts wayyyy too much pressure on bloggers for their appearance, when the reality is, it has not one damn thing to do with their talents. So to heck with any haters… you are a beautiful person, inside and out, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this. I for one will still be a follower no mater what ? Thank you so much for your candid post and hugs to you!!

  3. I am new to your blog – in fact, the past couple of weeks is the first time I have been on the blog. And I want you to know that I saw your photos before I read the post – and the first thing that came to my mind? “Oh, look at how pretty she is! I love her top – and it looks so cute with the jeans. And what a pretty smile (pic with flowers)” I wanted you to know that the first thing I saw was a pretty woman in an adorable outfit with a beautiful smile. We are all so hard on ourselves – and I wish we could see ourselves through anothers’ eyes. Thank you for your beautiful post!

    1. RL – goodness gracious, THANK YOU! I don’t know how else to show my appreciation for your sweet words and your support. I am so glad you found the blog and I am even happier to have you chime in. We are so insanely hard on ourselves it’s ridiculous and sad, but we ALL do it to ourselves….even as we tell other women we love to stop doing it to themselves. I wish I knew how to break the cycle, but all the love being shared today gives me so much hope! XOXO

  4. This is my first ever comment on a blog post. I am so moved by your courage and vulnerability! Brava. Cheering you on!

    1. Oh, Melanie, thank you so so much! Your comment means more than you’ll ever know and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time out of your day to lend your support. XOXO

  5. I love this (and you!) so much! I’ve struggled with many similar feelings over the years. It’s so sad that we hold ourselves back from doing things NOW in the hopes of “someday” being better/more experienced/more ready/thinner/whatever.

    We should all love ourselves a little more, show ourselves more grace, and give ourselves permission to be great and amazing and awesome, right where we are, right this minute. Cheers to this new outlook! ?

    1. Jess, why is it so damn HARD?! We have these weird lives where we’re expected to be plugged in and online all the time, and then we can’t even feel comfortable showing our own faces. It’s really just absurd. And you’re right. The idea of waiting for “someday” is such a fallacy, because all it’s doing is wasting time when we should be living the width of our lives and not just the length of them. I’m hoping this dialogue happening today really does make us feel a little braver so we can do just that! XOXOXOXO

  6. So courageous of you to share this! I often feel the same way about sharing photos of myself, and always struggle with weight. I just got married a couple months ago, and was afraid to even look at our wedding photos. The society we live in often says that we should “love ourselves,” but also shames anyone who is above a size 2, for being “unhealthy.”

    You are beautiful, on the inside and out! This post helps offset the many judgy messages out there. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Oh, Maria, I understand entirely! We are getting married in two months, I’m so in love with the work of our photographer and I’m already terrified that I’ll hate every photo of me. ON OUR WEDDING DAY. I don’t know how to solve this problem in two months, but I am going to try and find a way. All I want is to live in that moment on that day and feel alive and loved, I don’t want to be worried about the damn photos. Ugh. At any rate, thank you for chiming in! I am so glad you are not alone in this, although I wish neither of us felt this way. Huge hugs to you! xoxoxo

  7. Thank you for sharing and being bold!! What truly makes a successful blog post in my opinion is when you can tell the person behind the nice words and pretty pictures wholeheartedly loves what they do, what they create, and what they are sharing with their readers and I think you are spot on with that!

    1. Thank you, Allie! That is such a tremendous compliment because I do genuinely love what I do and hope that people find it inspiring in even the smallest of ways. I am going to work harder to be even more real and more open, and I hope it’s an added dimension that everyone will love as they visit the site and look to take something away from it back to their everyday life. XOXO

  8. “fighting every day to live my truth, right out loud and in the open, and I hope you promise yourself the same.” You are amazing. Not only at your bravery and honesty in this post – but you are an amazing business woman. Amazing in creating compelling and original content. Amazing at sharing your experiences with friends and colleges. I applaud you for not only writing this post, but sharing the beautiful pictures! You are a rock star!!! xoxoxox

    1. Oh Sara, thank you so so much, friend! I am feeling so humbled by the response to this post, which I suppose is a good indication that it needed to be written. I don’t know why as humans, but particularly as women it seems, we judge ourselves so sternly and hold ourselves so strictly to nearly impossible standards. I don’t know why being confident in myself as a professional, a mother and a partner isn’t enough. I wish I had the answers, I truly do. But I’m grateful to be surrounded by amazingly supportive women like you while I sort it out! xoxoxo

  9. This post hit home in so many ways. Most of us ladies who dont fit that ideal picture of what we should look like, makes things very difficult. You did an amazing job writing this post. I feel the exact same way and have for almost all of my life. You are an amazing woman. I am honored to call you my friend xoxo

    1. Amanda, I’m so glad this speaks to you! I’m sad that so many of us relate to these feelings, but I’m grateful that we aren’t alone in feeling them. Thanks for the comment, my sweet friend! Sending loads of love! XOXOXO

  10. In more than a dozen years of blog reading, this is one of the most impactful posts I’ve ever been lucky enough to read and it resonates so, so much.
    Why do we do this to ourselves? And what is it going to take for us to stop?
    I teach Gender Studies at a couple local colleges and my student’s final project this past spring examined our use of media and its effects. We basically ended the presentations sitting together in the classroom with the word, “why????” hanging in the air.
    We lose so much of ourselves to our worries about who we are in comparison to who we think the world tells us we should be.
    I’ll stop there, because I could go on and on.
    Thank you again for being willing to share every aspect of your beauty.

    1. Nora, “whhhhy?!” is right! I feel like so many of us feel this way and just the stereotypes and pressures persist. We all hold high that ideal, even knowing it’s almost entirely unobtainable. I don’t know exactly why the timing felt right for this post, but I’m so glad that it is resonating with people. I want my blog to be a place where people feel safe, loved and encouraged to create more meaningful relationships and memories with the people they cherish. Come as you are, a full and happy life awaits you no matter your work in progress. Thank you for the support! xoxoxo

    1. Thank you so much, Rhi! I am trying. I really, truly am. I think it will be a long journey, but a worthy one!

  11. I know this was a difficult post to share, but I’m happy that you did!. I’ve struggled with my weight for too many years and I know exactly what you mean about judging yourself. I’m glad that you sharing your gorgeous smile!

    1. Self doubt is just the worst! Thank you, Beth, for always being such an unconditional supporter of everything I do. I hope I could succeed in making others feel a little less alone today and if I accomplished that, then this was all a big win for me.

  12. You are amazing for sharing this. I can only begin to imagine how vulnerable you must feel but your courage is so inspiring.
    Thanks for sharing with us and trusting us.

    1. Ugh I’m not ever felt so vulnerable, Amanda, but I am also so grateful I could crack open this door and start this dialogue. Thank you so so much for your support!

  13. Thanks for sharing this – I really needed to hear it! And by the way you are absolutely beautiful! Please be in more pictures – and you totally do look the part – you are beautiful and stylish and you look so happy in these photos that’s what people love to see. But I really can relate so much – I struggle with being in photos for so many reasons. I think part of it is that we’re always styling and over analyzing photos and then when we’re actually in them ourselves it’s hard not to be over critical. I also feel really self conscious like I’m not being real or something? But again thanks for sharing Cyd!!

    1. I think you are so very right, Rachel! It’s the nature of our business to scrutinize and perfect and adjust and perfect again, and it’s just not as easy to do when it comes to ourselves. I always say that we’re all always our own worst critics, but somehow I can’t make myself believe it when it comes to me. How crazy is that?! Thank you for being so supportive. I am so grateful to have amazing friends alongside me on this ride! xoxoxox

  14. I understand exactly what you say and I feel the same, this insecurity is stopping a lot of people on doing great things and I hate it! I am not thin, I am not young, I am not hip or cool, I don’t have a cute little nose, and I am not strong enough to share myself and not just my work. In an online world made of perfection there are a lot of real people struggling. Your insecurities are the same as so many others. We should all join forces and support each other. Let’s make normal the new cool?

    1. I LOVE this, Laura! Normal should be the new cool. I am fully, 100% on board! I promise to try and do my part to keep being real and keep putting myself out there. I never ever judge others for how they look and truly find most people I know to be exceptionally beautiful. Why can’t I see that in myself? I am happy to do whatever I can to build others up, thank you so much for your words. XOXOXO

  15. Thank you for sharing. It was very brave and honest. After leaving an abusive marriage years ago where there was lots of attention on the number on the scale (when I was on it), I find myself in this next chapter with a debilitating auto-immune disease. The pain, chronic fatigue, side affects of medications, and inflammation leave me overweight. I’m fortunate to be married to the most supportive guy I’ve ever met-he believes me, thinks I’m hot, and takes amazing care of me. And the weight nags me all the time. I’m a photographer and rarely in photos. It makes me sad to not be in them, but more sad when I see the ones I’m actually in! Thank you for starting this conversation and for the reminder that one doesn’t have to be thin for the photo or the person to be valuable.

    1. Beth, thank you so much for sharing! I am humbled to have been open up this conversation. My soon-to-be husband is much the same – my cheerleader in every imaginable way no matter the pounds I am carrying around or losing along the way. To know that love is so rich and fulfilling, I hope this can be a reminder to both of us that we need to love ourselves just as unconditionally. Sending so many hugs your way! xoxoxo

    1. Thank you, friend! It means so much more than I can even put into words. Apparently I’ve set myself up for a whole day of feeling weepy. Love you! xoxoxo

  16. I know how u feel and I felt that way for years. I had gastric by pass and still consider myself fat. I don’t like my picture taken even now because what u see and what I see r two different things. I will always see myself fat no matter how much weight I lose. U r right many people judge u on the way u look and they don’t see the real u or give u a chance. Everyone has faults even skinny people so they should not judge other people. In reality people judge people to make them feel better about themselves because they have flaws too. U are beautiful the way u r so don’t worry about what others think. I know that is hard to do because I do it everyday worry about how other people see me. I don’t let anyone take my picture very often and probably never will because I see the flaws I have. Don’t let what everyone thinks affect u live ur life. Because u treat Bayleigh like a step child amazes me there r not many people that would do that. Bay is special and has had a lot to deal with in the past few months and I thank u for being there for her. So all that said you r a wonderful person and I know these kids lobe u

    1. Thank you, Darla! It means so much. And I know exactly what you mean. When I’d lost 110lbs I still always saw myself as my heaviest self, and I think that’s actually a huge reason WHY I’ve gained so much of it back. I still didn’t believe I was skinny enough or good enough, even when I was literally a fraction of my former size. The pressure we put on ourselves is unreal and unfair. You look AMAZING and are such an inspiration! xoxoxo

  17. Beautifully written and so courageous of you to face your fears and share your struggle with others. You go girl!!!

  18. I feel you lady! I struggle with this constantly. Customers and bloggers come into my shop on a daily basis wanting to take photos of me creating and I always politely decline and encourage them to take shots of the store I worked so hard to make look amazing. But I’m trying so hard to be more visible. I built my business on my own and as a fat person, (a word/label I purposefully use) I owe it to other fat people to show that we do some pretty cool and amazing stuff in the creative world too. Who decided what “the part” looked like? Time to smash those barriers down.

    1. Michelle, thank you SO much for chiming in! The struggle is so so real. But you could not be more right! Who the hell decided that only perfectly pretty skinny gils are worthy or talented or capable of adding value? Intellectually, I know all of this. It’s just a little harder getting the heart to fall in line with what the brain already knows. Also, your work is stunning! You should be incredibly proud. I always say I’m coming back as a florist in my next life! Or in my next career, whichever comes first. ;-) XOXOXO

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