I've only kept pictures of myself from thin years. If you saw my photo albums, you'd think i was always slim. Not true, as i fluctuated between 90 and 190 pounds throughout my life.
I didn't keep "fat" pictures, because they just reminded me how miserable and lonely i was and how much i hated myself for being so overweight. all i'd see was pain when i'd look at those photos. So, I never had any pictures of me in my teens or late 20s or even my early 40s, when my mother died, i quit smoking crack, ended 30 years of bulimia and gained a lot of weight.
Now, at 5'6 and 48, I'm a healthy 130 - 135, but when the scale starts to inch up, I think of those pictures i never kept and remind myself how very "ugly" i was during those years.
Recently, my sister found old photos of me in her basement and many of them were from the "big" years. it took me a while to want to look at them, but then i did look.
most of my life, i believed with all my heart that the most important piece of information about me was, simply, my weight. EVERYTHING relied on that number on the scale and when it was up, there simply could not be happiness.
So i looked at pictures of me at my sweet sixteen where was one of my heaviest weights AND i was having a really bad hair day.
My mother looked wonderful in all the pictures, she was slim and happily dating and feeling particularly good about herself.
I felt badly for my mother that she had such a fat, unpopular and depressed daughter. My sister was always pretty and popular, with lots of friends and boyfriends. i had neither.
I didn't smile much in my teens, but i did find one happy summer at an acting camp, where i made my first friends and enjoyed myself. yes, i was pretty heavy BUT on closer inspection through today's kinder eyes, i looked....fine. AND i was smiling. i looked happier and freer.
My mom was in those pictures too, on visiting day, and she looked thin (so important to me back then) and happy and beautiful. when i see those pictures now, i see how very much i looked like her.
there is a series of photos with my sister that stay with me. (since i was little, i was a round little thing and my sister was always naturally skinny. there are photos of us through the years, skinny sis and chunky me.)
in these particular photos i'm a baby , my petite little sister is holding me tight in her arms. i've always cringed at these photos, seeing myself as a fat and ugly baby and comparing myself to my tiny little sis. i always felt guilty that i must be so heavy for her to hold and wish she has a prettier baby girl to play with.
(i also used to get pretty mad at my mom for over-feeding me so, but that's passed. i know she did her best with raising all of us and, besides, and this was 48 years ago.)
what i always missed when i looked at these pictures was my sister's expression -- she's glowing with pride and joy at her little sister. she is clearly so in love with me and so delighted to show me off to the world.
i never noticed look on her face before, because i was so ashamed of being a fat baby and because i assumed i couldn't be loveable and i was too busy worrying about myself to see my sister.
but i do see that look now.