Photo Phobia

Is it a girl thing or a darkness thing?

Or both?

Before I opened my eyes this morning the heaviness attacked. The insecurities. The “less-thans.”


Because I had an appointment for a professional head shot.

All this angst over a picture?!?!

I don’t even mind being in front of a camera. Flashing my smile comes naturally.

But I almost cancelled.

Tears threatened. Voices assaulted from inside myself.

Look at those bags beneath your eyes. Make-up is not going to cover them.

You don’t have the right clothes. In fact, you never do. Even if you had lots of money to spend on them you wouldn’t know good taste.

And then I did something really smart.

I got on the scale. To torture myself, I guess. I knew I’d put on a little weight with all the hospital stays, grief, and inactivity of the last couple of months. I knew this and have been combating it. Walking again. Backing off the high calorie food (well, except for at the graduation party this weekend). So why, this particular morning, did I find it important to ascertain the exact number on the scale?

You’ve gained a few pounds. It’s going to show.

Wasn’t this picture supposed to be about the new, slimmer you?

How are you going to smile when you feel this way? It is a wasted effort.

I  would have chickened out except for one thing.

The photo session was a gift. A friend of mine encouraged the studio where she works to offer a free professional head shot in recognition of my weight loss so I could update my website.

How could I run from such generosity?

“Honey,” I told my husband. “I’m in one of those moods. If I talk to you about it you’re going to be frustrated, and it won’t be helpful, so this is me NOT talking about it. But would you please pray for me?”

“Is this about clothes for the picture?” His words trailed away as I stomped off, leaving him to take up my ridiculous attitude with God.

(My dear hubby likes to solve problems, and frankly when a girl feels fat and ugly and like she has no classy clothes a man can’t fix that.)

I cried to God above for mercy from my girl self. Emailed my closest praying friends and admitted my nasty girl moment. Asked them to pray that God’s joy would shine from me in those pictures even though I wanted to stay home, curl up, and cry.

I felt bloated and ugly and insecure and teary. I’d blame it on the monthly only I *think* I’m past all that at the ripe age of 48.

I grabbed my Body Balance and then my metabolism booster. Had some protein and a cup of coffee. Climbed into a hot shower.

The prayer and the water washed over me, and the darkness began to lift.

I put on eye shadow thinking I should have someone teach me how to properly apply it. Thinking I should have done this picture thing when my talented daughter with the cosmetology license was off work to make sure I looked right. Temptation to return to my inadequacy diatribe beckoned.

But I’d determined not to flake out, so instead I pulled out the mascara, dried my hair, and picked out my jewelry.

As I kissed my hubby good-bye he grabbed my hands and slowed my exit. “You. Are. Absolutely Stunning.”

Maybe husbands can help fix this dark girl stuff. Not forever silence it, but help.

I climbed into the car wondering where all the angst came from. Was it as simple as being a woman? Did it go back to the years of obesity? The lean years when I couldn’t buy new clothes?

Or was it deeper and more insidious?

Flipping radio stations between Christian music and the country stations, I sought positive input. It was  a love song from a country band that further shook me from my insecurities. Like God was asking me to receive those words from Him–romantic, loving words that said I was beautiful, important, and worth His notice.

I breathed deep of that idea.

Remembered HE made me. And I’d been dissing His handiwork.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made. That’s what you said, God. Thank you for making me. That You think I’m beautiful.”

When I finally pulled into the parking lot of the studio 45 minutes later I felt almost myself. No more lurking tears and only a touch of all that insecurity.

The session was actually fun. The photographers didn’t turn a critical eye to my clothing choices, just sweetly helped me make the best decisions. They pulled out that huge camera with the long lens and said things like:


You’re a natural!

You’ve got that joy thing going.

Love that smile.

You look great!

I told the ladies it would be cool if they’d just follow me around every day saying those things to me.

They laughed. I did, too.

But what if?

What if every time the darkness said I was ugly, fat, inadequate and without taste I’d said back, “I’m beautiful! I look great. Love my smile! I’m a natural!”


Why do we women find it so easy to be critical and so hard to be good to ourselves?

Why can’t we just embrace the beauty within?

Why can’t we simply believe in it? In ourselves?

Until Next Time,

moldenhauer signature3


PS I started writing this yesterday but didn’t get it posted. Today I wonder what was so hard. The happy ending is that the pictures turned out great. I’ll post the two shots I chose when the final photos come in a few weeks. All that angst . . . for what?


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10 thoughts on “Photo Phobia

  1. Rebekah May 22, 2014 at 3:09 am Reply

    I think it is something women will always struggle with. I know I am so self-conscious about what pictures end up on FB, etc. I delete picture after picture of myself. I do think some people are just naturally photogenic though. But yes, all the angst for nothing.

    • Paula Moldenhauer May 22, 2014 at 3:50 am Reply

      There have been many fb shots I wanted to delete, but I gave up on that (for the most part). But I get it. I do think some people are naturally photogenic, but some of those I think are photogenic have the same insecurities of anyone else. And sometimes those who seem to be always look so great are the most self-critical. We women are strange creatures, I think.

      • Paula Moldenhauer May 22, 2014 at 4:17 am

        Oh, And, Rebekah, I’ve seen your gorgeous face on your blog. You ARE one of the PHOTOGENIC ones!!

  2. Sheila Stacy May 22, 2014 at 4:14 am Reply

    I’m soo glad you posted this, helps me too. :0)

    • Paula Moldenhauer May 22, 2014 at 4:18 am Reply

      Sometimes I think that is what life is about. Being real enough that we no longer feel alone–and that others don’t either . . . I was such a mess yesterday morning!

  3. Cynthia May 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm Reply

    This is just what I needed to hear today. Thank you for your honest sharing.

    • Paula Moldenhauer May 22, 2014 at 5:52 pm Reply

      So glad, Cynthia! I love it when something good comes out of my struggles! It helps me stay vulnerable to know that.

  4. mariekeates May 23, 2014 at 7:25 am Reply

    I’ve been having a few days like that too Paula. Three months of not working and being sad about my lot and way too many snacks.

    • Paula Moldenhauer May 23, 2014 at 3:04 pm Reply

      I’m sorry, Marie. Job loss really does take it out of a person, not only the sadness of the transition, the stress of the loss of income, but also the change in routine when it come to food. Maybe we can cheer each other on to maintain our hard-earned health and nip this thing in the bud! Hugs to you my friend.

  5. […] my post a while back about totally freaking out that I had a photo shoot? That I almost canceled because I felt so insecure about everything: how I looked, the few pounds […]

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