"Can you make me thin?"

Content warnings: mentioning of dieting, body image issues, disordered eating.

I’ve been asked this seriously before, but heard it pretty often as a “joke” people make about themselves. It’s hard to respond to these kinds of questions or comments since they are very intimate, emotional, and personal. As a really fat person in recovery from disordered eating, hearing the awful things people both believe and say out loud about themselves can be very painful to hear - in a well-then-they’re-def-hating-me way and also in a my-heart-hurts-for-them kind of way.

The main reason actually has nothing to do with my pursuit and promotion of body liberation. I want everyone to feel good looking at photos of themselves. There have been a few times I’ve edited photos a lot after clients requested - and they hated it because it didn’t look like them! If a photographer makes you look very different than you’re used to, you won’t recognize you in the photo. Dramatic angle techniques or editing to change your body size or shape will look unnatural and unfamiliar. It falls into a very awkward, personal version of the Uncanny Valley.

Your friends and loved ones will notice this, too, and even if weight loss is your personal jam, imagine having to explain that it’s an altered photo if people ask about it (when I was deep in disordered eating, this would have killed me). The people who love you already know what you look like and want to see the best You that you are right now. Family and friends will look back lovingly on who you were at that moment in time - especially kids, if you have them. Think about looking at photos of your own family and friends. I’d make a guess you feel excited remembering who they were then!

It’s important to communicate with your photographer before and during your session about what you feel comfortable with and what you don’t.

If you know you’re in a place where you can’t handle seeing something about your body, tell the photographer to please avoid it in pictures. It’s totally cool to request having pimples touched up digitally! It’s healthy to set boundaries for yourself and your professional hype person!

Speaking of, a photographer should never make you feel badly about yourself. The way they speak with you should help you feel confident and assured that you’re looking amazing. Photography can be a really intimate thing - you’ve hired someone to meet you and reveal something special about you in a short period of time. Check their social media presence and see how they talk to people. If it gives you any uglybugly yucky feels, hightail it. You deserve a professional that makes you feel great!