You’ve Got To Hide Your Lard Away

I had this brainwave to make a wee photo album for my sister of all travels. We came to Scotland together in 2003 on a working holiday visa, where the idea is to work work work then see as much of Europe as you can before your visa and/or money runs out.

I poked through a gazillion folders trying to find pictures of us in front of famous landmarks but it was slim pickings, folks. Take the first ever trip we did, a long weekend in Paris. I was so excited to finally be off the couch and seeing the world, but wasn't bold enough to want photographic evidence of this newfound adventurousness. Every time I got the camera out I'd think, My hair sucks. I need a new bra. My head is enormous. My body is revolting. And it was hot and my face was red so I told myself, I'll just come back here some day when I'm smaller and better dressed.

So all I have are a few dodgy shots with my noggin lurking in a corner.


Even as I lost more weight I still kept hiding. On the rare occasions I let Rhiannon take my picture, I'd bark orders, "Make sure I'm just in the corner! Don't go below the waist! Actually, don't go below the chin!" Or I'd try to hide my body behind statues or trees or sunglasses or hats.

We went on a tour of Russia and Scandinavia in 2004 and I nearly keeled over from Photophobia. Every seven seconds in front of another church or museum someone would shout, "GROUP SHOT!" I'd fight my way to the back row and hide behind the tallest bloke. So despite having been desperate to see Russia my whole life, I only have two fuzzy, barely-recognisable pieces of photographic evidence that I ever went there.


I would love to go back in time and kick my own arse. DUDE! Why didn't you just GET IN THE STINKING PICTURES!? These were once in a lifetime experiences! Sure I looked like hell while travelling, but most people do, especially when you're on a budget.

I know I have the memories in my head, but there's something special about having a souvenir photo on your desktop or mantelpiece. I'd kill to have a decent shot of Rhiannon and I together in Red Square or Reykjavik. We worked long and hard to afford those trips so it's sad not have captured the euphoria and relief on our faces when we finally got there. But at the time it didn't feel like I'd be collecting memories, I just thought I'd be documenting FAT FAT FAT!

My favourite picture from our travels is this one from Estonia in 2004, that Rhiannon took without my knowledge. I look like a clown but I'm clearly not thinking about the fact my jeans were a snug size 18. I'm just thinking, "WOOHOO. Life is a hoot."

Every time I look at it, my resolve is strengthened to just jump into photos then laugh if they turn out dodgy. I'd rather have a dodgy photo of a happy moment than no photo at all. Half the joy is looking back and sniggering at your bad haircuts and questionable taste in fashion. I no longer say "I'll come back another day when I'm skinny", because the moment is already happening… right then and there!

So this is a call to any fellow Photophobes out there. Don't scream! Don't hide! Don't put yourself in a  corner! After all, you don't have to post the pictures on the bloody internet. They can gather dust on your hard drive, ready to make you smile and spark your memory when you're old and grey.

39 thoughts on “You’ve Got To Hide Your Lard Away

  1. that one she took without you knowing is awesome! you look so happy, and that’ what we see, not all the imperfections you think are there πŸ™‚

  2. Great entry! I find myself doing that, and when I am in a group photo and see it I just cringe, but you are totally right. I look back over photos that are much older and you think what was I worried about? I shouldn’t have just stayed in the moment and not gotten all tense because a photo was being taken! I am stepping out!

  3. So true. I have large swaths of my life of which I have no pics whatsoever. Spent a lot of time avoiding pictures. When I was with a group, I’d always volunteer to be the one who took the picture. I don’t think I ever thought I’d come back in shape and better dressed; I just didn’t want to look at the picture. And when I was touring alone, I always felt uncomfortable about “bothering” some stranger and asking them to take my picture.
    Funny thing was, my parents bought me a camera before I went away to study. I would send them pics of landscapes and monuments… my mom finally pointed out that when they bought me a camera they were hoping for pics of their daughter, not of sand dunes and medieval ruins.

  4. Great photo! And thanks for the reminder to just live life… sometimes we all need a gentle nod to remind us of that πŸ™‚

  5. I spent 28yrs of my life doing the same thing. I think Ive gone the other way now, but for the exact reasons. To try and capture one that makes me look good then getting excited when it does.

    “my jeans were a snug size 18”
    I’d kill for that feeling.

    You look sensational in the swing picture.

  6. Actually, Mich pointed out one of my pet peeves..

    When people go travelling, I don’t want to see their badly framed picture of the eiffel tower, god, I can google a thousand better pics..

    What I want to see is their face grinning madly as they stand underneath it.

    We already know what they look like. We see their face when they screw it up and see their belly when they don’t suck it in, so why try to hide it when we already see it.

    No more boring sceneries people! Get in the thick of things!

  7. You look fab in the swing picture. I am starting to force myself to have my photo taken, the way things are just now my children will have no idea what I looked like when I’m pushing up daisies. Morbid but excellent motivator to say CHEESE.

  8. I also run from cameras… even when I was ultra skinny I hid in the back… it is a shame to have no photos…

  9. Aren’t you still a little photophobic? (Or maybe just posting-the-photos-on-your-blog-phobic–perhaps it is unfair of me to lump those together, but I’ll finish my thought.) One of the most recent pictures of yourself that you posted was tiny because you were worried about how your thighs looked. You look great in all of the pics in this post, and you look awesome in the more current ones too, and I agree with you and prior commenters that capturing a person’s joy and other emotions at being in a place is the key, not whether they supposedly look goofy or fat. There’s no reason for you to worry. I mean, there’s no reason you should have to post tons of pics to satisfy my curiosity either, so don’t think that’s what I’m angling for, but sometimes it seems like you still feel really bad about yourself, and it makes me sad considering how great you are.

  10. When you get here next month, we are going to take a picture together in front of something very Chicago and it will be a full-length shot.

    And we will be goofy when doing it.

  11. spacedcowgirl – i just emailled you about this but in case anyone else has the same impression — i honestly have never felt better about myself, this past six months especially. i feel goooood. i am a very happy chappy!

    i just feel a bit wary of splashing pics of my gob all over the blog too often. i don’t want to be all gloaty, like LOOKIT ME AND MY FABULOUS LIFE AND O’ERFLOWING SELF-ESTEEM sorta thing.

    This year i’ve put in pics of me in my new dress, on my bike, up a few hills and the ones with my friend’s baby and even posting those i got all self-conscious, worrying it looked like I was showing off and/or whoring for compliments/validation. Mwahaha!!!

    Anyway I’m always sticking photos up on my Flickr account (see sidebar) of things I get up to so that’s my main place for being a camera tart πŸ™‚

    erin – i cannae wait, hen! woohoo πŸ™‚

    beckie – i hear ya comrade. i have taken too many pics like that. it doesn’t make for a very interesting Slide Night!

    thanks for the comments, groovers!

  12. Those jeans don’t look like size 18 anyway. Can hardly see them coz of the swing!
    Anyway, I’m not a photophobe but I have seriously censored the ones I allow on our flickr site. There was a couple of dodgy ones by the pool in Tunisia last year and I wasn’t bearing that much flesh on a public site!
    Life’s too short to avoid the camera.

  13. It is so difficult to put myself out there in photos at my weight, but it’s really silly. I mean, it’s not as though everyone around me doesn’t see how fat I am every minute of every day, so it’s really more about my not wanting to see myself as I really am. As much as I dread the reality of my body, to miss out on memories of precious times together with my parents, or Mick, or dear friends, or even total strangers is a much worse thing than to see that I look like a carnival float. Good reminder, Shauna!!!

  14. Hey Shauna! Loving the picture of you on the dodgy swing, it’s hilarious and definitely showes off the feeling you described!
    They (you know, them) say i’m photogenic, but i don’t really like pictures of myself and try to strike a pose that is the most flattering for my face/arms/waist or whatever part of my body i’m just overconscious about… But i still get loads of pictures shot now than, lets say 10 years earlier when i was slimmer, because i have learnt that it’s just nicer to have pictures of that particular moment (even if you’re totally drunk, or making a fool of yourself) than having none at all to remember. So cheeeeeeese πŸ˜€

  15. That is such a great way to think of it…a bad photo of a happy moment vs. no photo at all. I will try to remember this the next time I don’t want my picture taken!

  16. Such a GREAT post!!

    I’ve been fighting this inner war almost daily since meeting my husband 4 years ago. He loves to take photos of me/us at various interesting places we visit and inwardly I’m weeping because I loathe seeing my fat self in photos. He’d never let me hide though. Now I look back on those photos and they make me happy (even if I wouldn’t want them splattered all over the internet πŸ™‚ ). They remind me of lovely things we’ve done together. The funny thing is that the majority of the time I didn’t look 1/10th as bad as I thought I did.

  17. Shauna I know what you mean. Even now I’m still a photophobe – maybe because I always have my eyes shut and look half-stoned!

    But there are so many memories I wish I had captured better, and since you can’t go back in time I’m just trying to capture as many new ones as they come along now!!!

  18. I so agree with you and with Denise’s comments (#14) too – I have spent a lifetime avoiding cameras and hiding at the back of the group, peeking over someone’s shoulder. As Denise said – who am I fooling? The worst, worst, worst part is that I have very few photos of me with my kids when they were little. I was always the photographer and I so regret not getting my picture taken with them. I have hundreds of great photos of them with my ex – their dad (who did very little to help raise them) but very few with me in them. From a photographic standpoint, it looks like I wasn’t there for their childhood. You don’t get those times back, and just think – barring plastic surgery, you’ll never look younger than you do today, so take advantage of it!

  19. They’re wise words, Ms Shauna. I’ll make sure to take pictures of the WHOLE package when I’m travelling there next month.

    (I would LOVE to tour Scandanavia when I’m there!)

  20. I know what you’re talking about. For years, I would rarely get in photos to where I would be wondering, was I at that family gathering. Now, I get in the pictures but can’t help but be critical of my looks. I’m working on it, to have that healthy, fit body and working on my mind too!

  21. Its hard not to get selfconscious after all the years of avoiding cameras, but nowdays I try to get myself into photos and I love it!

  22. Hey Shauna,

    Did you know your website is linked in the Aussie Womans Weekly (July ed?)

    It’s about being internet savvy, and you are listed under “Health”.



  23. What a timely reminder. I just had to get my photo taken for a corporate magazine profile (the joy of working with the design team;”you’ll do dani”).
    So I did my hair, put on the makeup I wanted, made sure that they got to put the right boards behind me and got a few of them done. Not professional but still better than the ones that I have turned up in.
    I have vowed to just look happy in photos- have a laugh. I am the only one that hates them anyway!
    Life is too short to skulk in the corner…

  24. I was about 87kg at my 21st and I ripped up every single photo!! Nothing to remember me actually being at my own 21st. I suck!! Funny thing is, when I hit 87kg again, I’ll be bloody stoked!!

  25. dg, you’re right that having personal photos and putting them out there in the public domain are two very different things, and I’m sorry I sounded critical. Email back atcha. πŸ™‚

  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I’m a new mommy and barely have any photos taken with my baby because I am VERY photo-phobic right now. I swear, that my belly practically LOOKS like it’s jiggling in photos of me right now.
    Having said that, I’m missing out on photos in a time that I’ll never get back. THAT, and I’m probably going to have to explain myself to my baby-gal when she’s older, and wonders why mommy wasn’t in any of the 1 million photos taken of her when she was a baby.
    I’m gonna brave it – belly jiggle or not, and smile for the camera with pride.
    thanks for making me think…

  27. Good tip, Shauna! I never dodge shots. Well, mostly because it’s impossible when my husband is such a shutterbug! But I’m glad, because the pictures he takes are memories I cherish.

    And actually it was one of my husbands blatant photo session of me that finally got me to try and lose weight.

  28. The picture your sister took was great – it’s a good thing you didn’t know she had the camera in time to hide, LOL!

    You are truly an inspiration to me.

  29. I’m the opposite, I look at past pics and say gee I was skinny there, how could I have thought I was fat???

  30. Very good point Shauna–I have tons of pictures of my trip to Paris, and I realized that I am in exactly one of them! Why? First of all I didn’t think of it at the time, but also because I was hoping to lose another 15 pounds and be at my goal weight…Argh πŸ™

  31. Well you look adorable in that swing picture. I can’t believe how many places you have been in this world. Mom’s should really take your advice–it’s also terrible to go through family pictures and have nothing with Mom in them.

  32. Nice one DG. This photophobe will keep it in mind in the summer…and try to get out from hiding place behind the camera more.

  33. Oh hon, I was the same with photos of myself before! I love that photo of you in Estonia and you are so beautiful girl, you always have been. Shame it takes some of a while to reach this point where we finally are OK with who we are! Cheers to being more adventurous, happy and living the life we WANT to be living πŸ™‚

  34. Looks like there are heaps of us who do/did the same. I notice when I look through my kids photo albums that there are so few of me holding my kids when they were little, and I kick myself. What if something happens to me and my kids have no photos of themselves with their mother, all because I was worried I looked too fat for photos.

    Good post πŸ™‚

  35. “my head is enormous” is great. that’s why i totally love reading this blog! as far as photos go: REALLY. get in there! besides, pictures of monuments are sooo boring without people in them! i know that’s stating the bleedin’ obvious, but my gf has this annoying habit of taking photos of wherever we are, and i just keep leaping into frame cos i think “hey, isn’t it about the fact that WE were there?” if you just want a photo of the eiffel tower, buy a postcard!

Comments are now closed on all Dietgirl posts. For fresh conversation please visit me at