A Divine Selfie

By Liz Pardue-Schultz

A Divine Selfie

“It’s PERFECT! You’re BEAUTIFUL! We got it on the first try!” my 7-year-old daughter excitedly proclaimed as she looked at the new image in my camera’s screen. She had just watched me contort myself into a photo-worthy position, hold it, and smile convincingly before she took my picture for a monthly yoga selfie challenge I was doing online.

She ran over to where I was unfurling from the pose and proudly showed off her work. “See, Mommy?! It’s GREAT!”

She rendered me speechless.

Since I was about 11 or 12, my very first reaction to seeing a picture of myself has been to immediately pick it apart and point out everything that is wrong with it to anyone within earshot. I’d barely gotten the camera from my daughter’s grasp, and already I was prepared to launch into a litany of things that disgusted me with the photo. I just sensed that it was going to be a disappointment; they always seem to be in my mind. But the look of pride and admiration on her face stopped me dead in my tracks.

What would I be teaching her if she heard me tear myself down right now? I thought. She’s proud of me. Who am I to try to convince her that she’s wrong?…And why am I so convinced that she is?

Just asking myself this struck something deep inside me. I had to stop myself from gasping aloud.

I’ve spent decades looking at my reflection, picking out all the tiny things that make me “imperfect,” then turning around and trying to get others to see all those things in photos of myself when they were taken. I’d always make sure to point out that my nose is “massive,” or that my arms “resemble turkey legs,” or my eyebrow-grooming choices are chronically awful. Even when seeing myself in videos, I’d diagnose myself as being “too big,” or my voice being “too deep”…

“Too deep” for what? “Too big” for whom?

Why couldn’t I just look at myself and say, “Yup. That’s what I look like. I’m perfect and deserve to be loved just like that.” Why was I so intent on convincing other people that I wasn’t worthy of compliments or admiration? Why was arguing with someone about how I looked so important that I did it as a natural reaction? And how in the world has this behavior been helping me at all? Why in the world am I wasting so much time and energy fighting against myself?

There is a beautiful quote from the 1994 movie The Crow in which the protagonist says “‘Mother’ is the name for God on the lips and hearts of all children.” As terrifying a prospect as this is to any parent, it rings true as we all take into account how profoundly our own parents influenced us, both negatively and positively.

I’ve always known my daughter thinks I’m wonderful, and whether or not we agree that I’m flawless, she will carry many of my behaviors with her as her own. (I am reminded of this every time I hear my own mother come out of my mouth.) There aren’t many opportunities in which I’m able to pause and clearly decide which of my negative attributes she witnesses, but in this moment, I decided that self-hatred is not a bad habit she will learn from me. 

I looked down at the photo with new eyes. There I was, standing in Tree Pose, one leg tucked under my hip, while my arms reached up toward the sun. My posture wasn’t ideal, but I was holding the pose with strength and a smile that showed sincere joy in that moment.

It was beautiful. It was perfect.

I looked up at where my little girl stood, still smiling broadly, and pulled her in for the sort of embrace I reserve for someone who has just rescued me from peril.

“You’re right, Bear,” I said softly. “We got it on the first try.”

About this writer

  • Liz Pardue-Schultz Liz Pardue-Schultz is a writer, model, custom framer and oddity curator in beautiful Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina.

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One Response to “A Divine Selfie”

  1. Liz if only we could handle our own self worth with the same tenderness we do our offspring, instead of using self deprecating remarks. It took me years to learn that lesson. Your story has such a positive spin.

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