As I sat on the couch with my daughter Claire, who is nine, she looked at her baby picture and said

“I guess my eyes will always look like this with dark circles”

I froze. It felt like an eternity although in reality was a second. My mind raced. I need to say the right thing. I can already see the shift from being free in her body to wanting more privacy. I can’t shield her from the messages of the world but how I treat myself and how I respond matters.

I felt shock that she even notices that about her eyes. Does she think it is a bad thing? Did someone make fun of her? Does she think that is not beautiful?
Then I took a deep breath and remembered it is not my job to put ideas in her head that may have never been there. So I said, I love that about your eyes because when I look at them I see myself, your Mima, and your Abuelita because you got it from us.

She smiled and said yeah I got it from them. What else did I get from my family? Then we started talking about her dark skin, ears, teeth, and all the things she loves about herself.

It reminded me of a photographer that I worked with in April, Wendy Yalom. She was the first photographer that helped me let go of being self conscious and allowed me to let go and be in the moment. I finished the shoot on such a high. As we said goodbye she told me when you get the photos back, remember to go through them at least three times with appreciative looking.

What is appreciative looking? I had never heard of this. She said as you look at each picture look for 1-2 things you love about the picture. Seems simple right? Not so easy when our brains are wired to pick things apart and find what is wrong. The crazy thing is it works! When I got the pictures my immediate thought was man I felt so beautiful taking them but they don’t look as amazing as I thought. I took a step back, took a deep breath, and start looking for what I loved. By the time I was done I loved every picture.

For years I never smiled in pictures because of my crooked teeth. Well, now I love my crooked teeth because I have my dad’s smile. It makes me, me. That is what I hope I gave to Claire that day, appreciative looking. I didn’t plant seeds asking if she didn’t love that feature I went straight to appreciative looking.

So much of the struggle with food and body stems from trying to control and wanting to change our bodies. Give yourself the gift of appreciative looking today. Not only will you start to see yourself in a new light, but my hope is you will get in front of the camera more because you and your loved ones deserve the memories of your smiling face.

Comment below and let me know one feature you love about yourself and why. I would love to hear about it.

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