One of the most common complaints I hear when a client is talking about scheduling their headshot or branding photo session is about their appearance. Usually it’s something like, “I need to lose x amount of weight, and I’ve finally accepted that’s not going to happen so I need to just get this done.”
Or, they might say something about how they really want to embrace and celebrate aging and the milestones they have reached, but they don’t like how old they look. Some even don’t have anything specific they dislike about themselves, they just know they don’t have any photos of themselves they like that look professional.
The way I approach these very real feelings is that I share how I will coach and guide their poses and give them options. I’m happy to meet them where they are, and they might be surprised by what we can achieve together! And one of the ideas I have been reflecting on most is how much nature can inspire us. We celebrate both sunrises and sunsets. In life, we have many phases, and I see beauty in every stage.
I’m an advocate for encouraging everyone to appreciate their body and the life it supports. That’s why when I was talking to Leah Hortin who is a wellness coach focused on anti-diet culture, I wondered if she might share how she supports her clients to love their bodies where they are. Gratitude to Leah for sharing her insight to my questions below.
Q1: What is the first step a person can take to appreciate their body and embrace who they are today?
The most simple answer is to start a regular body gratitude practice! Starting to learn to appreciate what your body does for you is the most effective way to start accepting your body. This might look like journaling, thinking of something you appreciate about yourself while brushing your teeth, or setting an alarm for every evening to acknowledge something your body did for you that day!
A more complex but necessary step is recognizing that the thoughts you have in your head about all your imperfections and faults are not your own, they aren’t helpful, and they aren’t kind. And starting to recognize that and decide to think differently is the key to long term success in loving your body no matter what it looks like! It isn’t your body that’s the problem, it’s the thoughts you have about your body that are!
Body image is complex - we believe that, well, if I don’t like what I see in the mirror, then I need to change what I see. But that is creating conditional acceptance of your body that relies heavily on external validation. To truly embrace who you are, that can only come from inside yourself.
Q2: What are the most common ways you see people sabotage themselves or get sucked back into the diet culture?
It is important to know that the diet and beauty industries net over $500B globally and the marketing is highly effective! The lure of the quick fix is strong. We are constantly bombarded with messages to make us feel like there is something wrong with our appearance so it is natural for us to want to correct that. In general, our society (and therefore ourselves) puts too much emphasis on our image.
Unfortunately, the measures that people tend to take for weight loss are either ineffective or unsustainable. It is made to look as easy as following this diet plan, or taking this pill, or doing this workout program and you too can have the body of your dreams! But the fact that 95% of dieters regain within 5 years, and two-thirds of those people gain back even more than they lost is pretty telling.
And oftentimes, people turn to diets with the best intentions, and often under the guise of health. To compound the issue, our medical system is also very weight-centric and over 70% of patients are being prescribed weight loss, even though we know the success rate is only 5% and while yes, there is a correlation of weight and certain health conditions, there is no link to weight being the cause of poor health. Your health is more complex than just the number on the scale but we’re not taught that in our traditional western medicine approach.
It is hard to override all the messaging we’re receiving but putting on your critical thinking hat and doing your research can help dull the impulse to diet. Also take a close look at your own personal history with dieting… has it been successful long term? If you’re looking to turn to dieting again, my guess is that it wasn’t. So is that really the answer to the problem at hand? Food for thought.
Q3: What is your advice for someone who wants to get “photo ready”?
You were born photo ready! Instead of focusing on what you’ll look like in the pictures, think about how you want to feel and the energy you want to put out in your images!
You will probably never feel “photo ready” and that’s ok! You can still have a great time and get fantastic photos when you’re in the hands of a good photographer like Holli!
Q4: What is your advice for someone who is disappointment in how they look in their portraits?
Have you ever taken a picture of a beautiful sunrise, or the moon shining bright at night? Then you look at the picture and you think, wow, that doesn’t do it justice at all?
Well, the same thing goes for images of you. They are just fractions of seconds in time captured by a machine. They aren’t you.
And hey, even models and superstars take bad pictures from time to time!
Thank you, Leah, for sharing your expertise and how you support clients with these concerns! If you wish to connect and learn more about Leah's coaching:
Leah is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and body confidence coach. She helps women heal their relationship with food and their bodies so they can live happy, healthy lives instead of obsessing about all the ways they are falling short.
If you are ready to get off the diet rollercoaster and create healthy habits that set you up for a lifetime of success and loving your body, you can join her free group www.antidiethealthclub.com or email email@example.com for a zero-obligation consultation.