Have you ever gotten a family portrait done?
Everyone gets in matching clothes. Mom is pushing to everyone out the door to be on time (and before the kids mess up the pretty clothes) Dad is dragging his feet, because a family picture is the last thing he wants to do with his day off.
Well, what do family portraits represent? False representations of close knit communities that live together in harmony with smiles plastered on their faces and looking their best?
You go into most family homes and you can find a picture resembling something of the sort. Honestly, I always look at these pictures and wonder what happened in the hours and minutes before this perfect snapshot of what a family “should” be was taken.
I look at my own families group shots (not that there are many of them) and stare into the eyes of each person. There is one picture of me with my family, we’re all grinning ear to ear and I remember that to be one of the most difficult times of my life with my eating disorder. It creates almost a feeling of resentment for the picture. Largely because people look at that and say “What a beautiful, wonderful, sweet… family.” And I see that picture and remember feeling hopeless.
It’s almost like a lie without words.
“Let’s show everyone how coordinated and cute we are.”
“Let’s take a snapshot of a memory that is captures getting out picture taken.”
“Let’s make sure we live up to looking like a “beautiful, wonderful, sweet…. family.”
Life is messy. People are messy. Relationships are messy. Family is messy.
I feel no resentment towards a set of photographs my mom has of me where my grandmother is trying to take pictures of me in a cute dress with matching shoes, socks and a hat to top it off. I, being four and seeing no benefit of faking anything sat there in the chair and pouted as BIG and as WIDE and as NOTICEABLY as I possibly could. No faking anything there. I also particularly love christmas morning pictures, with all of our bed-head rocking, some photos where we are arguing, some where we are happy, some where we are hiding…. Why are those not displayed on the wall or the mantle?
What statement are we trying to make with our family portiats?
“My family is better looking than yours?”
“We can fake it better than you can.”
“Look how pretty we are, don’t you wish you were us?”
Are family portraits truly for memory sake?
If that is the case what memory are you making in that moment, that so greatly deserves a picture?
My point is this: If we hold on to, strive for, and continually place “fake” realities of ourselves on display for us personally, and the world to see publicly – how are we ever going to accept who we really are? All messy and broken and human.
Then it begs the questions… well what are we doing on Facebook?
That’s for another post.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand.