So. Not-Crazy-Renee and I took our kids to Oak Mountain State Park on Friday. We went on a hike, and then to the petting zoo. The goats, peacocks, donkey, and pony were as much fun as usual, and the mixture of animals and children made for delightful photographic opportunities.



At one point, I took a couple of pictures of Not-Crazy-Renee hanging out with my favorite petting zoo character, the donkey. He’s really quite the best.



I noticed in the pictures (and really several times that day) that Not-Crazy-Renee was looking mighty hot. When I sent her the pictures, she noticed also, and thanked me for providing her the first pictures of herself that didn’t make her say “Holy Baby Weight, Batman!!”

To pay me back for taking FABULOUS pictures of her (and her children), she sent over a photo she snapped of me feeding the goats (because my children had shoved their bags of feed into my hands due to their premature tiring of their goat following.)

Rachel Petting Zoo

I couldn’t even look at the photo but for a second – I was not happy. I have body image issues just like 99.9% of women. I especially struggle with seeing photos of myself, like 99.8% of women (the .01% post selfies all the time and I’m all like HOW ARE YOU SO GOOD AT THAT? And stop.)

Many times, I have complained to friends of the struggle of not knowing which me with the real me -Mirror Me or Photo Me?? I want it to be Mirror Me. Because when I look in the mirror, I’m usually not unhappy. But Photo Me – she kills me every time.

Naturally, I spent the entire evening internally obsessing over new nutrition plans and calorie counting and maybe I need to add some other forms of exercise in with my running, as one does. You know the drill. It’s the plight of women.

(And if you don’t, I envy you greatly.)

The next morning, as I was getting ready to go on a run that I really didn’t feel like doing but I was going to because of that DANG PICTURE, I looked in the mirror in a very similar exercise shirt to the one I had worn the day before. I was again befuddled at the difference between me Mirror Me and Photo Me.

WHY can’t they be the same person? And WHICH one is really me??

So I decided to take a picture of Mirror Me and see if Mirror Me would stay Mirror Me when inserted into a photo. I NEEDED TO KNOW.

Mirror Me did indeed stay Mirror Me.


Further befuddlement.

I had even shot the photo more straight-on, trying to get a bad angle in there to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself. I wasn’t sucking in or anything – I needed THE TRUTH. I even let my bra strap side fat hang out!

I then took a selfie without the mirror involved just to make sure Mirror Me wasn’t lying.


(Let me assert here that none of this was done in the interest of a future blog post – it was all done due to my own ridiculous vanity, confusion, and Quest For The Real Me.)

Then I put my Mirror Me Selfie and My Not-Crazy-Renee photo next to each other, zero edits on either one.


I was blown away. And I realized that my photo collage seemed very familiar….if I just swapped the order of the two pictures, I could sell $200 per month diet pills by saying this was my before and after!

Before After or Not

I have known about the power of angles for a long time, and have believed in it fully in the case of how my face looks, but I’d never completely allowed myself to believe it with my body image. So this was a huge moment for me. It helped me realize that I’ve got to stop freaking out about photos. Because cameras lie. All the time. And even the most most beautiful celebrities get horrendous photos taken of them sometimes.


(Oh look at that. Even Beyonce.)

After staring at my two photos for an extended and entirely ridiculous amount of time, I went on my run, feeling much more awesome about myself. Every glance I caught in a window looked skinnier, stronger, and more confident than my last run had because, as I’m well aware, what I look like mentally is 90% what what my head thinks I look like.

So. Next time you see a horrible photo of yourself, and you immediately vow to start a new diet and make your life more miserable with disgusting cardboard food or perhaps just liquids, go look in a mirror. And maybe even take a selfie.

Because it was just a bad photo.

Not-Crazy-Renee and I still love each other (well, she might love me more than I love her – at least for 22 hours,) and in actuality, we both helped each other out with our photos. I helped her realized that she has indeed lost all that baby weight (and she has – it wasn’t just trick photography), and she helped me realize that I need to quit letting my mental image of myself be dictated by Photo Me. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle, but from now on, I’m going to believe that the real me is Mirror Me.

Oh – and because I know you wanted this to be a Not-Crazy-Renee story and not some introspective revelation, just to let you know, Not-Crazy-Renee is just as Not-Crazy as ever – especially when she uses text dictation.

renee text

8 thoughts on “Self-Esteem Lessons From the Petting Zoo.

  1. Oh Autocorrect, how we love thee! You should submit this to that Autocorrect Fails website. That is pure gold.

    I’ve noticed the SAME THING with myself in pictures vs. the mirror! I’ll be feeling all hot and gorgeous, then someone takes a picture of me and I see it on Facebook later and I’m like um where the hell did my waistline go??? How does this happen? What is this trickery? I did gain close to 40 pounds over the course of two years so I know I’m not going to look like I used to but seriously.

  2. Oh the struggles!! Feeling good walking out the door and then once I catch my reflection in a store window I’m questioning everything.

  3. The same thing happens to me. But I think it also has to do with the person holding the camera. My Dad & my 7 year old son both take fantastic pictures of me. They look how I view myself in the mirror most days. My husband or Mom take pictures of me & I am always making a crazy face, or mid-stride, I look like Bigfoot or people of Walmart (I love Walmart, but… seriously) I think some people have an eye for images, and some just indiscriminately snap away. And it’s not just my reaction to the people (I smile at my hubby & Mom).
    Perhaps it’s attention to details. Dad & my son both do, & turns out well. Mom & hubby get frustrated with cameras & phones and why does it take 1/2 a second & here this is the best I can do.
    I take 20 to find a good one, not one, I like to keep picture option open. And faces after so many years and 3 kids, I know which angles work best for me, which is why I’m glad I’m so much shorter than my hubby :)

  4. That Beyonce picture is everything!! I’m going to put that on my phone as my reminder of the tricks cameras play!! Such a great post and a great reminder. I just read a book called “Things they don’t tell fat girls” and it’s all about letting go of the mental bullying we do to ourselves. Thanks for this post and keeping it fresh in my mind.

    oh and pedophile! HA!

  5. Thank you , thank you for proving what I have been suspecting for a while now. I too will like what Mirror Me looks like then see Picture Me and wonder how in the world did I not see how fat I am!!! From now on I will think of myself only as Mirror Me and make sure any pictures of me are head shots only!
    ROFL on that auto correct, best one ever!

  6. Oh goodness. I laughed out loud at the frolicking with pedophiles. Oh and I totally had a bad picture of photo me the other day. Unfortunately it was one someone submitted to be in our church’s weekly newsletter! What?! And then I noticed this week that they didn’t change it!!! Grr.

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