I am very camera shy. I usually, unconsciously, just avoid having my photo taken. Obviously as the face of my own business, Dijolife, this is not sustainable.

This week I decided to do some journaling to recognise the trigger to this anxiety. I simply don’t want to feel pressure every time someone says smile.

Last night, during the witching hour, I had a huge breakthrough when I dreamt of my grade 6 class photo.

I was standing on the iron bench in the back row. The only girl because I was so tall. I was feeling proud. I had spent hours on my hair and even ironed my school uniform. For those that know me well, I do not even own a hairdryer, this was important to me.

The first time I had really ever made on effort with my appearance.

The boy standing next to me said, “wow…you are huge!”

In that one moment my self-esteem was shattered.

I woke up in tears, ashamed and embarrassed. I was physically shaking and realised I wanted to be anywhere rather than standing on that iron bench.

How had I ever felt beautiful?

The shamanic cultures believe that when a traumatic event occurs that part of your soul leaves the body. For 12 year old me, this was deeply traumatic.

I realised this one event had been a silent shadow to every subsequent picture I had ever taken. I need to release this shadow and bring my 12 year old self home.

So this morning I wrote Jimmy, (not his real name for legal reasons), a letter of forgiveness and then I wrote myself a list of reasons why I shouldn’t take self-esteem cues from 12 year old boys.

Like most anxiety symptoms, I had wrongly believed I was alone. But the statistics are out.

In a recent study Dove found:

  • 63% of women have destroyed photos of themselves,
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 have stopped photos being taken or later destroyed photos of a beach holiday, a significant party with friends/family and even their own graduations,
  • Being tagged in a photo on a social network causes more than half of women to feel more anxious about the way they look, and
  • Almost half (46%) have de-tagged, deleted or removed a photo of themselves.

I wanted to share because I have learned there is usually always a traumatic root to our social anxiety. I had forgotten mine until some pointed journaling questions released my subconscious.

I do not think I am cured, but when you know better, you can do better.

So I have created a little affirmation to remind myself that photos are not a source of fear, but a beautiful moment in imperfect time.

“I am grateful for this moment and I allow myself to authentically shine.”

What shadow are you bringing to every photo shoot?

…X Sare