Welp. This happened.
This photo has now appeared in/on:
-Three different issues of the Ensign
-The Liahona (I received many emails from Latvians)
-The For the Strength of Youth Pamphlet
-The 2011 Gospel Doctrine manual
-The Oklahoma City Temple brochure
-The Service page of LDS.org
I've grown so accustomed to this photo popping up everywhere Mormon related that I'm not really mortified anymore. And this is the better version. Yeah, I wish I had brushed my hair, but the original picture features me, my scraggly hair, and my second chin. This is just my scraggly hair and like 1/8 of my face, which somehow people still recognize? Whatever. The elderly lady looks great and that's probably why this image is making the rounds as often as it is. The elderly lady wasn't great though. The whole hour I sat next to her bed, she told me no one ever comes to visit, and the photographer would say "Smile!" Her husband died of some horrible disease, and the photographer would say "Look over here! Smile!" Her children rarely call, "Smile! Why aren't you smiling?" The photographer would coax and I'd do my best to not reflect the depression and guilt that I felt for only pretending to serve this woman and not actually doing anything to lighten her load. So now every time I see this photo, which as I've already explained is more often than I'd like, I'm reminded to try and not be a terrible, selfish human. I'm also reminded to buy a brush.
It's one of a few photos that serves as an important life reminder. Another is one that I won't post because...I just can't. Also, I've done everything possible to make sure it's buried deep in the internet and I don't even think I could find it if I tried. But I'll describe it for you.
I'm a missionary, dressed in a frumpy turtleneck and skirt with a name tag reading "Masa Morlija" on my shoulder. My hair is carelessly pulled back and I look, well I look like I ate my companion. Six months into my mission in Latvia I had gained a significant amount of weight. My small frame looked and felt like it might break under the pressure of the inflated person it was struggling to keep upright. You know how people get their lips done and the plastic surgeon injects fat until the lips are nice and puffy? It was like someone did that to my entire body but added even extra to my face. It was a long, dark winter, I could barely understand anything anyone was saying, I missed America, and chocolate was my only coping mechanism. I was coping a lot. It was a pretty low point. Things got better though. I learned Latvian. I learned to love a lot of things about Latvia and a lot of Latvians. I continued to eat a good amount of chocolate, but eventually the sun came out and the warm Spring weather allowed us to walk and I could successfully button my shirts again. My mission was always hard, but the good kind of hard. Like the boy, I'm glad I don't have to do that again, but I'm also glad I did it kind of way. After I had returned from my 18 months away and lost about 30 pounds, that dark days photo showed up on Facebook. I of course yelled in horror and promptly untagged myself, but I also felt proud that I wasn't the person in that photo anymore. That I had improved and finished the job that on that December day had seemed so impossible. I never look at that picture, but when I think about it, I'm reminded that things usually get better. Also to go easy on the chocolate.
Then there's this one.
This is week 38 of pregnancy. Looking back on the progression, in most of the photos leading up to this, I look excited and smiley in fresh maternity clothes. But here I just look tired. Tired and ready. That maternity top barely fit. Again, why did I not brush my hair? Anyway, I didn't want to be pregnant anymore. I wanted to be holding a baby. This is the last photo of Meg as just Meg, before Meg became Ivy's mom. I was just so ready to be Ivy's mom. And even though becoming a mom was overwhelming and difficult and scary, more than I expected, it was also absolutely the best thing to ever happen to me. This photo reminds me that even on days when motherhood feels tough, I'm so much happier having Ivy to hold, being Ivy's mom than I ever was as just Meg.
There are worse things than an unflattering photo, I guess. But don't you dare post one of me without my approval.