Stop Putting Yourself Down and Reclaim your Self Worth

Don’t let a snapshot steal your joy; learn how to see yourself through God’s eyes and embrace your true worth instead of putting yourself down.


Are you tired of cringing every time you see a photo of yourself? Do you find that your inner “Mean Girl” takes over, filling your mind with self-doubt and criticism? 

You’re not alone, and there’s a way out. 

Today, I want to explore why photos often trigger negative self-image and how cultural expectations and even photography specifics play a role. This is something that’s come up in the Facebook group and many of my conversations over the past few years with different clients and people. 

There was a post in the Facebook group last week about not liking what you see in photos. As I read through all the comments I could see that this is something that everyone is dealing with. Almost universally at some point, you’ll get a photo back and then hate what you see. 

I want to talk about that a little bit today. And also talk about how we talk to ourselves when we get a glimpse of ourselves that we don’t like. 

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Before we get too into this, I want to share something with you. Recently I took some new branding photos and overall they came out pretty well. I was pretty happy with them. I will be completely honest and tell you that my 10-year-old was the photographer and I did the editing. 

The last time I did branding photos it was a hassle and I did not want to deal with that again when I have a perfectly good camera and pretty good editing skills. So we took these pictures and I liked most of them, but there were a few that I just really hated. 

It was one of those things where I saw the image and thought it didn’t look like how I perceived myself to be. It’s because number one, I know that the right side of my face always looks puffier in photos. It’s the weirdest thing, and it’s probably because my face isn’t symmetrical. 

When I take pictures of myself, or selfies, I tend to pose with my left side to the camera. One of the first things that hit me when I saw this picture was the fact that it was on the wrong side of my face. The other thing that I hated about this was the way the clothing draped over me. 

At this point, I’m six months pregnant in this picture so I’m not going to look super tiny, but I just hate the look of my full bust over my full belly and the way the clothes are hanging over it. I just want you to know that this is something that happens to everybody. 

We all get pictures back that we just don’t like. The truth is that sometimes those pictures are really unattractive. When you ask other people to tell you what they think about these pictures, a lot of times they’ll tell you, this doesn’t look like you. 

However, until we get that feedback, a lot of times we’ve got that loop in our head of negative self-talk saying terrible things to ourselves. Things like I shouldn’t even bother to get dressed. I look hideous. This talk in our head is what I want to talk about today.

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Negative Thoughts in Your Mind

I also want to talk a little bit about why we do this to ourselves. A lot of times we have this response and emotion and get stuck in it. It takes us a while to kind of dig out and figure out why we think these things about ourselves. 

The reality is that some of the things that I read make me so sad that you guys would say these things about yourselves. I hate it for you and with you. I hate that you have to experience these moments of negativity and these horrible thoughts that you think and say about yourselves that you would never in a million years say to your daughter, your best friend, or even your mom.

You would not say these things to another human being yet you’re perfectly fine saying them to yourselves. To start with, I want to talk about what’s going on when we don’t like how we look in photos or in the mirror. Three things go into this when it comes to your perception of yourselves and your self-image of yourselves.  

Past History

Much of it is tied up in your prior history and experiences that you’ve had. Because not one of us can come in and say, I’ve never had somebody well-meaning insult me.  Like my grandma. I remember one time when we went to Thanksgiving dinner, she patted me on the hip and said, “You should probably skip dessert today.”

The funny thing is that I wasn’t even that heavy at the time. This makes it kind of funny because I was at one of my lower weights and she still said something like that to me. My grandmother was known for not really catching her tongue and just saying things and insulting people frequently. 

I just let it roll off my back for the most part, but most of my family got upset by the things she said. We’ve all had those experiences, right? I remember one time I had a friend tell me, “You shouldn’t wear that color lipstick. It makes you look terrible.” 

The thing is, sometimes people think they’re being helpful when it’s not helpful. And these are just the small things. The small experiences that we’ve had create our self-image and contribute to how we see ourselves and how we talk about ourselves. 

We can go deeper into things that have happened to us that are bad experiences, memories, and situations we’ve been in. Sometimes these are traumas or lifelong struggles, habits, and addictions. I know that I have worked with a couple of women who have a prior history of eating disorders. 

All of this history comes together to coalesce and create your self-image. It’s why when you see these images of yourselves in the mirror and pictures you don’t like it. 

All those experiences just fling forward into your mind and come out of your thoughts and head. I want you to know that it’s not going to be just that one picture that’s contributing to all those negative things that you’re saying and thinking. It’s a lifetime of experiences that’s contributing to that. 

Cultural and Societal Expectations

The second thing, which is probably pretty obvious, is that cultural and societal expectations play a huge part in why we say these things about ourselves. It’s really interesting to me because I’ve been privy to being on social media and seeing brands that have very diverse representations of women.

If it’s a really popular company or a popular post, if you read through the comments, it’s just a mix of very supportive people and people who are extremely hateful. I think that we have all probably grown up with certain expectations about how we should look in America. 

The size we should be, the color of our skin, the way our hair should look, how long our hair should be, and whether or not we should have any acne. There are all these expectations about how women are supposed to look. 

Even as we get older,  are we supposed to age gracefully? Are we supposed to look like we’re still 25? All of these things, these expectations have the reverse effect in a way of giving us negative things to say about ourselves. 

We convince ourselves that if we are not exactly those expectations, then we must be all the negative things that everybody else says we are. If you’re online or anywhere else,  you know that many people find something unattractive and you happen to see it in yourself. 

Whether it’s in the mirror or a picture, you happen to see it in yourself. All the things that you’ve ever seen and read again, just like with your prior history, are going to run through your mind and jump out at you and be a constant negative mean girl inside your head saying these terrible things to you. 

Photography Skills

The last thing I want to talk about here is pretty specific to the photography thing. Having done some amateur photography in the past, I will say that there’s a lot that goes into making people look good in photographs.

You can go look up entire guides to help you pose in photographs: how to look thinner, how to look smaller, how to look better. The reality is that a lot of it has to do with the skill of your photographer. In my experience, a skilled photographer will be the one telling you how to pose. 

If your photographer’s not giving you any advice for how to position yourself you should expect to get some pictures back that you don’t like. And it may be that they just don’t know these things because the reality is that anybody can buy a camera and a website and call themselves a photographer. 

There is a lot of specific information and education that goes into taking good photos. Cameras don’t take good photos, people take good photos. It’s the angles, the lighting, the type of camera, and the type of lens they’re using. 

There are a lot of things, even the height of the photographer in relation to you. For my pictures, my daughter took them and she’s shorter than me, not by much, but shorter than me. So some of the images are a little distorted from that perspective. 

All of these things go into getting a good photograph. If your photographer is not very experienced and doesn’t know how to help you pose, sit, or stand in the most flattering way you’re going to get pictures back that don’t look like you think they look. 

Your Inner Mean Girl

In the Mean Girls movie, these horrid girls have this burn book where they write and say terrible things about anyone and everyone who happens to make them the most mad. This is what I liken this experience to. When we start talking about ourselves and to ourselves in this way.

It’s your inner mean girl, your own inner Regina George. We need to kick her to the curb because there is no way that you would say these things to a loved one. You would not say them to your daughter. You would not say them to your friend. You might not even say them to a stranger on the internet. But we are okay saying these things to ourselves. 

We definitely should not do those things. We should stop that talk immediately. The verse comes to mind that says to take all your thoughts captive to Christ. When those things start to roll through your head, you should immediately just be like, “Get behind me, Satan.” 

Don’t listen to it.  Hand those thoughts and feelings over to God and let go of them. Decide that you’re not going to have these thoughts about yourself or say these things about yourself. Another one of my favorite verses that always hits me like a ton of bricks is that life and death are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit. 

The things you’re saying about yourself are not just affecting you. If you are saying negative things to yourself, who’s hearing you, especially if you have children? I know a lot of times we think, “I don’t want my daughter to think the way I think or say the things I think about myself.” 

It’s also your sons. Think about what you are making normal in front of your sons.  I would like to also encourage you, if you’re thinking these things and expressing these things about yourself, to be mindful of who is listening to you because small ears have big thoughts. 

Combating a Negative Self-Image

I want to talk about three things to combat this negative self-image. Three practical tips to help you when these thoughts come into your mind when you are faced with an image of yourself that you don’t like. 

Identifying Lies

The first one is to identify the lies. I mentioned earlier that a lot of the things that we think about ourselves are from history and cultural expectations. So I would encourage you to dig deep and ask yourself, “Why do I think this?” And let the answer come. 

When that answer comes, ask why is that true. I’ve always heard that if you want to get to the bottom of something, keep asking why for every answer that you have. Keep asking why. Just keep digging. You can journal this out if you want to. 

Along that vein, I did want to share something with you. The Radiant By Design membership was created for this purpose. As I worked with people and I helped people with their clothing and with their colors, I saw them get stuck. 

It happens to everyone, and the level of stuck is always a little different. Some people get stuck really big and some people get stuck kind of small. What I realized, as a business owner and image consultant, is that not just about the clothes you put on your body.  It’s not just about that. 

It’s about who we are on the inside. The reality is how we show up and how we get dressed is a form of communicating who we are. I created this because everybody kept getting stuck. I realized that everyone’s going to get stuck and need some tools to help them get unstuck from that place because it’s such a huge mindset problem.

A mindset issue of who we think we are, how we see ourselves, and how we relate to the world around us. Out of all the lessons in there, two-thirds of them are about improving your self-image and helping yourself move forward and get unstuck from the things that you think about yourself. 

There’s a 14-day self-image journal. Each day there is a devotional with some biblical truth, and then there’s a question to help you work on this thing. It’s all laid out for you. This is just one of the resources inside the membership that will help you identify the lies and embrace the truth. 

There’s also a full-on body image assessment to help you figure out where you are right now. There are biblical lessons in it and then there are also some identity worksheets here to help you as well. If you want to go deep and start to improve your self-image, see yourself truthfully as God does, and get rid of that mean girl in your head, I would highly recommend joining the membership. 

Replacing Lies with Truth

The next thing I want to talk about is replacing the lies with truth. Once you know what the lies are, it’s time to dig deep into the Bible, dig deep into who you are, and find out what the truth is that gets rid of those things. We want to replace all these lies with the actual truth, not the false truth. 

Practice Affirmation

The third thing here is to create a practice of affirmations. My favorite way to do this is to use your bathroom mirror because most of us at least glance at the mirror when we’re getting ready. Whether we’re brushing our teeth, putting on makeup, or getting dressed. Whatever we’re doing, we’re standing in front of the mirror.

This is something that I started doing a long time ago when I was first a Christian. It wasn’t so much related to image and style as it was to who I was becoming. I still use it for that purpose. I don’t use it much for self-image because I’ve done some of this healing work myself and don’t often have terrible negative thoughts in my head about myself.

I still use this to focus on the scriptures that I am trying to absorb.  It doesn’t have to be scripture in your affirmations, it could be quotes or whatever else.  I always tell people to pick three to put on their bathroom mirror because when you’re getting ready in the morning, you can look at them, think about them, and meditate on them.

Let those thoughts transform you. Of course, I’m going to tell you to choose biblical verses because that’s where you’re going to find the truth. Putting them up there on your mirror where you can see them and look at them will help you memorize these verses, absorb this information and take it in. 

Final Thoughts on Putting Yourself Down

God sees us as his precious children. As moms,  we look at our kids and sometimes we’re critical of the things they wear or how they fix their hair.  But we don’t look at our kids and think the kind of things that we think about ourselves. 

God doesn’t look at us and think those things about us either. I would hate for you to continue and carry on doing that to yourself. I hope that this has just been a thought process, some insights, and some practical tips that I found for myself and while working with some clients.

I just want to assure you that it’s not okay. Not because you’re bad, but because it’s not okay to feel that way about yourselves. You are so loved by an infinite God who does not want you to feel those things about yourself either. 

He doesn’t want us to be so conflated in ourselves that we don’t think we have any flaws either. There’s a middle ground there. He doesn’t want us to be so bowled over by a picture that is not accurate of who we really are and how we look that we think that we have no worth whatsoever. 

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These Christian-based steps will help you reclaim your self-worth, silence that inner critic, and stop putting yourself down.

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