What To Do When A Photo Triggers You


Remember the first time you looked back at a photo of yourself from years before and thought:

“Wtaf was I thinking? Why was I so hard on myself?! I LOOK FINE”

And then the next thought flashes on in:

“Is it because I look worse now? Do I just think this photo is better in contrast to now?”

First up, take a deep breath. Then stick with me on this.


I remember the first time I had that moment. And I specifically remembered thinking at that time that I was clinically obese.

(Turns out I wasn’t.)

There are still times now when I look back at a photo and have these memories.

I recently came across this photo from when I was in primary school. I thought I was huge. I used to walk past a plus size clothes store at my local shopping centre and genuinely think I that was the place I should be buying my clothes from. Which is obviously not a bad thing. It was just the size I perceived myself to be.

Before I go on I want to make the point clear:

It’s not about looking back and seeing you were smaller than you thought and therefore “better”. Skinny doesn’t translate to superior. Just like fat doesn’t translate to less than.

Size doesn’t matter at all.

The point is you look back and realise you were good enough the whole time. 

That’s why it hurts.

Realising you were good enough and remembering that how you treated yourself was far from it.


Why are we so triggered by current photos and more accepting when we look back?

Self acceptance is hard. So I think it’s easier for us to accept past versions of ourselves, rather than the you that is here and now.

Photos that were taken days ago can feel like the worst thing in the world. They can cause tears, anxiety and send you into food restriction overdrive.

Yet if you look at that same photo in a years time you’ll see things differently.

Don’t wait that long to accept the you that you are now. You’re good enough now. You always have been and that won’t change.


What to do when a photo triggers you:

Awareness heals. So take a second to notice that you are triggered.

Then remember that you are a whole being. No one stares at you right cheek or your nose or your left arm for 20 minutes like you do. (And if they do, they’ve got their own issues.)

When you look at photos of other people you see their energy and personality too. You look at them as a whole person. (Because they are.) That’s how other people see you in photos.

Next is to remind yourself that a photo does not define your worth. We put so much meaning in photos! Yet you could look completely different in two photos that were taken two seconds apart.

Any time you put your self worth into something external, you are bound to be in pain. Looking good in a photo isn’t what makes you enough. You’re good enough now, by default. Without even having to do anything. And you always will be.



 Jessica Silsby is an Eating Psychology Coach, reformed fad dieter and peaceful eater.
She helps women crush binge eating so they finally feel free and empowered around food.
Jess is available for one-on-one coaching here. 





1 thought on “What To Do When A Photo Triggers You

  1. Great post Jess! I totally resonate with this. I use to look at old photos and think the worst. It would ruin my day. This is a far shift from what I believe now – that a photo, your work, your size does not define your worth.

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