"I am, like every single woman I know, highly critical of my own image..."

My baby boy helped me appreciate my beauty

I am, habitually, uncomfortable in front of the camera. I have been told that I am too expressive and not suited for candids. Due to some deep-seated insecurities stemming from childhood, I’m generally of the opinion that my teeth resemble something out of the Big Book of British Smiles. If you’re lucky enough to get a smile out of me, it is sealed shut. If I’m feeling especially lacking that day you, will get nothing more than my tongue sticking out, à la obstinate child. While I’m certainly not going to say there are no good photos of me, I am, like every single woman I know, highly critical of my own image, for personal and social reasons which we do not need to expound on here.

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a child of my own who is, of course, absolutely gorgeous and, wouldn’t you know, very photogenic. He inherited his father’s colouring, so bless his heart he won’t reflect the sun back from the earth while in a swimsuit. He has a delightful curl to his hair, and several of his toes are decidedly webby. Like all new parents, we have taken thousands of photos of him and sometimes, when I’m bored or blue for any manner of reason, I’ll find myself lost in them, overcome with the warm and fuzzies.

One of the things about my son, and his aforementioned photo-friendliness, is his smile. It’s big, it’s unabashed, and, most importantly, when he smiles his widest you can see the inside of his oh-so-chubby cheeks peeking out at you. This feature, without question, quickly became my favourite thing about Nico’s smile.

A funny thing happened the other day. Looking through some old photos on Facebook, I stumbled upon what could quite possibly be the sole photo of me smiling wide—an impromptu shot, a moment when I didn’t have the time to think “hide your teeth!” before my friend snapped away. What I discovered in that photo—later confirmed via several, rather curious, minutes in the mirror—was what happens when I allow my grin to go wide: my own oh-so-chubby cheeks (I’m a 35-year-old baby fat hoarder), peeking out at me, from the inside of my smile. A quiet “oh,” and a relaxing of my shoulders—it was, if you’ll forgive the mush, one of those rare moments where you see the world, yourself, a little clearer and it turns out, it was a little bit more beautiful than you’d led yourself to believe.

It’s a new year, and while I’m not one for resolutions (who’s kidding who—wine and cheese are here to stay), I’ve made a decision and the timing seems suitably apropos. This year, I’m taking my cue from Nico, his boundless joie de vivre beautifully intact, and I will smile wide and with abandon, and see just how many photos we can get of the inside of those cheeks.

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