Pictures Can Be Deceiving

Before you read further, take a moment to scroll through the pictures below.

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Now that you’ve completed my small task, please, continue reading.


Photographs can be deceiving. It is easy to look at a picture and simply assume. We often jump to the conclusions based off of what we see.

From an outsider’s perspective, you might see a teenage girl above. One who is enjoying memories with her friends and living her life.

There may be a struggle here or there, but nothing too detrimental.

But what we see is not always the truth. Nowadays, there is plenty of photo deception in the media and it is hard to tell what is actual reality.

There is also so much of someone’s story hidden behind that photograph. Something we as onlookers cannot always see.

Below, I included the photographs you saw above with captions, giving you some insight into the story behind each picture.

Why I did something, thoughts I had while looking at the picture, things that happened prior to it being taken.

Regardless of what your impression was from the collection of pictures, captionless, above I urge you to take the time to read each and everyone below.

A picture can tell a thousand words but a few words can change its story.


This is one of the first pictures I took when my battle with an eating disorder began.
I thought I looked fat.


Prior to this party, I cried for hours due to the way I (thought I) looked in my costume.


While at a concert with friends, I had to go sit in the hallway because I was overwhelmed by the scene and didn’t even have the energy to stand.


My mom snapped a picture of me at the beach and as mad as I was, I couldn’t stop staring.
I picked myself apart for hours eventually leading to a puddle of tears.


While babysitting one night, I felt an immense amount of guilt for the damage I had done to my body. I feared that one day I would never be able to have a child of my own.


After getting my wisdom teeth removed, I used the surgery as an excuse to restrict in an attempt to lose weight.
Nobody seemed suspicious.


This photo was taken right after my mom sat with me and made me eat a banana. I don’t often take pictures of me crying as I attempt to hide my struggles and even shame myself for my own emotions.


I had a panic attack two hours before this was taken.


Here I am, wide awake, at four in the morning because I was so depressed I couldn’t sleep.


I stood in the hallway at this party and let my clothes hang off my body while I was drunk out of my mind.
I did so partly in order to feel some sliver of self-confidence by seeking compliments from others.
Another part of me didn’t give two sh*ts about anything at all.


I wish I would have allowed myself to eat this back then. But I didn’t. I pretended I did and took a picture of myself with my friend’s food.

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I got blackout drunk and threw myself at boys who didn’t care about me because I couldn’t muster up an ounce of self-respect in order not to.


Here I am pictured in my pajamas, my frequent choice of clothing.
Sometimes it is hard to get dressed.


I idolized this picture and hated it at the same time.
I stared at it for hours.
At first, I jumped up and down when I saw it because I thought, finally, I looked thin.
Shortly after I decided I needed to lose more weight.

Version 2

I am great at deception. This is something I would often do in order to prove to friends and family that I took my medication.
I didn’t take this.

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I have very vivid memories from around this time. This was the first time I had left the house in a few weeks, aside from class, due to my depression and anxiety.


Here I am, in treatment, trying to be “normal”.
I hadn’t eaten anything substantial in days and could barely leave my bed.


Finally, a more positive note. This was taken when I went out to dinner with my family and actually ate the food.
I enjoyed the taste and didn’t completely pick myself apart after I saw this photo.

You can’t tell what someone is going through simply based off of photographs. You simply just don’t know the thoughts, feelings, or emotions that are hidden behind them.

Most of the time I paint a pretty picture, making it appear as though I have my life together.

But there is so much more behind that photograph.

I can plaster a smile on my face but be screaming for help on the inside.


Before you jump to conclusions and make assumptions, first ask yourself: is there more hidden behind this picture that I’m not seeing?


As you know, I love feedback. (I’m not sure if you can upload pictures in the comments but if you can feel free to post pictures with an honest caption below. If not, I would appreciate an email with them.) Let me know your thoughts and feelings below.


11 thoughts

  1. You are so right. I scroll through Instagram, thinking how great everyone is at looking happy, and I wonder the “back-story”. Life is messy, painful, and beautiful, and we tend to present a very distorted picture to the world, especially with social media. Thanks for your transparency.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is so powerful. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through these struggles. You’re so right though. Pictures can be deceiving. Everybody has struggles, some bigger than others, but usually pictures don’t paint that picture. Thank you for sharing your heart and pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This post is amazing. So powerful and thought provoking. I know I often wonder what’s going on in a particular photo at times but at times I’m also guilty of assuming that because someone’s photos look happy means their life is easier and that’s not always, or even usually, right. I’d love to share this post in a future link share if that’s alright with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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