Selfies as a Self-compassion practice

Vivienne McMaster Nina ManolsonI feel so grateful to have spent some time with Vivienne McMaster this week. She is a phenomenal photographer whose work is devoted to helping women develop self-compassion through self-portraiture.

Her work deeply resonated with me because I hear so many women (including myself!) say….I don’t like that picture of me!

  • I notice women as they age post fewer and fewer pictures of themselves.
  • I notice that women who live in bigger bodies often hide behind their kids in pictures.
  • I notice women of all ages criticizing pictures of themselves.

I really understand that and I’m with you!

That’s why when Vivienne invited me to use selfies as a tool to develop self-compassion I jumped in with both feet! Literally…that was the first picture I took of myself…I looked down and snapped both my feet!


Looking at ourselves with kindness and with self-compassion takes practice, and why not use the camera that’s always in your hand to practice.

Nina Manolson MA NinaManolson.comI’m starting to do it on Instagram. I’ll be posting pics that evoke self-compassion and self-nourishment with the intention of deepening my inner-kindness and inspiring others to do the same. I hope you’ll join me here.

Vivienne taught me some fantastic tips that I want to share with you. They made taking pics easier, more approachable, more fun and amazingly…they made my photos better!

Here are the 5 tips:

#1 Take a breath before you snap a pic. We tend to hold our breath when we hold a pose and it makes us look static.

#2  Use the timer function on your camera (it’s on all the iPhones) and delay the pic by 3 seconds to give yourself time to settle and relax. (This one made a HUGE difference for me!)

#3  Set the timer for a 10 second delay so that you can set your camera down and step further away from it. You can avoid the arm-reach-look that way.

#4  Play! Don’t always go for the glamour shot. Experiment with different angles, moods, parts of your body, poses. No-one has to see these pics. You can keep them totally private and let them be a personal exploration.

#5 Take lots of pics! A famous photographer once said to my mother “The difference between a good photographer and great photographer is how many pictures they take and how many they are willing to trash.” So takes lots of pics and don’t expect them all to be fabulous.

Seeing yourself over and over gives you the opportunity to get to know YOU – YOUR body – as it is right NOW! It let’s you get body-current. It also lets you see ALL of you. Often when looking at pictures of ourselves, we focus on the part of us that we don’t like. Taking pic after pic (and not all of them will be good – I’ve trashed many!) allows you to widen the lens on yourself and see yourself more holistically.

Another powerful aspect of taking pics of yourself is that YOU get to define how you want to be seen. You get to experiment with what parts of your body, psyche and soul you want to be seen.

We are in a fascinating time in history where women have the opportunity of choosing how they want to be portrayed versus having the media do all of the image-making.

So pick up your camera, explore your identity, and deepen your self-compassion.

And you won’t be the only one! I’ll be doing it right here.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Nina Manolson, MA, CHC, certified Health Coach and Psychology of Eating Coach believes that every woman deserves to feel good in her own body. She helps women create a healthy and positive relationship with their food and body so they can love their body and life!  She’s the founder of and 

She helps busy women look and feel their best. She specializes in working with women over 40 who have tried other diets and approaches but are still struggling with their body and food. She helps women step into a new wellness paradigm that makes self-care real and do-able and turns it into sustainable healthy habits that

She’s the author of “Feed Your Kids Well In A World That Doesn’t: an everyday guide to make healthy food happen in your home and beyond”. She’s also the recipient of the prestigious Health Leadership Award from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

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