Yesterday I had the bright idea to let Richard try to take some pictures of me so I’d have something to put on my website or a new profile pic or both. I was feeling a bit sassy after losing a few pounds and thought, “Why not?”
With my new Laura Mercier foundation and some fresh curls in my hair, we set out for a park I’d been wanting to scout for photo shoots. The day was gorgeous and we essentially had the area to ourselves. My self consciousness would be minimized. Slightly.
Awkwardly, I posed. Every lesson I’d ever learned from fashion magazines about how to turn my shoulders or tilt my head or turn to my good side flooded my mind. The harder I tried to look like a natural, the more stilted and goofy I became. It seems that as soon as a camera is placed in front of me, I forget how to smile. It’s pretty much Macy’s Law. Just like the law that states only when I’m looking my absolute, pajamas all day worst will I see 14 people I know in the grocery store.
We plodded through more poses and finally I asked Richard to let me take pictures of him. Admittedly, I feel far more comfortable behind the lens than in front.
When we finally got home and I was able to view the images we’d shot, I was initially shocked. First of all, I didn’t look near as thin as I’ve been feeling lately. I had double chins that had double chins. My gray roots lined my scalp like a ribbon of highway. And the wrinkles. Can anyone say Oil of O-M-G! Mark Twain says “Wrinkles merely indicate where smiles have been,” and if that is the case, I might very well be the happiest person alive.
Mostly, I just saw how much older I’m looking these days.
I quickly began editing the pictures. Smudge this wrinkle, blend this chin, cover the gray. The results were impressive, but there was this gnawing feeling of it not being the true me in the image.
One of my last blogs was about encouraging moms to let themselves be photographed, to be IN the pictures instead of on the other side of the camera, to let go of their insecurities and fears of not being enough. And yet here I was, modifying my version of what I’d preached and adjusting things to fit my agenda. It was as if I was saying to myself…”Yes, you SHOULD be in the pictures, but ONLY if you look young enough, thin enough, and pretty enough.”
The thing is, try as I might, I can’t remember when JUST BEING ME was enough. I recall the day in Kindergarten when our class was taking a field trip to say the Pledge of Allegiance on the local tv station. All of the other little girls showed up in dresses with pig tails and braids while I forgot and wore jeans, a ratty t shirt and my hair plain and straight. Just being me that day didn’t feel so good. Unfortunately, there are countless days and months and decades where that feeling just permeated my soul.
And it’s tiring.
I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of worrying and always falling short. The imaginary bar I’ve set for myself is just that. Imaginary.
I’m not saying I am giving up on looking healthy and nice, but what I do plan to do is go easy on myself and stop being my worst critic. I have lived and am living quite the life. It’s full of twists and turns, many uphill climbs and exhilarating drops. But it’s the only life I have here and I don’t want to spend it hating on myself for this reason or that.
I’ll still be awkward in front of the camera and my smile will probably do that weird one side up, one side down thing. The wrinkles are there for now (Botox is just so tempting) and the gray is going to get covered for a few more years, but as long as I feel like I’m enough, that’s going to be good enough for me. So, the pictures will go untouched. I left them as they were, wrinkles, chins and gray.
Being okay with just being me is a never ending job. I know. But I’m willing to try.