Just a little camera shy

Some blogging interactions of late have inspired me. The inspiration gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling somewhere deep inside – putting everything together in the form of a few blog posts that would make for entertaining, and in some cases informative, reading leaves me with thoughts and feelings that are a little less warm, and a little more fuzzy. I am trying to train my brain to ‘write better’, so there’s hope.

During one of these interactions, my brain was sent on a thought path involving my profile picture, and how this particular picture came to be. I have to mention that while I have been told that I am quite a photogenic person, I dislike having my picture taken. I think it has to do with the insecurities and relatively low self esteem that I have – both of which are better left to a post all on their own.

This is more of a ‘fun post’ than anything else. There are not really any deep words of wisdom and there’s nothing really informative from an educational point of view. I suppose you could call it more ‘light reading’.
I also have to mention that I am not superficial and in my opinion, inner beauty is what counts. I mention this because this post really has to do with outer beauty in a way.

My current profile picture (which I am considering changing in the next few days because while it suited me to upload it when I first started, I think I’ve outgrown it – there’s a lengthy explanation for my reasoning behind that statement, but suffice to say, it might be time for a change) was one of a few that I had taken in a modelling shoot three years ago. I know. A modelling shoot, but I dislike having my picture taken? There’s a great example of contradiction right there! But here’s the story that goes with the ‘modelling shoot’:

A couple of months prior to this modelling shoot, my self esteem had taken another somewhat large knock. I was living my life minute-by-minute, and hour-by-hour; placing check marks on the calendar for each day I got through. A friend sent me an email, with a link to an article, wherein a gentleman was requesting some ‘volunteers’ to be photographed as part of building his portfolio. Apparently he had retired from his career in insurance, and was now building a business that reflected his true passion- photography. He would even pay these volunteers for their time – it wasn’t the big bucks you hear about, but every bit counts when you’re a single mom. My friend had commented in her email regarding the link, “Maybe you should volunteer. We all know they edit the pictures etc. but it might show you yourself in a different light – help you see the beauty we all see – except we see it on the outside and the inside. Please consider giving it a try.”

It took me a week to finally call the man with my list of questions. Of course my first question was, “What size are you looking for?”
Because when I think of a model, I think of a Victoria’s Secret model – and there’s now a picture making its rounds on Facebook stating that ‘the Secret is that the Victoria’s Secret girls are always hungry’. Since I am never hungry, I had to ask him what he was looking for. Please don’t get me wrong. I have the perfect body – I just keep it hidden under layers of fat so that it doesn’t get scratched 😛  😉
According to him, he was looking for all kinds of body, and looks – he explained to me that his portfolio needed to reflect ordinary women too. Satisfied that I could meet that criteria, I moved along and bombarded him with loads of other questions.
I’m inclined to be a ‘safety first’ kind of girl, and when he indicated to me that the photo shoot would take place in the studio at his house, I very nearly just put the phone down – which wouldn’t have helped since I had called him from my landline on his cellphone, which meant he now had my number. (I said I was inclined to be….sometimes I can be stupid.) He assured me though that he had two other ladies who work for him, and would be in the reception area of the studio, and so we wouldn’t be alone – and actually called one of them to chat with me for a bit. (She also emailed me a sneak preview of the website she was busy building for him as proof of the legitimacy.) I still had my reservations, but agreed to meet with him.

I pulled up at a rather fancy-looking house, with an expensive car in the driveway. The insurance business must be good. Nothing creepy yet – so far, so good. The voice that answered the intercom was that of an older woman, who also waited at the door to greet me when I had made my way down the path. She was beautifully dressed, tall and slim. Her eyes were warm, and her smile was too, as she ushered me inside. Still good. The girl I had spoken with on the phone was waiting at her desk, and stood to greet me as I entered the small hallway that had been turned into a form of reception area. She was not tall, but she was slim, and I suddenly felt a little ‘too fleshy’. Her smile was also warm and I began to feel at ease. Great! She led the way to the studio, popped her head in the door to announce me, and then left me there – not before squeezing my arm and telling me I’d be fine though.

Taking a deep breath, I stepped into the small studio. Seated behind a small table was a man who stood when I entered and walked over to shake my hand. I am afraid I am not very good at judging age, but I’d say he was in his mid fifties. He was a medium sized man, with a bit of a beer belly and a balding head. It was the impression he gave off though that caused the thought to jump into my head, “Not good”. After some small talk, the thought was confirmed when he indicated a small door to the side and said, “That’s a small changing room. You can choose a bikini from the ones in the crate there, and get changed. I’ll be waiting.”

You’ll be waiting a long time.

I have been known to wear a bikini – but only for my own personal use – like at home, in my back garden, when the neighbors are all out (in other words, it doesn’t happen often). I do not wear one in public. Ever. My best friend has not even seen me in one. Why ruin a great friendship? As for my children? My son needs to be out too – I couldn’t do that to him. My daughter is still at the age where she’s forgiving – and still believes I am ‘thin and lovely’ (although recently when I had to attend the parent teacher meeting at school, she did ask me to at least re-apply my make up if I wasn’t going to change my clothes)!

My refusal was not taken very well, but it was taken. And so were photographs of me, fully clothed.  He did make a few comments along the lines of, “You’re beautiful, and if you could slip into a bikini and show me what I am really working with, you could have a future in modelling.” I let them slide, laughed them off, and continued being me. Because I’m nice like that. Ha!

He seemed happy enough when I left – maybe because I was leaving? Who knows!

I received the end result via email a few days later, and as I have mentioned the picture in my profile is one of them. And I know I am exposing myself here, but I cried when I saw the pictures. Tears of happiness, and tears from a sad place in a heavy heart. I was astonished at the ‘beauty’ staring back at me in each and every picture. I could not believe that they were pictures of me. I still look back at them occasionally, except now I don’t cry. I just sigh and say to myself, “Ah, I did look beautiful.”
I guess that these fancy editing programs of today truly can work wonders 😉
It’s more important to me to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside….but I also know that I have to accept my outer appearance too. When I am behaving with kindness and love, and speaking words of encouragement and inspiration – then I can look in the mirror and smile at the reflection looking back at me. When I have been moody or rude, or purposely said or done something out of hurt and anger – then I just see an ugly human being. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I don’t see myself as beautiful by any means (and I am not fishing for any compliments here, please) but I know that ‘it is well with my soul’ for now, and that’s enough for me.

I suppose that now this blog post is begging the question, “Well then what do you really look like?” While I admit to the fact that I have now chosen a ‘good’ picture of me to post below, this picture has not been professionally edited, and if you see me in the street, this is probably what I’ll look like – except my long hair is usually tied up in a style similar to my current profile. (And yes, I now wear glasses!)