Sunday, January 10, 2016

L'Oreal was right! I am worth it...right?

Spreading my wings as a writer has been a labor of love. It's sometimes scary to face possible rejection (and I get plenty of it!) but the idea of sharing my words and art keeps me going. It's also safe- I am behind the paper and computer screen and even when everyone can see my insides, nobody can see my outsides. Except when the publications you write for ask for a head shot to use with your bio. That'll thwart your plans for sure.

I had been using a selfie I took in our bathroom. It was snapped after a night out with my friend Mary Beth and her husband. The humidity left my hair in curls and days at the pool with PJ left my skin tanned (I know, I know. The sun is bad, m'kay?). I saw adequate when I looked in the mirror, and knowing that I needed a "head shot" for a piece that had been accepted to an online magazine, I snapped the selfie. 

As writing opportunities have come my way, I have trotted out that selfie for any bios that I needed to turn in. I would often see lovely women, with more polished head shots, floating about my own picture on author bio pages. I would think fleetingly that I should have a better picture- I'll set up a shoot after I lose a few pounds. After I learn to use moisturizer and my skin looks better. When I find someone who is a Photoshop Genius with time to spare. Or, on second thought...the bathroom selfie is fine. 

But, I continued to write and slightly bigger opportunities continued to come and I realized that it was time for a professional picture. It didn't matter what I looked like. Fat body, dry skin be dammed, I needed whatever turd I thought I saw in the mirror polished. Even if the subject is weird looking, there are bathroom selfies and there are professional photographs. So, I enlisted the help of a photographer friend and showed up fifteen minutes late because make-up is confusing, okay? 

We walked around town, Tracey snapping away. The scene was lovely and the light was absolutely gorgeous, and all I could think about was whether or not I needed to position my head a certain way or if Tracey could Photoshop out my chins after. The last time I had professional pictures taken was on my wedding day, a day I was aglow in love and happiness and about thirty pounds lighter. On this day, I wasn't glowing. I enjoyed the company and I enjoyed the day and I enjoyed the sweet little spots in my town Tracey chose for the shoot. The light that morning was absolutely beautiful and I was drinking it in. I had a great time! But I dreaded the receipt of those pictures. I hoped that at least one would be salvageable.

My self-esteem and I have a funny relationship. Actually, it's not funny. It's kind of sad. I know the things I am good at. I am a good writer. I'm not a bad singer. I'm a pretty good mom. I am a better than average friend and I am a phenomenal jump roper. But always, always, the mirror has been my nemesis. It's not even due to an inordinate amount of bullying. Early on, I developed my own idea of beauty and just didn't see it in myself. I went for a long time thinking that it didn't have an effect on me but, like most life lessons I have mastered, it has taken me until nearly 40 to realize the damage I was doing to myself. I am a sloppy dresser. I don't take care of my body. And in the name of all things holy do NOT give me a compliment because I just can not handle it. I can say I don't "care" about clothes and can't "do" makeup and love cake and hate running. But if I want to be as honest as humanly possible, it's time to just say it:

I just don't give enough of a shit about myself.

This epiphany was spurned by two things. One was posing for these pictures, and the other was writing about how I need to depend on myself to find happiness. If I need to look to myself to find joy, than doesn't that mean that I need to think I'm worth joy in the first place? Okay. So I don't think I'm attractive. What if I treated myself as if I was? If I act like I have worth, maybe I'll actually believe it? I don't know. This is all very new and, I imagine, will be quite a process. But I didn't watch every episode of "What Not to Wear" and come away with nothing. There's something to this treating yourself like you are worth a shit stuff. Thus sayeth Stacey and Clinton, forever and ever, amen.

So, anyway. Back to the pictures. I got a message from Tracey that they were done and delivered to my inbox, where I let them sit for a few hours because, of course I did. But then I finally opened them up, and they were...not bad.



I tried to ignore the extra chin and eye bags and see how lovely the light was, how nice the color in my hair looks, and that I managed to look like I was having fun. My teeth are straight (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and I am smiling. I won't share the full body shots because Jesus, people, I'm not a miracle worker! The non-critical version of Rome wasn't built in a day. But I will keep building and be proud of the face I see on the bio pages when I am published.


"...and when you're beautiful it's a beautiful freakin' day!" 
-Heathers: Original Broadway Soundtrack

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