This story is dedicated to all the young moms out there, who feel like they have lost a little bit of themselves and aren’t happy with the way they “look”.
When I was a young woman in my 30’s, I became an world-class expert at avoiding being photographed. I absolutely hated it. I cringed and felt physically ill whenever I saw myself in pictures, so I stuck behind the camera like glue.
For a lifetime I struggled with weight that fluctuated wildly up and down the same 20 pounds, but after having two babies, my body seemed to take on a mind of its own and it was hell-bent for being f…a…t! I gained well over 60 pounds and it was so painful to see the evidence of my slide into “she’s really let herself go” territory. I worried about what my husband, family and friends thought about me. I worried about what I thought about myself.
Of course everyone saw the weight gain, but the people who mattered didn’t love me any less. Their feelings about me didn’t change, but my feelings changed. I turned into a woman afraid of social situations. I dreaded seeing family and friends. It wasn’t all imagined though. I was protecting myself from a cold world where people say cruel things.
One day, I ran into an old colleague. A salesman who was probably 20 years older than me. We greeted each other and he actually told me that he nearly didn’t recognize me because I had put on so much weight. Can you imagine that? My 52-yr-old self wants a do-over so she can kick his sorry ass, right there in the Safeway. Something like that changes a person.
Years later, I was on a plane with my teenagers heading to Palm Springs. A woman boarded at the last minute and made a scene about getting in to a seat beside me. She told me to trade places with my daughter so that she wouldn’t have to sit beside me (because I was so fat). I told her that it would be a cold day in hell before I would let my daughter sit beside someone like her. I had to call the flight attendant for assistance. They actually stopped the jet on the tarmac, and moved Jane and I to different seats. I’m still peeved that she wasn’t booted off the flight for being drunk/high/ridiculous. It’s at this point that you read about people thanking the bully for motivating them to change, but I’d like to call bullshit on that nonsense.
So, I totally get it when a woman tells me she hates being photographed and that she needs to lose 20 pounds before she steps in front of a camera. I am intimately familiar with that feeling of self-loathing and “I’m not worthy” attitude. I’d love to give the middle finger to all the fools who ever tore a little piece of her heart out.
That’s why glamour photography instantly appealed to me. I want to help every woman like me, who was made to feel “less than”. I want to help them see themselves differently. I want to help them fall a little more in love with themselves.
If I could go back in time and talk to my tender-hearted younger self, I would wrap my arms around her and tell her that she’s a beautiful woman who takes really good care of the people in her life. I would caution her to stop giving away too much of herself to people who aren’t deserving. I’d tell her she’s worthy of existing in photos and being present in her family history. Perhaps most importantly, I’d blow her mind by telling her that when her children become teens, roughly 25 percent of her vocabulary would consist of a magical, feels-really-good-to-say word that starts with “f” and rhymes with shmuck!!!!
Don’t get me wrong. At my age, I still don’t like being overweight–it drives me crazy. I still worry about how my hair looks or whether my clothes are flattering. But it’s sooo much less about what other people think of me, and sooo much more about me enjoying looking good for myself.
I never in a zillion years would have guessed that I’d actually like being photographed. Yeah, you heard me. I love being photographed. I don’t even mind be photographed when I don’t have makeup on and I look like a hot mess. As long as the picture shows me enjoying my life with my family and friends, I’m on board!!!
I want to thank Kym Davidson at Swank Makeup for making my face look so damn good. I also want to give credit to my assistant, Lauren Olson, for taking this freaking amazing picture of me!!! Too much? Ha! I don’t care.
Love…….. Puts the focus on what’s really important ……
Thanks, Tina 🙂
Beautifully said Jennifer…what a brave beautiful soul you are.
Thank you, Yvette 🙂