My final post on this project. In many ways, this project just only feels like a small piece of something … a prelude to my next chapter, or something. Perhaps that’s just me, waxing poetically philosophical (as I tend to), but it’s that part of me that’s writing this post today, because I feel far more sappliy sentimental about completing this than I did when I started out. When I started, I was somewhat afraid of what I’d learn or what I would see day-to-day. I was terrified of confronting the image of me day in and out. If I had learned nothing else in my previous battles, it was that the familiar mirrors were my friend, mirrors that belonged to others (especially large department stores) were the enemy, and cameras were never, ever to be trusted.
Aside from still questioning the lighting techniques employed by the greater shopping venues of my travels, I’ve learned a lot of things–first among them is being on the lens side of a camera can have its downsides, but the reality is that it isn’t so bad. Even supermodels hate photos of themselves sometimes, and you know what–it’s ok. I don’t think that’s something anyone has ever said before…at least not that I’ve heard, so I’m telling you now: It’s ok to not like a photo of yourself. The key here is “a photo” and one of the things I’ve had to answer is — is it the photo or something else I’m seeing? Undoubtedly, I will have to answer this multiple times as life goes on, but accepting this has made a world of difference. Words cannot begin to describe.
A couple of other things I’ve learned/accepted over time:
- Smile. Always. Even when it is really hard, or you don’t feel like it. Smiling is the key to turning things around. Maybe it isn’t an immediate fix-all, but it is a start. I stumbled upon this almost accidentally because I noticed quickly the photos of myself I liked best were the ones where I was smiling…. and even when I’d had a particularly bad day, it always seemed to get a little better if I smiled for just the camera. After a while, smiling became something of a habit. I don’t run around smiling like a loopy idiot, but I do employ that technique more than not… and you know what? It works wonders on other people, too. One of the cashiers at a place I frequent commented to me a few months back, “I like it when you come through my line because you always smile.” That was a pretty powerful message.
- When all else fails, stick with your best angle. I have a friend who will sometimes joke on Facebook that all his pictures are taken from his good side, and best angle… and so part of the credit for this one comes from him (let’s just see if he reads my blog). But the truth is, if something works, go for it. I did a lot of experimentation with lights, angles, times of day, yadda yadda yadda–if I hadn’t, I’d have been bored out of my mind–but when it came down to it, I learned that sometimes, the best light (or angle) is the one you’re most comfortable in–it gives you the courage to try something new when you know you have a back up!
- Embrace the quirks. Part of accepting and loving ourselves is the ability to own up and embrace who and what we are, perceived imperfections and all. It’s what makes us unique individuals.
- Dance more often. How can you learn this from taking pictures, you might justifiably ask? Because there were moments when I knew I had to take a picture and I was so incredibly bored of the notion that I had to DO something… I turned on some fun music and that lead to dancing around a bit, which in turn lead to whenever I was feeling bored, or frustrated, I danced just to break up the moment and feel a little more alive than I had before. Endorphins can do that.
- Finally, you look better, even in photos, when you do something better. Kindness matters.
And so with that, I end this portion of the show. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I’m sure I’ll think of something just as challenging in the near future to work on. Mahalo.