Genuine

So, I did another thing.

I mentioned previously an adventurous date with Oliver.

It actually was a photography appointment. Appointment sounds too professional though, because Oliver is one of my best friends. Date isn’t exactly appropriate, but it was indeed an adventure. It was indeed a thing.

I have a fear of getting my picture taken, see.

Okay, maybe saying it is a fear is a little dramatic, but I’m definitely not a fan of having my picture taken – how about that.

“Yeah, but you post selfies on Facebook,” Sophia countered when I was discussing it with her.

“Yes, but that’s different. I’m in charge of the picture taking. I know what angle I like, I can change how I’m smiling or fix my hair before I take the picture.”

It’s a rare thing for me to come across a picture that someone else took that I like. I always smile too big or am standing in an unflattering way. . . something.

We are our own worst critics.

When I sent out my first batch of submissions, all I had that could even halfway be considered professional were well taken selfies. I cringed a little, because the terms ‘professional’ and ‘selfie’ don’t seem to belong in the same sentence together. I didn’t realize that a picture would be required to go with my words. I thought my words would sell themselves.

Nope. Everyone wanted a fucking picture of me.

A few years ago, Oliver dabbled with starting a photography business, and while he has decided to go down the fashion path instead, he still incorporates his photography into his fashion business by taking photos of people in the clothing he makes. Subsequently, I’ve always loved his photography.

I knew I needed ‘professional’ pictures, but I didn’t know that I necessarily wanted to go to a portrait studio. It felt vain. It felt weird . . . “Please take a picture of me! I’ll pay you!” Ugh. Plus the whole I’m my own worst critic, I don’t like my picture being taken, so on and so forth.

It occurred to me one night while texting Oliver that he did photography, and the wheels started spinning. Who better to do this for me? I’ve known Oliver since I was an awkward teenager, he saw me through my first pregnancy, for fucks sake we wrote a song and sang it on stage at a choir concert once. . . he’s like my fear conquering buddy.

I was feeling overly confident when I broached the topic with him, and after my ego calmed down a little I was like, “Oh fuck my life what did I just go and do???”

What started as an idea for just a couple pictures turned into a couple hour venture though, with me changing tops and modeling the shirt he made and gave to me in the spring for him to post to his clothing line page, Arthur Zane.

I drove to meet Oliver in our hometown, after spending an ungodly amount of time in the bathroom at home getting ready. Generally speaking I can shower and do my hair and make up in under an hour. Saturday I knew I needed to be a little more conscious of what I was doing with myself, knowing it was going to be hot and knowing that I was in fact allowing someone to take my picture, and actually paying them to do so. Even if it was one of my favorite people.

Magically, Oliver eased me into feeling comfortable with him standing in front of me with a camera. I sensed a couple times he faked having to adjust settings so he could get natural photos of me. He joked and made me laugh, made idle conversation . . . he sighed heavily at one point, “you’re doing it again.”

“What’s that?” I asked.

“Your resting bitch face.” I think that when I laughed at his comment is when he took this picture:

We went several places around town – the arboretum, the location of a couple murals in town that I hadn’t had a chance to see in person. He also happened across this little gem of a coffee shop called – get this – Rough Draft and had me set up there like I was working so he could get some ‘working’ photos of me. People stared as they walked by, at the guy hiding in the bushes taking pictures of the lady on her laptop, and I tried to hold my serious working face with this knowledge in my head.

I sat typing nonsense into a word document, drinking a vanilla bourbon flavored iced latte (amazing, in case you’re wondering) and hoping that Oliver was able to catch some flattering photos of me. Despite my unease, despite the fact that my eyes were continually watering, despite the heat. . .

I’m working on stepping outside of my comfort zone. A few years ago I discovered how wonderful it was outside my comfort zones. The world I didn’t know, because I was afraid of what would happen if I did things that I was too shy or too nervous to do. There was a distinct purpose in this particular venture, but there were so many reasons why not to do it screaming in my head. . .

I knew that the reasons were bullshit, and that they were demons whispering that I wasn’t good enough. It was all of the negativity of the past telling me I shouldn’t do this. That I couldn’t do this.

So I went ahead and did it. Because maybe in doing it I could shut the negative voices down a little more. Because maybe in doing it I would gain a little more ground in my quest to conquer the demons that haunt me. Because maybe in doing this I could show someone else that whatever people say you shouldn’t do and can’t do, even if that someone is yourself, you have every right to go on and do just what the fuck you feel like doing.

At the end of the day I was hot, and I was very tired and hungry, with an hour and a half drive ahead of me. As I drove Oliver back to his house to drop him off I told him that if he never needed someone to model his clothes again to by all means get a hold of me. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, especially with one of my oldest and closest friends behind the camera cracking jokes.

I’ve played with this post for several days, writing a little bit here and there as the urge struck. I debated not writing it, but I definitely couldn’t not write about such a wonderful experience. It’s held me back from writing a little bit because I knew if I let it sit in drafts I wouldn’t end up finishing it. It would sit forgotten for years and I’d sit looking at it sometime in the future trying to remember details.

I also knew that part of what held me back from writing it was my own insecurities whispering. . . you’re going to tell people about this?!

Damn straight. And when Oliver asked if he could post the pictures to social media I only hesitated for a second before giving him permission. Because damn it, this is me. I have curves and I’m not a picture perfect model. I’m a mother and a sister and a friend; I’m a writer and a property manager. . . I like food, and I like the occasional alcoholic beverage, and me and exercise aren’t friends. I’m not trying to sell my image, I’m trying to sell my words. If people want to see the woman behind the words, this is what she physically looks like – wide hips and even wider smile, because at the end of the day, she’s a happy person, working towards her dream. Some look at me and think I’m beautiful, and some look at me and think otherwise. Neither opinion matters to me – I’m not here to be physically appealing, I’m here to show the world what genuine looks and sounds like.

I’m proud of conquering this thing. I’m proud that I stood and let Oliver take these pictures and set my self consciousness aside. I’m happy that I could help him promote his business. And I’m proud to share them with the world.

Photos courtesy of J. Schneider, AKA Oliver. 🙂

Published by: A. Elizardo

Single mother to two amazing boys, sister to an inspiration, and the daughter of two opinionated, sarcastic, fun loving individuals that are no longer physically with us. Music, writing, reading, my family - living and gone - are what keep me going as I put on my rose colored glasses and navigate us through this crazy world.

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