Bare it All
I think we could all use some good vibes today, so here’s a post that has absolutely nothing to do with the election or candidates, we’s is gonna’ talk about butts, feelings and bodies. Here’s one way I found to become just a tad bit more confident with mine, allllls of them, my butt, my body, and my feelings.
It’s safe to say, women do the things we do when it comes to beauty for other people. We do our hair, we puts the lipstick on the lips, and wear uncomfortable shoes not for our own benefit. I know I did it all because that was what was expected of me. The world told me I owed it my “pretty.”
I came to a place in my life that despite all those measures to make myself attractive, I still wasn’t “feeling it,” about myself. I felt too many things and not enough other things; too short, too plump, too curly, too fair, not skinny enough, not flawless enough, not desired enough.
Enough was enough, was enough.
So, I did as I often did and decided to find a fix for the 99th “problem” I faced. I read books, I watched videos, all telling me I was fabulous and awesome and surprise, enough. But for me, I also thought, well, I’m NOT enough just yet. Every artist truly believes they can always add one more word, one more paint stroke, one more note to create that perfect place of beauty and completion. I think the day you stop striving to become more than you were, is the day you can go ahead and just resign yourself to mediocrity. So I continued the journey to make myself the best version of who I already was.
There was relief though, about where I was starting at. One thing I read over and over again, specifically by the fabulous Jes Baker, blogger of The Militant Baker, was the idea that you should take photos of yourself. Take amazingly lit selfies, take photos of yourself in crappy light, take photos of yourself in beautifully elegant poses, take photos of yourself sitting down with all your glorious rolls, take all the selfies. In looking at myself in all manner of ways, I learned to see it all as me. I was both “pretty” and awkward, because hey, I’m a person, I’m a real live woman. (To read Jes’s story that kicked the whole thing off, click here.)
I took the photo thing a step further, though.
I was in Afghanistan at the time. Even though I loved the simplicity of wearing the same uniform day after day for eight months, I was ready to girly it up. So I booked a full on glamour shoot for when I returned home to Indiana. Once I made it home I set to preparing for it like I would learning a sport or anything else I decide to do. I watched videos of how to pose, countless amounts of videos. I researched what I should bring to the shoot. I shopped for “gear,” i.e. fancy shoes and “lounge wear” that didn’t include mu mu’s. I did a little sports psychology on myself. You know, that whole thing where athletes are told to imagine themselves performing and the result is almost as good as if they’d actually practiced. Obviously I’m not an athlete by any means, so I threw in some actual practice in front of the mirror, feeling mostly ridiculous, but often times a switch clicked and I felt sexy. Bam! Fake it ‘til you make it girls.
The day came and I was a mess. I had met with the photographer one other time to talk about the session, but she was kind and made me very comfortable. She told me stories about other women who had come through her studio. She once had a woman who had a mastectomy and went through with the shoot with a glorious smile and sassy attitude. Now that’s a hero.
Look ladies, that shit wasn’t cheap, I’m not going to lie, but I decided long ago, I don’t have to explain my purchasing decisions (or anything else for that matter) to anyone but myself. I paid for digital prints, as well as a photo album. For me, this was something I’d cherish forever. When I’m old and wrinkly and still rocking big hair, I’ll be able to look at the photos and remember where I came from. For most of my life, whenever a camera came out, I’d duck and cover, telling the person taking the photo how fat I looked. I hated having photos taken of myself. No more. (author’s note: I DID get a discount because I’d shared the studio’s Facebook page on mine – yay for free advertising right!).
I changed into a decadent silky robe provided, which was good, because the one I brought had a coffee stain on it. Two gorgeous ladies did my hair and makeup and pampered me as I sat in the studio. It was warm and sunny that day thankfully. I worked worked worked worked worked that camera a la Rihanna. I rolled around on a bed and strutted around in heels, all the while, Tina, the photog telling me how hot I was. The only thing missing was a jet engine fan to blow my hair around.
A few weeks later I received the digital prints in my email. I was terrified to open the attachments. What if I hated all of the photos? Guess what happened. I didn’t hate them. I loved them.
WHO IS THAT WHOOHMAN? I asked myself. It was Laura Lynn Bonano, and she was hot.
A lot of women get flack for taking selfies. I’ve been there too, judged and tsk tsk’ed other women who post photos of themselves. I almost didn’t even write this post for fear of what people would think of me. I imagined them thinking, “Who does she think she is, she’s not hot, she’s ridiculous, she’s vain, she’s full of herself, that’s inappropriate, she shouldn’t share those photos online.”
Then I remembered I don’t care.
Listen very carefully,
There.is.nothing.wrong.with.a.woman.who.thinks.she.is.beautiful. No matter what. The world doesn’t get to tell her otherwise, and if it does, she’s under no obligation to convince it otherwise.
This wasn’t about beauty anyways, it WAS about being able to look straight into that camera lens and say, I’m here.
I didn’t love every photo. I looked at some and thought, “crap, there’s a roll under my arm in that one.” Then I remembered what Ms. Baker said. I changed how I felt about the “unflattering” photos. There is inherently nothing wrong with a layer of fat. It’s just fat, fat I could change if I wanted to give up bread forever. I’m not going to by the way. Bread is life.
My photo book finally came and I can say without a doubt, I’m glad I did it. It is for me, when for so long I did everything for others. So, my hope in sharing this is not to show you how hot I am. I’m sharing this story so you, you amazing ladies, can see that this whole beauty thing is just an illusion, you knew that anyways. The photos are retouched and manipulated. I needed to see these “perfect” images first, so I could bare real ones.
So, next time, I will do it differently. I will insist on eyeliner thicker than my thighs, poses that feel a bit more natural, and bigger and curlier hair than imaginable.