When I was younger, I hated having my picture taken. I avoided cameras like the plague. I was shy, yes, but much of my avoidance had to do with bullying – which I endured from about third grade until I finished high school. I was told repeatedly how ugly I was, that I was inferior and unlovable. My self-esteem became so low that, even as a member of various teams in school (dance line and swimming), whenever possible, I hid behind a teammate or turned away when a group picture was taken. I didn’t want to be seen, let alone remembered.
My avoidance of photography endured for many, many years, despite encouragement from others. It was fate, I suppose, that I married a man whose family loves taking a lot of photos. My mother-in-law was lovingly determined to break me of my camera-shy habit. Grudgingly, I obliged; all the while, mentally nit-picking at every little flaw.
As an adult, I spent a great deal of time doing things, at least in part, to prove to myself that I wasn’t what I believed other people saw; a weak, flawed, damaged little girl. I pushed myself to excel and to achieve, academically and professionally. And, I experienced a lot of success…and a lot of fatigue and frustration, and I still wasn’t happy with myself. I still didn’t feel proud or confident. I just kept looking to the next hurdle, the next challenge I needed to face in order to prove my own worth to myself.
It’s only in recent years that I’ve realized how much of my own power I gave over to people who had no real relevance in my life. I realized how much of my own happiness I sacrificed, because no matter how hard I worked at things, I would always find something else I needed to do to prove to myself I am worth the effort.
When I stopped adding qualifiers to my self-acceptance, something wonderful happened; I stopped seeing all the ways I was flawed, and started to see all the ways I was strong, beautiful, and unique. I began to see the power I possessed as a woman and an individual. I began to feel more joy, because I wasn’t proving anything to anyone. I was – finally – simply being me.
I’ve decided that the best way I could celebrate seeing myself through a new lens is to get in front of the camera. I’m currently looking at several boudoir photographers here in the cities to create my portfolio:
Yes, Mr. DeMille, I AM ready for my close-up!