The Return of the Bedroom Photoshoot
When I was a teenager, I took a lot of pictures of myself. This was before cell phones so I did it mostly on disposable cameras. How retro. I loved taking my own picture and having my picture taken. This wasn’t because I was arrogant and thought I was beautiful and needed to be captured. I don’t ever remember feeling that way. Most of the time, I was insecure and uncertain about how I looked. All the boys I had crushes on always wanted to be friends which translated to me that I wasn’t pretty enough for them because teenage brains are like that. But I did love taking my picture. Whether I was making a face (usually was) or attempting to have my own Seventeen magazine cover shoot, I would hole up in my bedroom and click away.
It is difficult to remember the last time I enjoyed having my picture taken.
Until recently, I had been shying away from the camera. Or scolding my husband for not knowing the right angle to make me look thinner. Ah, yes, always thinner. I write a lot about my issues with body image and being a former skeleton. It’s been a few years of having more flesh on these bones and I still cringe at times when I see my picture.. I don’t feel how I look most days and it is somehow still a shock to not see my hip bones protruding out from the waist of my jeans.
That all being said, I think it’s coming back.
The other day, I was waiting for my husband to get off work. I had secured the new job and we were having a date for dinner to celebrate. All week, I had mostly stayed at home in comfortable clothes so I put on a bright summer dress and did full makeup. The light was pouring through our windows in its late afternoon soft glow and I felt the familiar desire to take my picture. I’ve become obsessed with portrait mode on my new phone so I set a timer and I positioned myself where the camera would be able to capture me with that feature. I took a few and reviewed them. An odd sensation coursed through me that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I liked them. In fact, I loved them. So I took more. I found a new filter on Instagram and played with that. It wasn’t even one that made me look skinnier; just one that gave more of a vintage feel and paled my skin more (somehow possible) and turned up my red lip. I was feeling myself.
I know this seems like such a simple thing and a silly one as well. But I think a lot of us sat in our bedrooms and took our first selfies when we were growing up. We are curious about our faces and bodies and that’s the time they are changing constantly. The teenage experience is a tricky and volatile one but also one of great joys and triumphs. It’s a point where we learn a lot about ourselves and build a foundation of who we are. Naturally, that all changes as we continue to age but I think my base of who I was as a teenager speaks volumes to who I am today. I was insecure, lonely at times, weird, and curious yet I loved myself. I think as we grow up, we only feel the insecurities and the loneliness and forget to love ourselves alongside all the troubles we carry.
I’ve been struggling hard with loving myself as I am now. This moment for me was a homecoming. You see, I know I post pictures of myself for these blogs. But I cower every time I do it. I hold my breath as I edit them. I close my eyes after I hit the button to post. I do it because I know how it all works: pictures of my face get more interaction. We connect better when we see the person. I’m not out for likes, I’m out for engagement and if I post a picture of myself in front of a pretty wall and I get new readers and fellow writers interested then I can swallow the jagged pill of exposing my greatest insecurities.
Yet this day, this twenty minutes I had to myself where I played around with the timer on my phone, that was different. It wasn’t for engagement. It wasn’t even for my blog. It was for me and only me. I was feeling myself FINALLY after years of being dormant. It’s slowly been creeping back in but it isn’t a constant, not yet. It usually happens when I’m dressed up like the wedding of two dear friends earlier this summer. I felt gorgeous and it showed in every picture. Though I value that feeling and moment, it faded. This was something different; this was something with longevity. Something I had lost long ago and it had returned to me. Something I hope everyone can find again if we remember our little teenage souls and how they loved to take a photograph without knowing how it turned out. Our younger selves trusted the angles, the flash, the Biore nose strips we had been using religiously, and the idea that Leo DiCaprio would fall in love with us once he met us. It was only a matter of time. That level of confidence surrounded by insecurity is something I never thought I’d experience again.
It isn’t fully there and may never be. That late afternoon moment with myself came and went and it took until the next day before I realized how beautiful I felt. It had been a long time since I took photos of myself for myself, for fun, for the joy of seeing how my makeup and hair looked or just because I had time to kill. I missed that girl who lived for those moments. It was good to see her again and I hope she comes around more.