Dysmorphia

October 15, 2011

Soooooo…I’m doing a boudoir shoot. Very soon. I am two parts trepidatious and one part very excited.

This is a tricky thing to talk about on the internets, but I’m going to do it anyway, because I think it’s better to say it than to treat it like a big elephant (heh) that no one will acknowledge.

I’m a little bit nervous about baring some skin for photos. Thing is, I’m not all that hyper-modest in general. Bodies aren’t something to be ashamed of and they are beautiful and healthy in all kinds of shapes and sizes and the sooner we all get around to cutting it out with the ranking them in terms of acceptable levels of thinness, we’ll all be a lot happier and healthier.

Here’s the thing. I think I’m pretty attractive. Yes, I said it. I’m a lady with decent self-esteem when it comes to how I look. I like the way I look. I have a nice smile, pretty eyes, great tits. On an average day, I don’t wear any makeup, because I think I look just fine without it thankyouverymuch (though I do enjoy putting a little on for special occasions, just because it makes me feel indulgent). I don’t spend a hell of a lot of time looking in the mirror.

Pretty Lady by Lisa G.

So when I see myself in photos, still wearing 25 of the 40 extra pounds that I packed on while writing my dissertation and self-medicating the stress of that process with far too much pasta and booze, I’m always a little surprised. Is that what I really look like? Because it’s not how I picture myself in my head, and it’s not what I see when I look in the mirror.

Hmmm. So now I’m confronted with a body that I don’t really recognize, and the fact that maybe I’m not so unprejudiced about fatness as I thought. There are certainly times when I’m a bit frustrated with how fast that weight went on, and how slow and stubborn it is about coming off. I’d like to say that it’s not about meeting the Beauty2K-compliant standard of thin (I’m not even going to try chasing that one). I’d like to say that it’s really only about feeling annoyed that my climbing harness doesn’t fit and I really don’t want to buy a new one, dammit. It is certainly that, and it’s also that the extra pounds sometimes throw me off balance when I’m doing the things I like to do – sort of like wearing my shoes on the wrong feet. My body doesn’t fit me right now they way I am used to it fitting, and that’s frustrating. But that’s not all – I’m not gonna lie, there are days when the self-esteem isn’t so bouyant, and I’m not feeling quite so galvanized against the cultural soup of body-policing, and I feel kind of down about how I look in my clothes (I blame the patriarchy). Which makes me a weeeeee bit nervous about how I’m going to feel in various states of undress. But hiding my body behind clothes is sort of not the point of this whole thing.

So, while I can say with total honesty that I don’t judge other people based on their size, I struggle to hold myself to the same standard (don’t revoke my feminist card yet, I’m working on it). And it makes me a little anxious about preserving this body in images, especially supposed-to-be-sexy images.

Illumination by Colette Calascione

But here’s what makes it OK. First, the soon-to-be-mister thinks I look fucking hot and the sexxxaaay pictures are for me and him, really. Second, the lovely Lauren* is shooting. Have you seen her photos!?!? (Also, check out her boudoir portfolio – it’s like no boudoir I’ve ever seen.) What I love most about Lauren’s photos (there are so many things to love) is that you see people, not bodies, in them. She has an incredible knack for capturing people’s emotions, their humanity, and it totally eclipses any silly fixations on things we usually see of ourselves in photos. Lastly, as a good friend’s mom is wont to say in response to someone balking at a difficult/scary/uncomfortable prospect, “If it isn’t illegal, immoral, or dangerous, it’s probably good for you.” Smart lady.

So now I’m only one part trepidatious and two parts excited. It’ll be an adventure.

*Incidentally, Lauren is the first commenter here on my blog – yay, Lauren! I fell in love with her photos right after we got engaged and before we’d even decided where to hold the wedding. A friend had pointed me to Offbeat Bride in order to prevent me getting sucked into the WIC, where I saw Lauren’s work, and thought, “hmmm, maybe it would be worth holding the wedding here in Texas so she could shoot it” despite the fact that we never had any intention of getting married in Texas – it had to be home, or Scotland. Via Lauren’s site, I found APW, which is where I spend most of my online wedding time these days. And then, AND THEN, Lauren announced that she was moving to Scotland and setting up her wedding photography business there, and I knew it was meant to be. So we booked her, and she offered not just her photography services but advice and commiseration on the bureaucracy involved in moving to Scotland as a US citizen (which we still plan to do as soon as we can both find jobs there).  Ergo, she is awesome. And everyone lived happily ever after. The end. (She probably had no idea until just now that I’ve been blog stalking her for so long.)

4 Responses to “Dysmorphia”

  1. Lauren said

    Awww. I’m actually about to write a post about this kind of stuff too. I’ve just been trying to wrap my mind about exactly what I want to say. This makes me even more excited for your boudoir shoot. I’ve been thinking about how to do it right. E-mails coming soon.

    • Magpie said

      Oooh, I am so looking forward to what you have to say. And after writing this, I am rather more looking forward to the shoot as well. :) Helps to get my thoughts all sorted out ahead of time, you know?

  2. Lauren said

    I totes posed nude and that’s also how i fell in love with kamel… since he was the photographer (yes, this is kind of a secret, yes I’m talking about it online… whatever). You’re not interested with falling in love with your photographer – obviously – but the thing is, it’s super liberating. And you’re going to LOVE IT. with capital letters.

    I loved it so much I now want to be the model for an art class… I’m just not totally certain how to do it….

    anyways, I digress.

    Love. Liberating. Capital Letters. That is all.

    • Magpie said

      Yowza! That is one hot “how we met” story! (Ours is way more geeky than hot.)

      I am definitely looking forward to it – I don’t know that I’m comfortable with baring it all, but baring a lot will be a challenge, and yes, I think, liberating – thanks for chiming in on that, it makes me even more excited!

      (PS – welcome to the blog! I now have TWO whole commenters…both Laurens. Perhaps I should change the name to “Ramblings Read by Laurens” or something.)

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