I recently finished a shoot with the vivacious and fantastic Isabel. I’m glad that I went through with it, as she was very patient with me while I sorted out some stuff internally.
Being my first shoot in well over a year, this was a special yet nerve-wracking event for me. I was being shown the city, getting to know a new friend as well as having photos taken of me in what I would not consider my most natural or even comfortable state.
10 July, San Francisco
Maybe you would not know it to look at the photos, but I struggled more with being presented in these ways than having my picture taken (having my photo taken is one fear down after several years of practice)! Isabel provided most of the wardrobe and I approved it before putting it on. The point was to further challenge myself to take up space in something other than my usual t-shirt and jeans, to tap into my femme side.
No matter what your goals are while photographing or being photographed, flexibility and being in a somewhat relaxed state is essential. I wanted to thank Isabel for making sure that no matter my endeavours, I always felt safe and in relatively good spirits.
When one of the last guys with camera I worked with told me that in editing the photos he’d done he’d taken the liberty of softening the areas where my stretch marks were I was almost horrified, but not for the reason(s) one might think.
It surprised even me: I was almost horrified because the immediate reaction to my stretch marks on his (and likely most folks’) part was to hide them. I found that I didn’t really want that, but did not end up protesting the action.
It may have to do with the fact that I have only recently acquired these, perhaps even grown used to them by now.
I never dreamed I could gain weight, let alone have stretch marks.
Before I moved to Seattle I was ~three sizes smaller, unhealthy in fact, and not eating very well at all. Several years prior in high school I was quite honestly malnourished, anorexic. I hid myself in the baggiest clothes imaginable.
These days I have a wee bit of a tummy. It happened gradually, as my availability and quality of food improved in my coming up northwest.
Some days I’m not sure how to feel about that. I rummage through my clothing, frustrated, late for something, exhausted. Most of my clothes are made with tinier, flatter girls in mind, so parts of me give garments rounded shapes.
I can work it, though. I do. I watch so many others around me become positively radiant in the ways they carry themselves — people I don’t know, people I do. It gives me something to look forward to. It makes me smile.
With this, some other things must change, unfortunately.
A good number of the people I’d like to shoot with have size requirements; a woman in Portland can’t (or won’t) shoot any females over size 6, and I don’t think I’ll ever be that again. I still continue to admire her work.
I have to usually make a point of asking photographers if they have limits to save us both the hassle of having to cancel appointments later.
I have realised that around the double digit dress size is usually when cute clothes become harder to find and more expensive, and when demand wanes.
I’m past the point of being broken up about it. Luckily I’ve encountered some who are willing to take me on, and even one who insisted he wanted to work with me as I am. It’s for the chance to have more of those cases that keep me pressing on.
When things seem really awful and I discover that I’ve yet to shake the ‘skinny is the only shape that is worthwhile and appealing’ mindset, I remember precious moments of being silly with my friend Jamie. We grab our bellies, move them about, and have a good laugh.
The growth represents to me a graduation of sorts, from a lack of regard for myself to living a rich, more fulfilled life. I welcome it.
Beauty is encompassed in a number of diverse houses, and we should spend more time celebrating that instead of building a box round a few prim blocks.