|The ever irreverent Man Repeller|
A few days ago, I posted about cutting myself some slack on trying to do What I Wore (WIW) shots. I mentioned that I'm often feeling that I don't "look right" in what I'm wearing in those pictures, and wanted to a) understand it better myself and b) explain a bit.
First of all, well yes, on the surface it's about weight and body type. Growing up, I learned that there was one "right" way to look in one's clothes, and that meant straight and thin. My mother, who struggled with weight herself, cast a critical eye on every garment I tried on and filtered the judgement through the lens of "does it make you look fatter or thinner?" Looking thinner was all that mattered. It's been a real challenge to learn to see myself without that filter, and sometimes I can't.
Would I feel that I look better in clothes if I were actually thinner? Probably (depending on your definition of "better"). My "thin" looks more like this:
But how my own body measures up to some imagined (and impossible-for-me) ideal isn't truly the root source of my discomfort. So what's at work here?
First, I'm still really out of my element posing for the camera, trying to get the most flattering angle that still shows outfit details, getting the facial expression just right, trying to smile...well honestly I just feel silly. I'm fine with doing a quick iphone snap in the mirror on my way out the door or posing for vacation snapshots, but being the subject of my own photo shoot wakes up that old "who do you think you are?" critical voice in my head. And it requires carving out a sizable chunk of time to arrange the backdrop, set up, get dressed, shoot, change, shoot, etc., which adds to my sense of self-consciousness about the whole endeavor.
And mostly, I'm realizing that I've been trying too hard to wear more "interesting" ensembles motivated by potential WIW posts, and ultimately mucking up my own style out of fear of being "boring" or drab. Put me in jeans, a jacket and a pair of pointy toe pumps or boots (low heel, natch!) and I'm smack in the middle of my Style Sweet Spot. The bottom line is that I've fallen victim to over-thinking and over-styling (for me), and I can see it in my own pictures, even if others can't. Conversely, when I hit that Style Sweet Spot, I feel great in what I'm wearing, whether or not it photographs well, whether or not it's conventionally flattering or "interesting" or "in style." All the self-consciousness and body insecurity drops away.
The truth is, I never started out to have a What I Wore type style blog. I was more interested in writing more generally about style, lifestyle, attitudes, ageing and living our best lives after 50. I'm all for visibility and promoting images of women who aren't young, or airbrushed or model-thin, and applaud those style bloggers who are representing us so fabulously. I think it's good for us and good for younger women to see that style doesn't stop after age 40 or size 6. And when it feels right and organic and fun to do so, I'll happily participate.
Are you comfortable in front of the lens? Did it come naturally or was it something you learned?