Yesterday I tackled two fears head-on: I wore shorts in public for the first time in 15 years, and I took a self-portrait.

attempts at self-portraiture

I'm constantly trying to push myself out of my comfort zone when it comes to the camera, but one of the areas where there never seems to be any progress is self-portraits.

See, I hate having my photo taken.

That's why I learned to use a camera. When I got my first real camera, it was manual everything: exposure, focus, film-advancing, and there was no way I could hand it off to someone and take a group photo, so I was always the one behind the camera. When someone says "I hate having my picture taken" I completely understand. Trust me. I know how it feels, and I won't let you look bad.

After about 15 I almost disappear from the family albums, and, as an awkward, pudgy, klutzty teen, that was fine with me. I was surrounded by a ridiculously gorgeous family and every family portrait felt to me like beauty + the Michelin tire guy.

Now, after more than 10 years of hiding behind the lens, focusing on the inherent beauty in others, trying to get them to relax, I still feel awkward when the tables are turned. It doesn't help that my family is still gorgeous, and I married into a family whose beauty is truly breathtaking. Compared to my inlaws, I'm the short pale old one. Compared to my family, I'm the tall plump flat-chested one. And every photo of just me feels like a composite of flaws, and I can't stand to look at them. So I continue to hide, surrounding myself with others in photos, allowing their beauty to distract the eye of the viewer.

I don't think people get this fear, thinking I'm being falsely modest. After all, I overdress all the time, wear hats in public, red lipstick, and heels that make me more than six feet tall. Isn't that sort of attention-grabbing? Well, I am an attention whore. We knew that already. But my best asset is my (usually fun, but sometimes annoyingly hyperactive) personality, and no picture captures that.

As to the lack of shorts in my life, well, remember that awkward pudginess I talked about? I also have my grandmother's knees. Seriously. I'm a firm believer in accenting assets, not highlighting flaws, and my thighs/knees are not an asset by any means. Add to that the fact that my teen years were spent in culottes and below-the-knee skirts, and I don't show my legs in public. Except at the beach. So when I put on shorts yesterday and drove to the grocery store, it was the first time I've worn them in public in about 15 years. This despite the fact that I'm currently within 10 pounds of my all-time heaviest (I think), and was surrounded by healthy, happy, hot teenage girls. Life is too short to stay caged within my fears.

I wore shorts in public today for the first time in 15 years

They tell me that I've grown out of my gangly awkward pudginess, that I'm no longer the ugly duckling, that I've no reason to hide. I don't know if all that is true, but I know one thing: today, I took a picture of myself, by myself, without others to distract from me or a silly face to hide my fears behind. And while my face isn't showing, it's still me. And that's progress. I'll take it.

I don't write this so that people will comment with validation. I write this to share that I too struggle, and I'm pushing past it. I don't know what your struggle is, and it's probably much more serious than mine, but it's a struggle. 15 years, people. I'm getting over it. You can too.


*tiffany* said…
I get it! I hate pictures, too. A lot. :( I didn't know you had a tattoo!!!! You're beautiful, Laura! These pics are so pretty.
{lauryl} said…
if you are fat that i am .... fill in the blank. you look gorgeous. i do understand not liking pictures of yourself- this is how i've come to realize what a difference it makes to have a real PHOTOGRAPHER shoot me. my mother in law is always taking pictures and i always look awful in them. of course, so does everyone else. i feel like such a bitch when i tell my husband to please ask her to quit taking photos of me and videotaping me because i hate it so much. but seriously, if she were a good photographer, i wouldn't mind. anyway, i'm impressed with your self-portraits. that is something i have not managed to figure out. at. all.
JessB said…
My knees are hideously knocked, but after 6 years of living in Phoenix and 2 of living in Texas I'm firmly convinced that life is to HOT to not wear shorts.

We all have insecurities - and I'm sure no one at the grocery store thought twice about your shorts. Rock on girl.
VDOprincess said…
Thanks, girlies, for the words of encouragement. SInce writing this out and hearing other's responses, it's really gotten me thinking more about body image and our expectation of ourselves, and it's all rolling around in my head. I have a feeling we're not done with this yet.
ambika said…
No validation offered (I think you probably know I think you're gorgeous & lovely) since none was asked.

Wonderfully written and wonderful to read. That's all :)

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