In middle school I was the tallest kid in my year-- definitely taller than all of the girls and stretching higher than most of the boys (they had a couple years to go before their Final Growth Spurt, or, Lee Ann’s Dethroning). I was a stringbean helicopter with braces and glasses. I had to hunch just to hear what everyone was saying.
Nowadays I’m into being tall. I can reach stuff. I bonk my head on those bars in subway trains, but I can also hold onto them without yanking my arm. I don’t ever have to wear heels.
<< I’m 5’11”. My cousin Lee on the left is 6’8”. He wins.
My brother Grant on the right is 5’ 10”.
He was disowned after this was taken for not being close enough to ceilings.
But middle school was rotten, wasn’t it? (I’m picturing 97% of the internet nodding). Those years can bring out your worst insecurities, can make you hyper-analyze, hyper-criticize, and wish you looked like everyone else, whatever that means.
“Don’t look to that side, that side makes you look like a man.”
“Don’t blink, you always blink, why do you always blink, why are you so sensitive to light and spicy foods and criticism?”
“Remember that time that you had a resting jerk face every day?”
“Stop trying to smize, you can’t smize, what even is smizing??”
“Your dad thinks you look like Claire Danes but you actually look like this.”
“Quasimodo called and HE WANTS HIS HUNCH BACK.”
Whoa whoa whoa. Okay. I’m trying to relax. Trying to have a good time here. Now my party’s getting crashed by this guy.
Can anyone else relate?
When clients shares the issues they have with their looks to me (which happens in almost every session), they also often express their worry that they’re “the annoying client.” They’ll say something along the lines of, “I’m not photogenic. I know everyone says that, but for me it’s true. I’m so sorry, I just really can’t stand how my teeth/eyes/face/nose/cheeks/chin looks, and I’m probably the one person that’s causing you tons of trouble because my teeth/eyes/face/nose/cheeks/chin is the worst.”
One time a client expressed that she thought she looked like “a cross between a chipmunk and a beluga whale.” (Chipuga? Belmunk?)
For a lot of people, when the camera focuses on their face, they focus inward on an intense amount of self-criticism.
What I want to state, right here and now, is that you are not the only one. You’re not alone when you think you are un-photogenic, or that a certain aspect of yourself is a huge problem in photos. In fact, you’re part of the vast majority.
But here’s the thing: you will pick apart your appearance far more than anyone else will. Trust me. Sometimes we see ourselves through a fun house mirror of insecurity, and our perceived, warped reflection bears little resemblance to what everyone else sees.
So if you’re nervous about getting your photos taken, how do you slow down your hyper-critical, middle-school-minded brain? How do you do this to that lame guy in the back of your head saying “boooooo”?
Trust that your worries are not as big as they seem. Trust that you too will look good in your photographs. You will look like you, and no one else looks like you, and you look wonderful. (I’m picturing 97% of the internet rolling their eyes-- you’re only doing it because you don’t hear it enough!)
Trust that your photographer will use his or her well-honed skills with the camera, lighting, flattering angles and body positioning, and expression to bring out your absolute best self.
Trust that you can let go of that critical voice, even for just part of one day, and relax.
Trust that you are glowing.
Have any other tips on letting go of your critical brain? Or maybe an excellent middle school anecdote, like that time I got table topped at a football game and landed in some mud? Funny one, guys… so funny… what great friends...
If so, or even just to say hi, comment below or tweet us @mjbhomeent!
x Lee Ann