Saturday started with such excitement. I was going to be part of something called “Model for a Day.” My friend owns a beauty salon and does this two or three times a year. She is a stylist for several models (including her beautiful daughter) and works with professional photographers. She brings in make-up artists and jewelry, clothing, etc. She always has a place for me, but I have never been brave enough to go–until now.
When I walked in Ginger smiled the smile that said something is going to happen today. My daughter, husband and close friends always wait in anticipation when I leave for her shop never quite knowing how I will look upon my return. She directed me to one of her staff and said.
“Jen is going to get you started. She is going to pre-lighten your hair. “
“Pre-lighten? I take it we are going to get rid of the dark red/brown?”
Again she smiled, “Oh yeah. I am totally going to change your color. Going to make it more—sassy.”
As the morning progressed, the shop was a whirlwind of activity. Ginger did her magic and transformed my hair into a bright red/orange color. Then I was off to make up. There was a debate about eye shadow and lipstick color, but Ginger knew what she wanted.
The photographer came in during the midst of the chaos. He was relaxed and seemed to be having fun. He made the rounds talking with all of the “models.” He wanted to get to know a little about everyone and wanted everyone to be comfortable with him. I knew his work and trusted Ginger. I was excited and ready to start.
One of the other women and I got in his car and drove to a location for shooting. Jeffrey only does natural pictures; no studio work. He checked the light, the camera, the settings and directed me to the place for my first shots.
Jeffrey took the first shots and told me to relax. I realized I had suddenly become very insecure. I felt embarrassed. Who did I think I was? All of those words of self-doubt and feeling of worthlessness came flooding in. He tried to coax a smile. I remembered being eight years old. My grandmother was taking my picture. She told me NOT to smile; she said I had an ugly jaw line. The clothes I was wearing would have devastated her. She said fat girls should wear long sleeves and loose clothing.
I pushed those thoughts aside and tried to find my self-confidence. We went back to change clothes. Ginger was there for the second group of shots. She loves me as I am and encourages me. She says I had no idea what my true shape is because I always wore clothes that are too big. She thinks I see myself as the almost 300 pound woman I was two years ago. I enjoyed the second set of shots a lot more.
When I saw the first photos, today I started to judge myself again. I saw wrinkles and flabby arms; I didn’t see a size 6 model figure standing there. Then I remember something Jeffrey wrote on the facebook photo album with these pictures. He said, “What’s so great about this collection of women is that none of them claim to be models but for one day wanted to have a “model experience” and it is so rewarding when you capture the inner beauty shining through that all of them have!” I looked at the pictures again with a new purpose. I saw not only the incredible photographs but also I saw my inner beauty coming through. I can’t wait to see the rest of the pictures.
I was reading a blog yesterday titled Learning to Trust My Journey by Donloyn Gadson http://creolemagnoliacafe.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/learning-to-trust-my-journey/
Ironically this blog was inspired by one of Jeffrey’s photographs. Check out the blog to see it.
The blog is about a single shell in the sand. She compares the shell’s journey to her own.
She writes, “Imagine, if you will, being carried from place-to-place within the ocean…braving rough waves and seas…being tossed about until finally you’ve reach land.
Quite a tumultuous journey, to say the least.
And notice, this shell is not cracked. It is not chipped. It is not shattered into pieces of its former self.
It is whole…unblemished…patiently awaiting what life has in store.
Look closely and you will see that it is surrounded by the broken bits of shells that came before it…the ones who weren’t strong enough…the ones who gave up on their purposes…the ones who not only felt fragmented, but also became fragmented (Yes, there is a difference.).”
I often forget that I am made up of all of my life experiences; both good and bad. I am strong not only because of the people who supported me and encouraged me, but also because of the people (like my Grandmother) who put me down and told me I wasn’t good enough. They will always be part of me. I am surrounded like the shell by the broken bits of shells (people) who came before me.
And like the shell I survived the journey without cracking; I am not chipped or shattered. I am whole..unblemished..and waiting patiently for what life has in store. I am even going to sign up for the next “Model for the Day.”
**You can see Jeffery Scott Villafane Photography on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1285206957
**Check out NOLAS at http://www.nolassalon.net