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Self Portraiture: A Lookbook
From day one, I knew that I'd be modeling some of the styles for the shop, and that idea simultaneously filled me with excitement and dread. Excitement at the idea of modeling and looking fabulous, dread at the idea that none of those pictures would come out the way I wanted them too. A few years in and I still have that same mix of emotion.
Despite the fact that I'm not unhappy with my body, gradual weight gain means what I think my body looks like and how my body photographs don't always match up. As a result, I've found myself pulling away from modeling for the site despite the fact that Jess keeps telling me that people respond well to images that feature me. I know that plus size representation is important but the mental blocks we put up are often to protect ourselves run deep despite potential positive outcomes.
I've struggled with the idea of whether or not to even say this, because the friends we had helping with makeup and photography did amazing jobs, but I cried after seeing my images from our very first product shoot. I looked bulky, there were dark circles under my eyes, my fried hair was mostly pulled back except for the short bangs that stuck out from my forehead, and my weak chin disappeared into my neck. I hated these pictures so much that they were the very first items we worked on reshooting, and those we weren't able to reshoot didn't migrate over when we switched platforms. "Failing" in that first shoot was entirely my fault, I had this impression that modeling was easy. I didn't realize that a long shooting day, prioritizing those donating their time, meant that I wouldn't be in the proper mental space to stand in front of a camera. Nor did I realize that the way that all of the other models were posing wouldn't work for me because being plus size with a round stomach requires different techniques.
Fast forward a few years and I still dread cycling through images of myself after a shoot, so I decided to do something about it. I chose a day, a bunch of items that needed to be shot for the shop, put on some Fiona Apple and started shooting self portraits. Since it was just me, I didn't need to rush and I could take my time posing, literally look at every image, and take breaks when needed. It was still a long day with 8 different sets and it pushed me to the limit of my capabilities. After importing all the images from the shoot, I hated them, but this time I walked away, planning to revisit them when I wasn't so tired. I'm really glad I did, because in revisiting, I liked a lot of the images. I didn't feel like I was picking the best of the worst and I was actually getting a little nervous because I wouldn't have time to edit everything I liked!
What changed? Well, like anything else modeling is a skill. You have to be hyper-aware of your body, your surroundings, and how that translates to a lens. In this self-portrait session, I offered myself patience and I allowed myself the grace to walk away from the nagging thoughts of "I'm not good/pretty enough for this". Don't get me wrong that dread and hesitation hasn't disappeared it just reduced, but I have learned that bad pictures are just learning opportunities.
Shop the look book HERE!
All images shot by Amanda Lea.