Modelling: Therapy for My Body Image
Growing up I’ve always had a high interest in fashion, beauty and celebrity culture; I’ve 110% been shamelessly watching the Jordyn / Tristan scandal like a hawk. After years of indulging in the glitz and glam of the media, it’s safe to say that I’ve developed a less than perfect body image. The media is famous for distorting what the “ideal” and “beautiful” body shape is by reinforcing altered images into our lives. In today’s digital world there is an endless supply of visual-based social networks and an even larger amount of photoshopped images circulating them. It seems that this abundance of face tune and airbrushing has conned women (including myself) into thinking that only girls who fit into these societal standards can truly be happy.
(Just saying, but society has been waaay selfish lately. Not cool)
I hate to admit it but, I believe that all of this societal pressure has had a role in the person I am today, and I feel as if some of you can relate. Without going too deep into the topic, media influences have helped me carve out my biggest insecurities and to build the walls that hide them. Over the years I’ve gotten very good at the smoke-and-mirrors routine, and Instagram is the perfect platform for it. I post what I want the world to see, and I hide what I’m ashamed of. Despite dating a talented photographer, my walls of insecurity grow higher when he, or anyone else, pull out a camera. But, I want to change that.
One of my New Year resolutions is to try and actively do things that make me step out of my comfort zone. I love to try new things but, I typically play it pretty safe. I always try to avoid situations where I may feel awkward or uncomfortable. As a makeup artist, I am completely comfortable behind the scenes while assisting others in presenting their best selves. However, I tend to shy away as soon as a camera lens is pointed in my direction. My Instagram feed would suggest that I am the opposite of camera shy, however, I often feel out of place because I don’t believe I have the skills to be a model. I am completely clueless when it comes to body positioning and finding your "good side." I am always afraid I’m showcasing my "bad side" and this fear results in some pretty stiff poses. That being said I am highly motivated and interested in learning, but I just didn’t know where to start.
Shortly after the new year, I received a friendly Instagram message from a female photographer who wanted to shoot with me. I had briefly met her once before, and I remember being in total awe of her natural badassery. How could I refuse to collaborate with such a talented boss babe? We chatted over the following few days about her ideas for the shoot, and I started to become a lot more comfortable with the idea of stepping in front of a camera (even though the plan was to do so in the freezing outdoors). About 2 weeks after our first conversation we set a date to brave the cold.
First of all, a huge thank you to Renee Robyn Photography for putting up with both the horrible cold and my awkward lack of essential modelling skills. Every time I was nervous (and it was frequent), she guided me on what to do and how; I felt like I was doing a photo shoot with one of my best friends. She would take breaks to show me some of her shots, and that really helped my confidence grow, and my walls drop. I personally felt awkward with everything I was doing but, it was nice to be reassured that I wasn’t totally messing up her vision. After approximately 6 ½ minutes we couldn’t bear the cold anymore and retreated for hot coffee at the Jumping Bean. Renee, Curtis and I chatted and laughed while the heat of our coffee cups brought our fingers back to life.
Within a few hours, I received messages from Renee containing photos she had already edited. The photos she sent me were beautiful; definitely a Disney princess vibe. Think Anastasia mixed with Belle during Beauty and The Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. I may have felt self-conscious during the shoot but, the resulting photos were gorgeous. One of my favourite shots ended up being a candid that was taken while I was talking about Terry and his summit suit (and how much I love to wear the outdoor suit inside the house to stay cozy; it’s like a stupid expensive onesie). My smile is so big that it makes me grin just looking at the photo; I usually don’t like candids of myself but I really really really like the ones Renee took that day.
"A candid smile on a photograph someday will remind that you're a happy person" - Esra Syiem
Overall, I am truly happy with my first, legitimate photo shoot experience (Terry doesn’t count because he loves me regardless of my modelling skills). Renee and Curtis made me feel comfortable, beautiful, wanted, and pleasant the entire time. They were completely respectful and gave constructive criticism that guided me to do better during the shoot. There’s nothing worse than having someone take your photo only to visibly show that they aren’t happy with the shots. My close friends will know that I’m referring to a specific embarrassing experience, but my point is universal; work with photographers who make you feel good about yourself. Trust your gut. If it feels off, find someone else. There are so many photographers out there but the real-deals will treat you right. ***side note: this advice applies to relationships, too***
Working with Renee Robyn Photography gave me the confidence to maybe start shooting with other photographers, as well. She helped to slightly lower my walls of insecurity, and I can’t thank her enough for that.
(Meier & Gray, 2014).
(Tiggemann, & Miller, 2010)