30-Day Self Portrait Challenge

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It seems the only cure for jet lag is turning on the computer, clacking away at the keyboard for a few hours, and trying to get over the fact that The Government just decided to shut down. Welcome back to America.

A couple months ago I read this article. My immediate response to the author's title felt hard and heavy. Over the past year I have replaced nearly my entire wardrobe. And not in a good way. In my day-to-day life I try really hard not to talk about my weight. Whenever discussions with other women come up about the topic I generally stay silent and I never believe skinny people who say they were "the fat girl" growing up. That said, I am keenly aware of the body issues and cultural expectations of beauty placed on women. It is an ongoing battle. It is unfortunate and sad and difficult to overcome. It is particularly destructive when worth is wrapped into the mix. I know. I have struggled with these issues my entire life.

After reading the article I wondered what I could do to combat my new found camera shyness. Around the same time A Beautiful Mess was starting their photo challenge. My knee-jerk reaction was a little unkind. Seriously? You know only egocentric beautiful women are going to do this. Clearly I wasn't ready for the challenge. Even on the first day of September, when I snapped a photo of Ken and me at church, I didn't feel fully committed, mainly because if felt raw and vulnerable and scary.

Ten days into the project I still felt incredibly narcissistic, but I liked how I was being challenged creatively, so I invested in a small tripod and iPhone attachment. Finding new angles, the right light, and colorful backdrops was part of the process. An aspect I especially liked. As the days wore on I started to feel more confident, if not a little apologetic to the people on Instagram being bombarded with my images. True to the original rules I took every picture myself. Most of the pictures were taken during my favorite time of day: the morning. I only used my iPhone for this challenge, although any camera would work. Surprisingly, I found that some of my favorite shots I am wearing no makeup and have bed head. Go figure. Including other people in some of the pictures felt communal and made me happy. While I haven't been invited to contribute to the National #Selfie Portrait Gallery, I am glad I stuck with the 30-day challenge. It was good to stretch myself for a month, even allowing for the space to see myself in a more positive light.


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