Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This Is What I Look Like

You know how sometimes things collide and suddenly everywhere you turn a certain theme keeps emerging? Well that's happened to me lately around the two related subjects of self-portraiture and allowing oneself to be photographed. First there was my pal Susannah Conway's excellent book This I Know in which she talks about, among many other things, the taking of self portrait photos as a means to self acceptance. Those passages, and Susannah's own pictures, directly inspired the picture I took of myself, above. I only took the one shot, and I got lucky--this photo represents exactly what I think I look like at my current age of 36 years old.

Then there was this article by Allison Tate "Mom Stays in the Picture" which speaks quite astutely to the fact that many mothers--what with getting older, and the body image issues that often come post childbirth--avoid at all costs stepping in front of the camera with their children. But how sad is that going to be when the kid is grown and they look back at all these photos of their own face, seeming to grow up in a motherless vacuum? So reading those words, in turn, inspired me to stretch my arm out as far as possible and take the shot above. 

But then, I realized, of course I am very lucky in this regard. While it's good to be reminded of the power of turning the camera on yourself, I really don't have to worry that there won't be pictures of Mabel and me together. Because among the myriad amazing photos of the child captured by her grandfather, more than quite a few feature yours truly as well. And while posting a bunch of those here does feel a bit egomaniacal, I must admit also feels pretty great. There she is, tiny and then growing bigger, and there I am, looking, hey! not half bad! and loving her like crazycakes in frame after frame. 

Down here at the end I do just have to mention the third bit of text that made its way to my attention around this same time and helped firm up these subjects in my mind to the point where they shifted from low-level percolation to a conscious "I should write a blog post about that" level. It's a bit tricky, as a sex-positive article about erotic self-portraiture among teenagers is hardly in keeping with the otherwise warm and fuzzy mommy tone of the rest of these thoughts. But what the heck. It's a damn fine piece of writing and says some brave things most people would not be comfortable saying and if you can't bring together all the weird and disparate elements floating around harmoniously in your brain on your own site, where the heck can you, right? So here you go: "Don't Be Afraid: Sexting is the Polaroid of our Time."

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad I read this, Bridget. It's so true about the motherless photos. And the idea about photographing yourself as a path to self acceptance is so interesting. I do feel like I'm trying to constantly figure out exactly what I look like. For so long I felt like I couldn't see myself as other people could, but after a few years of photographing myself I think I get the picture.

    These are wonderful photos of you and Mabel. My husband is a little less snap happy, so I do end up taking most of the photos of me and the kids myself, when I dare.

    Will have to go check out that link now!