I don't know if you have noticed, but lately I have been publishing on social media photos of myself wearing the jewelry I design and make. This was an important decision for me, for many reasons, so here is the story of my first photo shoot. I hope you find it inspiring.
One Saturday, almost a year ago, when it was still hot as hell outside, I left my beloved Jerusalem for the day and headed out to Tel Aviv for a little jewelry photo shoot.
This was a big deal, since it made me face a fear I have been harboring since my teenage years.
"I am not pretty enough", "I am not photogenic", "My body is not perfect enough", "I am too shy", "I don't know how to stand in front of a camera". These are only some of the phrases that swirled in my head. I would avoid having my picture taken as much as possible. Over the years, another aspect was added: "I am no longer 18. All those wrinkles...".
It was the same when I was 25, 30, 35, or 40 years old. It was only when I turned 44 that I decided it was time to face this issue. The issue of body image and self love is important. It is important to me, since, obviously, it stopped me from fully enjoying life. But more importantly it is important to all women. Only if we discuss it, and work together to change how women view themselves, and love themselves, will we make a difference. I decided that my small contribution would be to pose for the camera, at 44, just as I am, and post the photos, along with the story behind them online.
I borrowed clothes from my studio partner ADI YAIR that go well with the geometric jewelry I intended to shoot, put on some mascara (just mascara, no other makeup, just like I would do on any other day), chose some lovely necklaces, delicate earrings, and geometric rings I wanted to shoot and we were ready to go.
It was a hot day, and the sun was harsh, but the light yellowish and lovely, so it was totally worth it.
We went to the lovely neighborhood of Neve Zedek. The oldest neighborhood of Tel Aviv, found a lovely old wall with a Wabi-Sabi feel to it and started shooting in front of it.
I was uncomfortable at first, but since I was fortunate enough to have a photographer that knew how to make me laugh and relax, it got better as we progressed.
To ease me into the process we started with long necklaces. I am rather comfortable with this part of my body so it helped me relax. We moved on to earrings. A little trickier for me, but to make sure we get a good photo of the earring I needed to look aside. That was easier than to look strait at the camera.
We were half way through. Yey!
Next up - rings. Why is shooting rings on my hand such a big deal? Well, here is the thing. I have the hands of someone that works with her hands. Not the delicate, manicured hands of an office employee. Plus, I am not much of a manicure lover, and finally, I am 44 years old and my hands show my age.
As it turns out, the shot I like most from this photo shoot is this one - of the Asymmetrical Circles Concrete Ring on my far from perfect hand, with the grey nail polish I applied myself that morning.
The last items to shoot were short necklaces. Umm... No way to avoid it. That was it. My face was going to be shot. And you know what? It was o.k. I survived and even liked the photos. I was happy, and the photo shows just that. A happy person.
Once I downloaded the photos to my computer so I could edit them and looked through them I was ecstatic. They were so good! It was so liberating to look at them and realize that it was over, I did it! I had my picture taken from all angles and loved what I was looking at, wrinkles and all. That is me. That is who I am, and there was no reason to hide myself.
Since then, there were more photo shoot sessions. After I started, there was no reason to stop.
Are you like me? Do you dread the camera? When you look at all the commercials, with the young models, with their perfect faces and perfect bodies, do you compare yourselves to them? We should all stop doing that. The world is full of beauty. Every one of us is beautiful in their own way and it should show it. Help me spread the love. Help other women feel good about themselves by showing them you feel good about yourself. Wear something you like, put on your favorite jewelry, put on some make up or don't, smile, and take a selfie, or have a friend take your picture. Then post it online. No special hashtag, no publicity, just being there, with all our diversity, will make a difference. Or so I hope.
And remember to enjoy the process, and appreciate yourself.
PS - Have you ever heard about the idea of body neutrality? Apparently it's an idea that first surfaced in 2015 but I just stumbled upon it now long after I finished writing this blog entry.
I first learned of the existence of this notion from this quote by Automn Whitefield-Mdrano via the wonderful lifestyle blog A cup of Jo. In an interview to the New York Magazine she says: " My problem with body love, beside the fact that it's a high standard, is it's asking women to regulate their emotions, not just their bodies." Whitefield-Mdrano, the author of Face Value: The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women's Lives continues "I don't see the pressure on women really easing up, and then you're supposed to have this bulletproof self-esteem on top of all that. It's not something we can really live up to. Body love keeps the focus on the body. The times I'm happiest are when I'm not thinking about body at all."
The headline of a recent article in Bustle summarizes the essence of the movement: "What Is Body Neutrality? The Growing Movement Teaches That You Don't Have To Love Your Body All Of The Time."
I tend to agree. As a highly critical and aesthetic person I tend to be harsh on myself, so loving everything about me all the time would be hard work, and pretty much impossible. But liking specific parts, being content with who I am and shifting focus from my looks to other aspects sounds like a practical plan. I'm in!
Although I wrote this post a few month ago, it took me a while to post it. So even thought I discovered the idea of body neutrality and kind of agree with it, I decided to publish my original words, and add this end note to it. This was my process then. I still believe in it now. I believe that coming to terms with my body is a process that will happen if I put myself out there, and that the idea of body neutrality is possible only thanks to the fact that all sorts of women are being seen on social media.
And if you are not happy with something in the photo, just crop it out ;-).
*All the photos in this article were shot by Ishisan.