Have you ever had a meltdown because you couldn’t communicate with your photographer? Or because you looked like shit and you felt awkward ‘cause you don’t really know how to pose for your body type? Or your nose looked crooked? Well, I definitely have. This week we talked to Dave Krugman and Jenni Walkowiak, two NYC photographers about taking better pictures from a male and female perspective.
My mom has insisted for at least 10 years that I should have a Youtube channel. We have discussed baking (a family tradition), knitting, cats, tourism in Mexico, and other hundred ideas for the content I could use to become famous! However, I've never been comfortable in front of a camera. Of course, my mom sees me without my body dysmorphia and doesn't really understand what's "holding me back". And while, yes, part of it is a mental illness I still struggle to manage, with touches of imposter syndrome, a big part of it is the horrible anxiety that is being in front of a camera.
I've tried so many times. I've thought about and tried to actively be that cringy person who takes pictures of herself in an inappropriate public place, and it always goes down the same way. I have a crazy anxiety attack. Oh, how many beautiful days have been ruined by not being able to take a good picture and thinking how to pose every inch of my body so it looks more flattering, “my good side, my neck, my back, my arms, my face, my smile...” I start to feel so overwhelmed while I feel people staring and I start sweating and.... uuuuughhhhhh. The worst.
Allow me to share some braggy context: I have at least 2000 pictures on my laptop that never quite made it to Instagram (do it for the grid). Thanks to my bachelor's degree in Hotel Management and massive amounts of privilege I have had the opportunity to live in several cities in Australia (including Kangaroo Island), Cabo, a Caribbean island, Mexico City, Winston Salem; I’ve traveled to the Netherlands and Barcelona. And yet, I’ve posted very few pictures. Not because I didn't take any. How I wish I could say it’s because I’m deep and don't care about "all that superficial stuff", or that I’m a private person, or I don’t like the idea of being an influencer. I've also had a very rough mental health journey with a history of domestic violence, childhood abuse, and mental illness. I'm a certified habit-building coach. I’m a yoga teacher trainer. I mean, I could write some bomb captions. I have worked on social media for the last three years, and have been a community manager for accounts with +400,000 followers.
Okay, so I have traveled to beautiful places, I do yoga, I know about mental health, I have cats and foster kittens whenever I can, I know my way around algorithms. I have all the things. So why can’t I allow myself to make the impact I want to make in the world through my social media? The answer is imposter syndrome and body dysmorphia. If one tiny part of my body doesn’t look good is reason enough for a picture to never see the light of day, and if I'm not even brave enough to share those insecurities in a picture, much less with my words.
When I was 10-years-old, in that pre-teen stage where nothing in your body is proportionate, my dad got into his head that I was pretty and white enough for instant fame. He brought me to a park nearby and took so many pictures of me while saying "try to look cute", "straighten your back", "smile with your teeth", etc. We got the printed pictures and oh my god, I felt immediate shame. I looked so awkward, so uncomfortable, and weird. I never landed any of the auditions my dad took me to. And, so it started, me feeling frustrated and sad because I'm always feeling hot, cute, or sexy until I see a picture of myself.
With body dysmorphia photoshoots are hard. Mirrors are hard. Selfies are hard. Dressing is hard. Make-up is hard. The best pictures of me are when I'm sleeping. It's the only time I can be relaxed in front of a camera. Landing the perfect photoshoot for whatever I need is so difficult, I still use the same pictures from 2010 for my CV.
In yoga, poses are built from the ground up. Starting with the feet and going up with the alignment of every articulation. I've heard Jameela Jamil and Maddy Smith refer to body dysmorphia like perceiving themselves as a Picasso, a disproportionate picture of bits and pieces. So what I will try to do from now on is bring some yoga into it. Adjusting piece by piece how to pose, from the ground up to not get overwhelmed. And hopefully, I won't forget how to breathe. In this episode, Jenni Walkowiak was so on point giving tips and tricks for posing with my profound neck, arm, and back dysmorphia, I can never thank her enough. Knowing what works for each body part that is triggering to me might be a game-changer and practice is the key to success. Truth is, in this visual age, we could all learn how to pose.
Now, planning my upcoming wedding, I'm so stressed about the thought of how the pictures will come out. My fiancé is the best at posing. But, I will take dear Jenni's advice and practice, communicate assertively with my photographer, try to stay as chill as possible (I'll settle for not having a breakdown), and breathe.
Do you have a story you'd like to share with fellow Cumpanions?