very once in a while, I’ll get the urge to update my selfie. Don’t get me wrong, I have to take 50 images to get the one I like. Sometimes I’ll get really lucky and find two or three I like. Then I’ll post them on Facebook and let the reactions happen as they may. Let me first say my friends are extremely supportive of me and even my most mundane posts inexplicably will garner quite a few likes and engagement. Most will say “You are so handsome!” or “You look great!”
Some, however, will jokingly say “What’s up with all the selfies?” and “Why so many selfies?” At first, I was embarrassed because I thought “Oh God, now I appear vain,” and I considered deleting them. But it wasn’t always like that. Two years ago, I remember posting only a single selfie in almost a year. My cousin told me I looked great and asked why I don’t post more of them.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: prior to my personal Year of Lance movement, I didn’t like to be photographed. Why? Because I didn’t accept myself. I rejected compliments and I failed to see the things about myself that others told me they liked. When I looked at photographs of myself, I cringed and picked apart everything I hated. Maybe you do the same with yours?
Seems we’ve been taught over our entire lives that putting ourselves down is a great form of humility. Indeed, Rodney Dangerfield made an entire career of self-deprecation. I’m not referring to laughing at yourself once in a while. That’s great, and I try to never take myself so seriously. What I’m referring to is repeated, daily reminders to yourself that you are ugly, dumb, unfunny, uncoordinated, overweight, and undesirable. I call it “death by a thousand cuts”. Why anyone would want to portray themselves this way is beyond me, and yet I used to be one of these individuals. We have plenty of magazines to tell us that we’re not as attractive as the pretty people, so why are we joining the party to agree with them?
Surely I must be crazy, right? I mean, you wouldn’t do such a thing. You’ve never said “Oh God, you don’t want me in front of your camera. I’d break your lens,” right? Or as a guy, you’ve never said “I used to have six-pack abs, but I traded them in for a keg.” To a person who is truly confident, these are harmless, laugh-at-yourself jokes. But to someone who deep down inside really feels they’re ugly or fat or undesirable, these self-deprecating jokes are just one more cut on their already withering self-image. Sometimes these aren’t jokes; they’re a plea for validation and reassurance that the jokes aren’t true.
Slowly, I learned these habits made me terribly unhappy. I began to work on myself not only physically, but also emotionally. Now it’s two years later and I’ve achieved my fitness goal (and set a new one!), I accept compliments, and I’m finally proud of what I’ve accomplished. I love the way I look (even with sun damaged skin) when I look in the mirror. I changed my eating habits entirely, and since 2012, I’ve been going to the gym 3 to 5 times a week to work out with a personal trainer. I wake up with sore muscles every day, and I try to stay on my workout schedule even when traveling. So why wouldn’t I be proud of what I earned?
If I’m thinking this way, then so are my clients, many of them might feel even worse! That’s what makes what we do so much more important. If you read my previous article about accepting compliments, you know I’m a strong advocate for self-image, happiness, and positivity. Stress to your potential clients the importance of getting their photos done. Remind them that they need to feel sexy or handsome, and they need to see about themselves what we already see.
Many times I photograph myself because I want to practice my photography, try new things, and celebrate the fact that I can accept compliments that people are gracious enough to give me. I’m the only model who is available whenever I want, day or night.
So now when my friends ask ‘Why so many selfies?’, I say because each one is a victory for me and I fucking earned it.