|Bella Portrait by Anthony Rigano|
Of course I burnt out, and aside from the digital collection of very flattering pictures of myself, grew weary of playing constant citizen journalist, chronicling my every thought and brain fart and somewhat questionable fashion choices. I grew bored of the selfie orbit, but I do miss the piles of pretty pictures of me.
Since, I've grown considerably fatter, a few years older and couldn't give a live fig about current fashion. Trends, I had barely liked them to begin with but after 5 years of keeping abreast with what was in the now, grew to dread the daily "doll ups." Took to wearing the same day to day uniform of the comfy dress, a pair of slip ons and a terribly unfashionable battered red beanie, firmly planted on my head while I finally grow my short hair out.
Last summer I paid a Seattle artist friend a visit as he prepared for a big move from the city to go back to college in Olympia. While we sipped beers and nibbled on cheese and crackers, he pulled out an old Polaroid camera and asked to take my picture. A few awkward snaps, and a few months later, he sent me the result, of which is the photo header for this post.
I'll be blunt: I do not like it, not one stinkin' bit. It's not that I don't appreciate the artistic composition or the textured ferns in the background, but I don't like the way it displays me. My image reads as chubby: flabby arms, swollen belly, and what appears to be the start of a double chin. Ugh and yuck. So I tucked the portrait away until just now, until I just re-discovered it while nosing around desktop photos folder, unlabelled.
I should have labeled it: somebody else's portrait. Because as I look at this photograph, I KNOW I am looking at myself, but feel the woman in the picture has nothing in common with the me I know I could capture in a self portrait.
There's no flattering natural window light, no graceful pose, nada, nada, nothing. Just a sun drenched pic of Bella the Q, unfiltered. It occurs to me that there will come a day when I will look at this photo and be able to appreciate whatever fine qualities it possesses.
Because it does indeed look like me. Exactly like the me that insistently wears those comfy dresses, slip-on canvas shoes and flaccid red beanie that does no favor for fashion. I am guilty of those old lady noodle arms, the paunchy middle-aged middle and signature slouch. But also me: that toothy, goofy yet genuine smile, the happy eye sparkle and the irrepressible dark and wavy hair. People, just look at all those teeth; there's going to come a day when a toothless future self is going to suck in her cheeks and whistle with a lisp: wowth, my thmile thure looked allf right.
I remember a friend from high school who was a "big boned girl," healthy and curvy but had gotten into her head that she should have been straw skinny. She thought herself plain and heavy until years later when she reviewed her high school photos and could appreciate her youth. "I wasn't fat," she later declared, "I had a beautiful body!" Then a sigh: "How I wished I had that body now!" I guess the moral of the story is to appreciate what you got when you've got it.
Remember, the real you can never be fully captured within the confines of a click of a Kodak. You are NOT your picture or portrait, no matter who took it.