They say that beauty is only skin deep. I have always believed that to be true and I certainly work very hard with The Girls to ensure that they will not consider their looks their greatest asset.
I never think of myself as beautiful, you know, genuinely beautiful. All the other mums rock up at the school gates looking slim and together and fabulous and I sort of slink in at the back not really minding whether I am noticed or not if I am honest. I’m not anti-fashion or anti-style or anti-make-up. I just would rather have ten minutes more sleep than take effort with my clothes and my hair. I also have the bruised thighs from where I walk into the cupboards all the time, the cellulite on my flabby thighs, the post-baby (OK, she’s a child) muffin top and jelly-belly. I have an ample frame because I would rather eat cookies than think about the minute-on-the-lips-lifetime-on-the-hips stuff.
And I appear in very few photographs. I’m always the one taking them. There are very few pictures of us with my mum when we were growing up for the same reason. Blogging at least has made me get in the frame, reminded me that it’s important to be in pictures and NOT worry about what you look like. So I didn’t really think about it when I tweeted my entry to the Home By Midnight Competition: I just pulled a silly face and forgot all about it.
I never imagined I would be at the Julia Boggio Studio having my photos taken yesterday because I am not beautiful. That’s not said in a self-deprecating way, it’s just what I consider to be true.
Winning the shoot. Taking part in the shoot. That was a lot of fun. I tweeted a few shots as I went because that’s what Instagram is for. Given that I spend a lot of time on social media, I should have been prepared for the hurtful comment. But I wasn’t. I sat and sobbed. I felt silly then. Silly for getting so excited. Silly for thinking that I was somehow special or beautiful.
The thing is, I spent the afternoon being made to feel beautiful. I was surrounded by people telling me I looked fabulous and cute. That I was a natural, great at posing, that kind of thing. Whilst I am sure that this is part of their remit, being in the business of making people feel good about themselves, it felt so genuine that I started believing it. In that room, I felt not just special, but beautiful. Genuinely attractive, beguiling, fabulous.
I had always considered photo shoots to be for Christmas cards. I felt that the sort of thing I did was a vanity exercise, and that there were far better things to spend your money on. But Home By Midnight changed my opinion. I had a whole afternoon that was about me. Not play-dates and school uniform and laundry and home work and “Mamma can you help me? Can we do this? I want to do that! ” But about me. I left feeling better about my image of myself, my opinion of myself, than I have for years. I got home and looked at myself in the mirror and, for the first time, probably since I had the children, I believed my daughters when they told me I looked beautiful. I don’t even need to look at the pictures to know that I will look lovelier than I have ever looked. I already know it to be true. I have had so many lovely supportive and amazed comments on my the photos of myself that I have shared.
I have looked at the pictures and I don’t see silly, or fat or tired or frumpy. I was sad last night when I went to bed to be taking the make-up off because I worried that I would no longer feel good about myself. But this morning the feeling is still there.
I truly believe that feeling beautiful makes you beautiful.
Yes, beauty is only skin deep.
Make-up is skin-deep.
But the experience I had at Julia Boggio Studios is something I will carry in my heart for ever.
*disclosure: I won this photo shoot. I wanted to write about it after a comment which made me think about beauty.*