“I see it as unveiling you like unwrapping a present and the paper is made of shadows.”
Snow on the river and two by two
Took a lot to live a lot like you, I don’t
Go there now, but I hear they sung
Their “fuck me and marry me young”
Some wild idea and a big white bed, now
You know better than that, I said.
Driven Like The Snow, Sisters of Mercy
I bloody love sentimentality. And if the precursor to sentimentality is getting drunk with my oldest best friends in the world then, bring it on. Which is how I recently found myself promising to get some Goth into Exposing 40! So here you are my friend, a little Sisters of Mercy, a lot of kohl and the long black velvet gloves I wore to my 18th birthday party. The Manics-inspired fishnets shot will follow soon, I promise…
O yearnful waves! The kisses of your lips!
Your breast so broad, with open arms, O firm, expanded shore!
Two Rivulets, Walt Whitman
This is the first image from this collaboration. I trusted him to photograph the part of my body I like the least…
I wrote about meeting the photographer back in September. It had been a good chemistry test. And good chemistry is important if you’re planning on getting naked with someone.
He was coming to mine after work. The day didn’t get off to an auspicious start. A delivery so early I had to set my alarm to be up in time, a cancelled workman by 8.15, me spending four hours assembling office furniture. And rain. Persistent teeming rain and dismal slate grey sky. Skies made for poems about the Welsh valleys, but equally suited to building Ikea furniture on a Monday in October. By 5pm I was tired, unshowered and unsexy.
I feigned concern about the weather, it being Monday, him having to walk up a hill. Something. Anything. Nothing concerned him.
“Are you in the mood tonight? These pictures are for you so I want you to enjoy it.”
“I would say I am 50:50,” I replied.
Oh, get a grip! A talented, engaging, interesting and charming photographer is coming to my flat to photograph me! A quick trip to the corner shop and I am pouring a glass of wine, sinking into a hot bubble bath and skimming a razor up my legs. I slip into my favourite black dress and before long I am padding barefoot down the stairs to open the front door. I didn’t realise until I opened the door that I’d been feeling nervous, but it’s nice to see him. He has a handsome and friendly face, and I remember how relaxed I felt the first time we met.
I pour wine.
“So, what have you thought about? How would you like to be photographed?”
“I haven’t, really.”
“Come on, tell me.”
“I haven’t. The whole point is I want you to articulate me. I want you to shoot me how you see me, not how I see myself.”
I am playing with my wine glass, avoiding eye contact. His camera is already out.
“What do you like about yourself?”
“My legs, my arse, my smile. My arms are OK.”
“What don’t you like?”
“My breasts and stomach.”
“What else don’t you like?”
I feel my defences come up. Is that not enough? Is it not enough to not like the middle bit when we are constantly bombarded with flat stomachs and pert breasts? That aside, I don’t like being challenged. I am open about my vulnerabilities, I wear them with a certain amount of pride, mainly because I spend a significant amount of time chewing them over in my mind before verbalising them. Once they’re out there I want them to be accepted or addressed, but never questioned.
But he’s pushing the right buttons and I can feel my energy rising. I move in my seat, my feet go up on the table and I shift so my dress slides up. I pretend it’s casual, that I haven’t noticed that he’s dropped to his knees gripping his camera, but I know I am performing.
And I trust him. I know I can be vulnerable. I stand up and slide the dress over my head.
Merci beaucoup, photographer friend! I’ll be sharing your photographs here over the next few weeks so I hope everyone enjoys looking at them as much as I enjoyed having them taken!
I am on the other side of the camera this week and I am happy to say my Look at Me Now friend is back. I am so glad she couldn’t keep away! And I am feeling very very proud of her at the moment. She’s nearing the end of a C25K running plan and is off the cigarettes on the Stoptober plan. Woo hoo! In her August post she responded powerfully to the cruel comments made about her appearance from work colleagues – well, what a ‘fuck you’ she’s delivering them now, eh? Gorgeous woman!
My Favourite Shirt
Sometimes you feel sexy in a pair of high heels.
Sometimes you feel sultry in a basque and suspenders.
Sometimes you walk in wearing nothing but your ratty old tartan shirt and realise that’s when he likes you best.
August and September delivered a series of sucker punches that left me floundering and, at times, devoid of my usual exuberance and resilience. A house purchase falling through within a week of the planned move, my niece born brutally early at just 27.5 weeks and a five figure work contract delayed through no fault of our own. Home, family and finance; three pillars of security, rocked.
Tears were frequent, sleep scarce, motivation for exercise left me, moments of craving security and kindness coupled with moments of needing silence and solitude. But I have amazing friends who at times like this really come into their own. Never underestimate the power of meandering and frankly ridiculous WhatsApp chat as a tonic when the universe is dealing blows! Or of cake, wine, sushi, coffee…
But October is a new month and the time has come to dust myself down, push the shoulders back and the chin up and get on with it. So this week I have filled the gaps in my work schedule with truly simple pleasures. Wallpaper has been stripped, woodwork scrubbed, holes filled, ceilings whitewashed…