If I Can Do It, You Can Do It
After getting a blow out for my brand shoot, Renee, my hairdresser who has been in a number of photo shoots herself, gave me this parting advice: “Look into the camera lens and speak directly to your client with your eyes.”
“Look into the lens and speak to my client,” I repeated this advice to myself on the drive home to calm my jittery nerves, glancing every now and then in the rear view mirror. “With my eyes.”
I was nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. When you’re fifty-four, there aren’t that many situations you find yourself in that you don’t know what to expect. When you’re younger, of course, everything is unexpected. There are simply so many things you’ve never done before. Quelle surprise.
“Good morning,” Shana, my stylist who always looks so damn stylish, was waiting on the doorstep when I pulled up. She rang the bell but my teens were dead to the world and didn’t answer. Shana clutched her very large Starbucks, chucked down her purse on the couch, and started to pose my house to look more glamorous than its usual state.
The truth is I’ve been trying to avoid this photo shoot and the uncomfortable fact that I’m the face of my brand since I started my business last year. However I knew I needed images for my website, social media and other marketing materials, and I’ve been public about my commitment to experiencing all the discomfort, fear and failure that goes along with achieving goals, so I couldn’t squirm out of this shoot. Even though I certainly felt squirmy.
I opened the door to Lu, my makeup artist who I was meeting for the first time, and immediately liked her. She glowed with her own beautiful makeup application, and started talking my language of empowering women to speak up. She set up her toolboxes on the dining room table and contemplated my face that was soon to be her canvas.
My two beautiful friends, Nancy and Tamara, who were there to pose as my clients at the coffee shop, but also to give me moral support arrived and got in line for makeup.
Why did I need moral support? It’s just a photo shoot. What’s the big freakin’ deal, Linda?
It is a big freakin’ deal. To be seen. In a world that makes sport of criticizing and judging women and girls. Our bodies. Our faces. Our choices. I wasn’t sure I was ready to take the judgment, but I was doing it anyway. Despite my nerves. Despite feeling like an imposter. Despite the “Who do I think I am?’ nonsense ringing in my brain.
It takes courage to show up on camera and be the center of attention. There’s nowhere to hide - and a lot of us spend a lot of time hiding. Trying to fit in and keep our heads down. We’re so worried that if we stick our necks out, we will be the target of harsh criticism that will confirm our deepest fear that we are not enough, that we are fat and ugly and unlovable, and a laughing stock for believing we could succeed. It’s a big freakin’ deal.
My daughters stumbled out of the bedrooms and took in the chaos in the living room. I know that if I want them to go for their dreams in life, they have to see me going for mine.
The team went to Good Earth Coffee Shop, and I met Mandi the photographer who I also liked right away. She’d just had a baby a month ago and I was so in awe of her confidence to be out “doing what I love”. Her baby will be lucky to have a mom who takes time to nurture her own life and talents.
“Look at the camera,” Mandi started snapping away as we tried to act natural while perching on the edge of our chairs to get a good angle.
I took a deep breath, had a swig of green tea, and stared directly into your eyes; into the eyes of all the women who want more: “If I can do this, you can do this.”
If I can show up at 54 and be seen…
If I can start a business that has a massive learning curve, but I love…
If I can stare down my nerves, self-doubt and fear of judgment, and take the risk, knowing I can fail…
If I can see my value that I am enough as I am - not thinner, younger, prettier…
If I can become the woman who accomplishes her goals…
If I can do this, you can too.
Show up and be seen.
It’s a big freakin’ deal.
Word Sense Studio