Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This post has no photos, but its got a lot of feeling



I’m a good sport. I’m a team player. If something is needed to get the job done, and it’s something I can do, then I’ll do it. No hesitation. No questions asked. So last fall, as the brand manager for the corporation that I work for, I went to a photoshoot in New York City. The Creative Director asked if I might step in as a model if needed. I said sure! If that helps the photoshoot, if that helps get the job done, then I am there, 200%! And I was. It was a five-day shoot at as many locations and at each I had fun not only giving brand input, but holding up reflectors, moving props, chatting up the models; I did whatever was needed and enjoyed doing it. 

It was the last day of shooting when I was asked to model. It had been a long week of long days and this was towards the end of the last day. We were shooting at beautiful home on a lake north of NYC. The weather was warm and humid. Trust me when I tell you my hair was not looking its best. Trust me when I tell you that the make-up I put on at 6 am that morning was non-existent. Trust me when I tell you that wardrobe put me in the most boring, most conservative, limpest of blouses and khaki pants, which I would normally never, ever wear. But I’m a good sport! It was my part and I was going to play it. And I did. 

Sitting with my model “husband” on the outdoor deck overlooking the lake and pretending that we were reviewing our finances on a laptop. I chatted. I smiled. I played the part. And it was all fine until yesterday. An art director who I’ve worked with only long distance and we’ve never met in person, sent me a brochure to brand review. It was a brochure on retirement. Fine. No problem there, I do this all the time. I scroll through the pdf, all looks good. All is on brand. Then I get to a page with a photo of me and my “husband”. The copy reads “Meg and Bob are about to retire...”

What? What? How can a photo of ME be used as part of a couple that’s about to retire! I like to think of myself looking at least 10 years younger than I am, which would place me in early to mid-forties. I tried to be objective, thinking if I saw that woman, would I think she looks old enough to retire? Maybe? Really? Maybe? It is a terrible photo of me. But I don’t want even a terrible photo of me to look like I could be near retirement. But what’s retirement age anyway? It’s 65. Right? Do I look 65? I want to be at least 75 or 80 before I look 65. I can’t show you the photo because of photo rights, and I wouldn’t show you anyway, because it’s terrible!

Vanity, vanity. Hell yes!

It’s kind of driving me crazy. 

I just spent thirty minutes looking at images of Ines de la Fressange, one of my style icons. She’s beautiful in a very natural French way. And she is a year older than me. I looked at her images comparing the lines around her eyes with mine. The lines on her neck with mine. Ok, ok, maybe I have fewer? But she’s very beautiful to begin with and she’s model tall and model thin. But she’s got lines! She has a great smile. I have a great smile too. Would someone use her as an example of someone who is about to retire? I don’t know. I remind myself of wise words I once heard in a writing class...compare and despair. 

And now I know, I take photos too personally to be a model. 

And now I know, I am what I am. Keep smiling. 

6 comments:

  1. What an honest post, Lesa. I appreciate your courage as you share your vulnerability. Unless retirement @ 35 is the new norm, you do not look old enough to retire!

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  2. Lesa, you're amazing and this post is perfect. Of course you don't look old enough to retire. Fashion is a cruel mistress- even 19 year old models are criticized constantly. We shouldn't let it affect us, but we do. I am older than you (and look younger than my age also). We can be so critical of ourselves, and you shouldn't be. You're beautiful. I've love to get together again and check in. Virginia- FirstClassWoman

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  3. You were an actress playing a role - femme d'une certain age preparing for retirement, perhaps? You look and will look lovely at every age you grow into. XOXOH

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    1. Ha! That's one way to look at it. I never knew I had such acting ability! Thank you Hilary for the thoughtful words. I do like what you say about growing into an age.

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  4. Of course you don't look old enough to retire. Not even! Hilary is correct when she says you were an actress playing a role. Why do you think they waited till the end of that humid day and then dressed you as they did? You may have not looked your best, but even on your worst day you are lovely. Do not despair, for you are and will be beautiful and youthful forever, just like your Aunty/Mama, Caryl.

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    1. Thank you Naomi, and everyone, for leaving such supportive comments. I wasn't fishing for compliments, but I sure do appreciate it! I remember my great aunties saying how much younger they felt inside from what their actual age was. This was my first experience of that. the difference of how I see myself and how I feel with how someone else sees me. I'm not despairing, but it's given me something to think about.

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