My friend, Kendra, called me up one day and suggested I do a photo shoot with a friend of hers, photographer Michael Draga. First off, I was stunned into silence and then I began to giggle. You’ve got to be kidding. Why on earth would I do a photo shoot? Okay, I’m an erotic romance writer, and this is pretty cool, but I’m also a middle-aged mother, complete with wrinkles, bulges, bumps, dimples (and not the cute ones), scars, etc. etc. For the record, I’m not fishing for compliments here. I’m good with how I look now. I’ve worked hard at all the imperfections – worried over children and parents for the wrinkles, enjoyed wine and whiskey for the bulges, sat on my as to watch T.V. for the bumps and dimples, and had numerous surgeries or accidents for the scars. Considering all I’ve been through, I think I look just fine.
Be that as it may, I’m still a woman and as such have insecurities. And, those who know me well, also know that while I put on a good front, I’m also a bit shy and self conscious at times. Once I realized she wasn’t kidding about the photo shoot, but had actually set up a date and time, I panicked. What do I wear? What do I not wear? Will the photographer shake his head and wonder why the hell I’m there? Will I be laughed out of the studio? Is this a scam?
Finally, the fateful day arrived. As with everything I do, I over-packed. I was also nervous and jittery as all get-out. Kendra had accompanied me for several reasons, safety, security and because I may well have chickened out if she hadn’t. She helped me dress and pose for Michael Draga.
Guess what happened! Not only did he not laugh at me, he complimented me, took amazing photos of me and made me feel like a celebrity. One thing he taught me: it’s the imperfections – a slightly crooked nose or teeth, eyes that are not the same size, freckles, wrinkles – that make each person distinct and beautiful. I need to thank him for that. His artistry and kindness helped me to relax and see my own beauty and sensuality. After seeing the photos, I think I can see what he saw: a mature, intelligent, sensual woman. Also, after inspecting a picture of my legs, I finally realized what people have been telling me – the scar from the knee surgery that I was conscious of is actually barely noticeable.
So what’s my point here? Simple. Women, myself included, don’t celebrate their own beauty and sexuality nearly enough. We, as a group, tend to focus our energy on eliminating our perceived flaws. What we truly should do, though, is embrace those flaws while appreciating our unique gifts.
Obviously, all photos are by Michael Draga.