Last week, I flew home to California so my family could be together for the first time in years. Sometimes it seems as if we’re changing every minute, so naturally, so I flew home with some a combination of excitement and trepidation. Would this be one for the photo album or for the therapist’s couch? Only time would tell.
Despite the fact that my parents, my brother, and I are constantly evolving, we all seemed to come together like a Parker Pangaea. I’m so proud of the grown-up my brother has become and he seems to be proud of me trying to become one myself. As sensible adults, we were able to behave as immaturely as always, but this time while holding non-dairy iced chais. We bought fancy scotch for my dad’s birthday; he paid, I obsessed over not being carded anymore. We saw The Dark Knight Rises and he pretended it was his first time seeing it. We had a catastrophic birthday cake cutting adventure resulting in more icing on me than on the cake. We were a team again.
For better or worse, I think my brother and I see each other for who we really are. I am really trying to see myself that way as well, which seems to be more challenging. I got new headshots while I was home, which required a conversation with my photographer as to what message I was trying to send about myself. Apparently, the phrase “Me on my best day” wasn’t specific enough. I decided I wanted to look young, fresh, confident, and fun. Am I these things? I tried to put my years of studying improv and America’s Next Top Model marathons to use. I tried to smile with my eyes (smize!), relax, breathe, and look natural. This rarely comes to me in photos. I am certifiably unphotogenic, and perhaps it’s because I want to look more at ease in photos than I am in real life. So, I struggled during the headshot shoot. I often reverted to my sultry side, because for me, that’s just being shy with some sex appeal. Looks #1 and #2 were conservative: minimal make-up, simple clothing, a variation of closed and open-mouthed smiles. For look #3, I needed to shake it up. I decided to stop worrying about the rules of headshots and just get some fun, editorial shots. Natural make-up? Not on my watch! The make-up artist gave me a smoky eye worth of Ru Paul’s Drag Race and teased my hair like a sixties bombshell. She said, “I don’t think you’re of this era,” and with a yes and acceptance of that idea, I finally felt like I was in my own skin. I threw off my pants to sport a Risky Business oversized collared shirt and bare legs ensemble. I even threw off my bra because adjusting it was taking me out of the moment. The photographer pounced on this idea, referencing a young Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn. I felt so much more beautiful portraying someone other than myself. I was at my most natural when I was looking the least authentic. It was hard to wash off all of that mascara and see the vintage vixen swirl around the drain.
I’m looking forward to seeing the proofs and trying to remember not to be too hard on myself for not being Tyra Banks-worthy. I want to challenge myself to be more confident under less cover-up. I want to see the same person my relatives see when they look at me. In a perfect world, I would be as perfect as my dog sees me, but let’s take this one step at a time. Young, fresh, and confident? Let’s start with genuine and see what develops.