Thursday, November 14, 2013

A sad state of affairs.

Everywhere we go, there is a bombardment of weight loss and age defying strategies that promise to make our lives better. I've got brides that look like supermodels living a life of self-loathing from not being young enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. I've got gorgeous, seriously GORGEOUS expectant moms who hate the way their bodies have transformed and cringe at the photos they've so heftily paid for.

And then I get a note like this:

I've been sick as a dog this past week. Seriously sick. This rarely happens but when it does, I pray to God that none of the stupid shit that I worry about matters.  Just make me feel better, I quietly pray. And then, like clockwork, here I am feeling a bit better and jumped on the scale, secretly delighted to have lost 6 pounds from not being able to eat. And then we are rewarded for such lunacy. "Have you lost weight? You look great!" Queue the recipe for a possible future eating disorder.

I was recently speaking to a woman who was not eating her dinner during a wedding. I asked if she was okay and she responded that she was not able to eat because she had a procedure. Then she went on to tell me that nobody knew. I don't know what it is about people telling me things that they don't even tell their best friends. Maybe it's my uncanny ability to ask the questions at the perfect time. Maybe it's because they look into my eyes and see zero judgement and 100 percent sincerity. Anyhow. I asked if the procedure made her happier. She nodded. She was called fat names since she was little and so she decided to do something about it. A crazy world indeed that allows going under the knife to equate to happiness and a side of Fuck You to her childhood bullies.

I have women constantly telling me that they would love to book a photo session but just want to wait until they lose 10 pounds. I joke with them and tell them that if they keep waiting, they'll be old and skinny. Seriously, do you ever look back at photos and think to yourself, why did I worry back then? 

I've got the tools in my profession to make people feel better about themselves. I am armed with the knowledge of flattering light, poses, angles and lens choices to best flatter the human portrait. But how far can this be taken? I can Photoshop you to look like a totally different person if I really tried. And sadly, those are the photos that people want. They want all their perceived flaws removed, even if it means that those characteristics make them, well them. Freckles, age lines, marks that bear witness to giving birth....gone. Just like that. Babies are airbrushed to perfection. When we are starting this young, what sort of chance do these girls have as a teen?

I admire a woman who, every day checks in to her 6:00 am workout routine on Facebook. While I lazily awake from my slumber, she inspires me to get my ass out of bed and get going on my day. She recently had a child and this past weekend, was asked by a woman when she was expecting as she put her hand on her belly. I was crushed for her. And P.S. she is dropdead gorgeous and most would do anything to have her looks. 

Even my own mother, who in 20 something days will retire from her 40+ years in the workforce, beats herself up about not eating right, feeling flubby as she she calls it. I ask her daily, if you can't enjoy your life now, when can you? Like the song, you are always on my mind, so is that of weight.

I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to feed our bodies good food, get exercise and live a life of healthy choices. But when it's consuming our every thought, our mood, our perceived level of's a problem. Because nothing lasts forever. And no matter what, time keeps on ticking and there will always be a new generation of 20-something gorgeous and skinny knockouts who will also one day become older, and so the cycle continues. And just for once, I would like to go out for dinner with girlfriends over wine and whatever else we want to eat, and have an old fashioned night out, or a night in for that matter. Order pizza. Eat popcorn. Because they say, no good story ever started with eating a salad. And for me personally, the best times in life are enjoyed over good food and drink.

My friend Ruby posted this the other day.

"He sat down at the table next to mine and I said hello. He didn't respond at first, but when he realized that I wasn't on a cellphone, he quietly and sadly said 'Sorry, I didn't think you said hello to me. Kindness is rare these days, but your hello was a delightful surprise, so thank you.' "

It's a sad state of affairs, this generation we live in.  The old fashioned pleasantries have seemingly flown out the technology window. Nobody talks on the phone. I mean really talk. And really listen without distraction. I know even my phone rings, I grimace at the caller and wonder why they are interrupting my day. We can't seem to have a conversation without our gadgets in our hands.

I don't claim to have a solution to all of this madness. We all seem to agree that things are amuck. The world is spinning on an uneven axis and things in the universe just don't seem right. We are all chasing the unattainable dream of perfection whether it's in looks, number of likes on Facebook, the best dressed kids, the model home. We are glued to our phones reading about mindless shit about what people ate for lunch and all that jazz.

And it's only when there seems to be some sort of disaster in the world, be it natural, or by way of terrorist that we stop, if even for a second to hug our loved ones tighter and vow to take stock of what's important. And then we get back to whatever it was that we were doing.

We are photographing a wedding in Costa Rica in March. Everything is booked and paid for. Most brides, months before their wedding are frantically rushing around looking for all things pretty and perfect for their day. This bride is frantically trying to get her ceremony in order for tomorrow night because her father's health is quickly failing and she wants to recite her vows in his hospital room. I pray to God he makes it.

Usually I have some sort of witty conclusive silver lining to the world issues and personal strifes I write about. Today I am an empty vessel, fresh out of wise and uplifting poetic analogies. So as I write this post and look out my office window at the day that awaits me, I wonder.

I wonder where this world is headed.

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