Why a woman won't have her portrait made

"Woman Obscured" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2017. Thurmont, MD

"Woman Obscured" (c) Rebecca LaChance, 2017. Thurmont, MD

This breaks my heart

Dear Beautiful Woman and Strong Man,

A gentle morning stroll with an acquaintance reached a spot ideal for an outdoor portrait. When I suggested an impromptu portrait, she replied, "Oh no, I never have my picture taken!" I asked the reason and she told me she "was too ugly."  I stopped in my tracks.

"What makes you think this about yourself?"

She shared the story of how her mother (her mother!) repeatedly told her she was too ugly for even a mother to love.  This acquaintance has spent the remainder of her life living with the belief that she is not worthy of love, let alone existing in a photograph. In her words, "she is doomed to be invisible."

What is the fear?

Just today, I've heard three women and one gentleman all say the same thing. "I don't like to have my picture taken."  When asked why, they all replied, "I don't like how I look in pictures."

I guess I could have countered their statements with "Have you ever had your photo taken by a professional photographer?"  Truthfully, I don't think my question would have led to fruitful dialogue about their "photographic images."  I think there is more at play. Each person was responding about themselves through an emotional filter.

Please help me understand. Do you feel the same about yourself and portraits? Is the filter based on some sort of belief in perfection? (Whatever THAT is.)  Are you feeling some insecurity? What is the insecurity? Is it a fear of looking foolish? I don't know...please help me understand.

And why is this fear, this filter, so strong and so toxic that people are not willing to challenge the belief?  We're talking adults here. Established, mature adults who support families and communities. Yet, they are unwilling to take a new look at themselves - literally. 

The 3 Sisters Portrait

Do you remember the story of the three sisters? They ranged in age from 92 to 101 and wanted a portrait taken.  The sisters specifically asked that none of their age spots and wrinkles be removed in Photoshop.  Why could these ladies have portraits made that memorialized their long-lived selves and healthy people in their middle years prefer to hide?

Still wondering...

I could use this blog post to remind you of all the reasons why you want or need a portrait.  But really, that is not my message today. 

Today, my message is this; "Please love yourself.  You are totally worth it.  Show your children and grandchildren they are worthwhile and lovable through your example. Break the emotional chain of negative self-beliefs for you and for them."

And can you help me understand, what is this fear, this insecurity that grips so many of us?

Sincerely yours,

Rebecca