On Beauty, All Too Mindfully

One of his hobbies is photography. This is a wonderful habit to have. I love pretty pictures – even though I take all of my pictures with my iPhone and then use Instagram to autotune them into some semblance of “decency,” if you can call it that. (I like them. I imagine those of you who spend hours manually focusing and whatnot are annoyed by this, but I don’t care. To each their own. And my own methods are free and convenient, two things are just really hard to beat.)

But this is why I am self-conscious. I’m about to grossly generalize here, so forgive me, but as a woman, I suffer from at-times low self-esteem, self-confidence, etc. Growing into my own looks was a really rough journey for me – the nose got made fun of all the time, the lack of boobs, etc. But I think that I’ve finally arrived at a point where I can look in the mirror and be like, “Damn girl. You got this.”

Having someone who thinks I’m stunning is lovely, but I have no idea how to accept his compliments. Modesty, humility, gratitude: all of that exists in me when I hear him tell me such lovely things, but the idea makes me uncomfortable. Because it goes back to the whole “Me? How could he find me this attractive?” thought process. It’s not just a woman thing. And not all women have this, but I find that particularly girls like me, who grew up not gorgeous and not heinous, but just plain and awkward, have a hard time coming into adult beauty with grace.

Not that I’m trying to say I’m beautiful, or anything other than that. I am Katie Barry, and that’s enough for me. But I am improving in the looks department as I age, and this is a really positive thing.

Seeing myself as he sees me, or at least as his camera sees me, is really odd for me. My curiosity gets the best of me. It’s vanity at it’s finest. It’s more that I’m examining each photo, mentally picking out blemishes and fine lines and ugly, but also searching for beautiful. I see the pictures and I search to find my beauty – to validate what I want to see in myself. I want to feel beautiful because when I do, it spreads through me and carries such a tremendous amount of power in its translation from understanding to outward confidence.

I have no idea if I made any rational point there, and I’m not going to belabor it. Moral of the story: I have no idea how to act when there’s a camera in my face. I sit still, thinking of how hard it really must be to be a contestant on America’s Top Model, and I make a mental note not to judge them all so much for being stupid and vain. And after a while, I relax, forgetting or no longer caring that the camera is there. And then it’s okay.

We’ve agreed that when we got to Albuquerque, we will be tourists and have people take pictures of us together. This will be fun. It will be freeing. We will be touristy and silly and our photos will be of us and not just me.

He was playing around with a new lens the other day while I talked (of course). This is what he came up with:

and this:

 

and this, which is my favorite:

I have no idea what I’m talking about. No idea at all. He reminded that within ten minutes of meeting me, he had commented on my animated speech. It’s something I don’t realize I’m doing, but when it happens all the time. (At Dairy Queen a few weeks ago, I was asking a man how he wanted something and one of the options was “blended.” I made a crisscrossing motion with my arms, which he found hilarious. It ended up being the highlight of my day, because we bonded and laughed about that before he joked about the high quality of service and asked if the cameras were working – insinuating that’s why I was being so awesome – and then gave the cameras the “thumbs-up” just in case. Made my day. Thank you, strange blending arm motions, you give me character and positive reinforcement.)

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