In my previous text on self-acceptance (link) I focused on the asymmetry of the body, especially the face. I showed something that is completely natural, but arouses a lot of self-criticism in people.
That text I started with the sentence:
“What are the most common words I hear when clients cross the door of my Portrait Studio? I am unphotogenic, I don’t like myself in photos, I hate photos.”
I want to develop this thread.
Because these are the words that are usually said in the beginning. After that, it only gets worse.
What a snout.
Sorry, unfortunately I’m terrible photo material.
My best time is over.
Unfortunately I have to look at myself.
Jeeeez, I’m round.
I have a pizza-like face.
I won’t smile. I hate my smile.
These shoulders are a nightmare.
I look like a four-door wardrobe.
My hands I have to hide, I have terrible nails.
Unfortunately I have one eye higher, it looks bad.
Wouldn’t it be possible to improve these ears? They’re ugly.
What a belly! I look like I’m pregnant.
Unfortunately there is nothing I can do with my hair, a tragedy.
I don’t know what can be done with me. Rather nothing.
The photos are great, but me in them – terrible.
Well, unfortunately I have a difficult face, I don’t know how you can deal with it.
I’m not a model.
I don’t like myself with my hair down.
I look like an old man.
I fucking can’t look at myself.
And I could go on and on.…
I often feel helpless when I hear such words. They are not covered by reality, the objective one. Interestingly, whenever I work with a team and the participants of a session have the opportunity to see their colleague, they react completely differently, much more favourably, they point out shots they like, I hear admiration and approval. And often the comment: well you’re great, but I’m terrible.
Sometimes I feel angry or even sad that people speak so badly about themselves. Imagine talking to yourself like that every day. You repeat these ‘truths’ reassuring yourself that you are right. You see yourself this way, you don’t accept that it could be different.
This lacks tenderness, gentleness and understanding of yourself. An acceptance of weakness, an acceptance that sometimes you feel better and sometimes worse. There is no connection with your body.
Instead, there is ruthless criticism.
Tiredness, hectic daily life, lack of time for yourself, for sleep, for sport, poor food, clumsy outfits.
All these things affect how you feel, how you perceive yourself and, consequently, how you talk about yourself. I’m far from giving advice and I will not do so. I don’t judge these behaviours. I know that they result from experiences, cultural and upbringing influences, lifestyles. Instead, I dream that people look at each other more gently, that they give themselves some time and tenderness.
That’s probably why it’s a priority for me to make the people who visit my Studio safe and at ease as I try to create a friendly environment to at least minimise the frequent discomfort of being in front of the lens.
I have this quote (I can’t remember whose words it is) prominently displayed in my studio: “Practice speaking well of yourself”.
And with that I will leave you.
Photographs: portraits of women were created in my Portrait Studio – including Magda Daniłoś an advocate of ‘Be afraid but do’ and self-kindness. The portrait of the man was taken for the Kosciuschko brand in the space of the Porcelain Factory in Katowice.