The lights cast a soft whiteness across the photographic back drop. The studio is quietly humming. The equipment pops and flashes for each shot. Nods and short sentences between the photographer and stylist. I’m standing there, in my tenth outfit of the morning, swishing one way and another, a small dip of the head, a smile at some imaginary friends, a little on-the-spot walking action… it’s a sequence of movements like a slow motion dance. I am handed a bag, someone teases a rogue section of my hair. Someone else adjusts my sleeve so the wrinkles will fall ‘just so’. I am modelling.
I smile at the lens, my mind racing along with the shoot, keeping up but in a parallel reality. I’m stunned by the surrealism of it all. I find it hard to compute that I am here, doing this. I’m not sure how long it will take me to adjust to feeling this way. Only 6 months ago I was struggling to manage daily life. Standing was my nemesis. Yet I have been on my feet for two hours straight… and I can still smile. Flash! Pop! I feel my calves flex to keep my balance in my size-too-small prop shoes. I’m really doing this. Still standing.
“That’s it, we’ve got it!” smiles the photographer. The stylist and makeup artist give each other a high five. We. Are. Done. Everyone thanks everyone. I change back into my own clothes. And just like that I clock off from another shoot as a curvy model. It’s such a fun and affirming thing to do. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I’m being paid to try on clothes and show people how they really look on a curvy body. I’m contributing to the kind of online shopping environment that works for curvy girls. I can’t count the number of times I have not purchased online, because the model looked too small for me to really understand how the clothes would fall. It makes me happy to think that there are DD-cup+, curvy girls out there who will purchase clothes this season because my boobs and bum provided some realism to help them with their shopping choices! Here’s to the bootylicious bods out there, and some fair representation!
Here’s a grainy phone picture of me all glammed up, on my way home from yesterday’s shoot:
But besides the representation of plus-sized bodies, the glamour and the fun of doing a shoot, there is always something running along underneath, for me. An incredulity. An awareness that just standing is still a dream for so many of you, just as it was for me, not so long ago. I remember how that felt, longing for a body that could do the normal stuff; every present moment is echoed with the contrast. I carry my past with me, I carry a knowledge that I can never forget.
And it is precisely because of all those years that I am seizing the day! I am doing what I can, because I CAN! But I have not forgotten you, out there. I stand for you as much as I stand for me. With every health win, every symptom I walk away from, with every medication I wean off, I am laughing in the face of Dysautonomia. Take that! See this? Wham. In your face mother plucker! I so hope that if you have been following my journey, you feel me carrying you into everything that you cannot do. Into all of my upright hours, through all of my busy days. You are with me, in spirit if not in body. Your own body biding it’s time, battling it’s own way through the maze. Hanging in there.
I stand for you.
I stand for a world that is kinder to people like us.
I stand until you can. I will stand as long as I can.
Hang in there my friends. Hold tight. Never, ever let go of whatever it is pulling you onward. Because if this can happen for me, then that means, it is possible. If I have this reprieve, this time of plenty, this freedom to be who I always used to be, then why not you, too?
It’s a paradox, but nonetheless, here I am standing still and moving forward.
*the necklace in the image above is from Uberkate. She ran a competition last year for women to nominate their friends/sisters/mothers using one word for the pendant. My friend Nettie nominated me and chose the word ‘standing’. My sister in law Cathie seconded the nomination. And they won it for me! It is a necklace I treasure. I wear it every day and it draws me back to my purpose every single time I look at it. Thanks Nettie, thanks Cathie, and thanks Uberkate!
** Nettie has a blog called I Give You the Verbs. Which tickles me, because in winning that necklace for me, she literally gave me the verb! 😉