Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The Bathroom Mirror
Serious question: are you getting tired of seeing pictures of me in the bathroom mirror? (Because, clearly, I'm not getting tired of taking them). I know they're common, but that's for a reason. As a self-portrait artist, mirrors are a major source of inspiration. You gotta see what you're shooting to get inspired. And though I like to put mirrors all over the place (to the extent that I can), the one hanging over the bathroom sink is generally the one you tend to look at the most. It's also located in the one part of the house where you're most likely to have a significant portion of your body uncovered (which, as a nude and erotic photographer, means something to me).
And though you might say, "but zharth, bathroom mirror selfies look so amateur! Why don't you grab your dSLR whenever you get inspired, and take a real picture?" And my answer to that is, I often do. And you know what my experience has been, a lot of the time? That when you see a certain something while standing in front of a mirror, it's really hard to recreate it after you've stepped away from the mirror and set the camera up, in a different room, with the light coming from a different direction. It's that photographer's impetus - when you see something, you snap a picture before it's gone, because moments like that are ephemeral.
And even if you're shooting a person, that person is constantly in motion, their body position changing - even with so much as a breath or the slightest slouch. And cell phones are really handy. You just rush into the other room and pick it up (or pull it out of your purse), while the moment is still fresh, and snap away. (Incidentally, this is also the reason that it's so hard to forget to wipe the mirror down before you start taking selfies in it - but I tell you, it's worth it, because photoshopping out those really unsightly smears is a pain in the ass).
All this talk about mirrors makes me think about the fact that so many people have a love/hate (or just plain hate) relationship with them. Which is unfortunate, but understandable. We live in a culture that puts a lot of pressure on people to look perfect. So much pressure, that even beautiful people often don't realize they're beautiful. And there's this unspoken rule that you're not allowed to feel good about the way you look, because that's narcissistic, and it means that you're full of yourself. It's tragic.
Now, I'm pretty good looking. I came to that realization based on the opinions of many others beside myself. If it weren't for them, I'd have gone on the rest of my life thinking that I was unattractive (I really honestly thought that for most of my life). I really think that's what people need - somebody in their life who genuinely thinks they're beautiful to tell them that, regularly (and it doesn't count if it's your mom, because you know a mother will say that whether it's true or not), and it's unfortunate that not everybody gets to have that. But now I'm a model, and I actually think of myself as being "model caliber". Obviously, I'm not perfect, and even now that I've lost a lot of weight I didn't need, and I think that I'm in the best shape of my life, there are still parts of me that I don't particularly like. And there always will be. But there's enough there that I like, that I don't need to dwell on the negative. And that's a good thing!
I imagine that for a lot of people, looking in the bathroom mirror represents this dreadful daily challenge to accept one's looks, and exert maximal effort in primping themselves to meet society's standards. I don't know what I could possibly do or say to change that, but I wish people had more grounded expectations, and more to like when they look in the mirror. To me, the mirror isn't my dreaded enemy, but a good friend hanging around who is always ready to give me a compliment at a moment's notice. You probably hate my guts right now. But I'm not trying to brag, I honestly wish more people could experience this kind of a relationship with their mirror image.