The artist had lost her focus, which meant that we reached the end of the four hour photo shoot. With fatigue quickly taking over, the makeup became heavy on my eyelids and the layers of hairspray began to itch at my scalp. Both my mind and body could not wait to shower. As I reached for my bag, the photographer approached me.
I turned around and read the small figure’s dark Asian eyes. She was hampered with confusion and asserted me, “You do not like my pictures today”. I thought back on the day to try and acknowledge what may have stirred her frustration.
I recognized that in between set changes I had approved the photographs with subtle shrugs and nods. Clearly, these short answers did not persuade her. Ashamed of insulting her, I reiterated that my job as the model was to portray an emotion or an idea and that I was only putting on an act. As long as she was happy with the image, I felt that she did not need my approval. She thought the contrary and wanted me to love the photographs of myself. The problem was that these photographs did not feel like me.
I turned around and unzipped my bag. With my back towards her, I tore the velcro from my wrist brace and laced each strand around my arm comfortably. I then proceeded to slip on a foam finger brace, like I would with a beautiful pearl ring. With everything adjusted for comfort, I held out my stiff arm and finger and turned towards her to avow, “this is the real me”.