It Takes One Person
All photos on post were taken by the magical Heather Rowland.
Someone once told me that I wasn't objectively beautiful. He sat there next to me at a small bar with blonde curls and big bright blue eyes. He went so far as to tell me that his friends thought he could do better. My fingers were wrapped around a cold glass filled with golden liquid that made me feel a little goofy. He went on to tell me that I wasn't exactly "pretty" but that "unlike most people," he could "appreciate what I did have to offer"...as far as my appearance went. I stared at my bubbly beer and nodded at my beverage. Alright then.
I'd like to say that this was years ago, a world away from me, and that it had no impact on me whatsoever... But it was this last January. Only a couple of months ago, really. And I think being told that I wasn't objectively beautiful - whatever the hell that means - could have shattered my existence once upon a time. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't thrilled to hear it. However, I was still able to hear it and chuckle to myself from the bitter words he let fall from his mouth.
Because who says that?
Here's the answer to why it doesn't matter who says that:
It only takes one person to make you feel beautiful.
Now, this can be one of those inspirational blogs where I say, "YOU are the only one who can make YOU feel beautiful." And though that's somewhat true and peachy, let's be honest, sometimes that guy or girl in the mirror isn't going to get the job done. Sometimes you're going to look in that mirror and want to look away.
And that's why we have this world full of people that see so much beauty in individuals that it hurts their souls. And if we're lucky, some of these people tell us when they see it.
I see beauty in a lot of things. I like trips to the grocery store and walks to the bank because they're filled with these things and people and interactions that may seem ordinary, but are, to me, kind of breathtaking. I love fiction, and I write a good deal of it. However, I always tend to write more about my walk to work or a stranger I met on a bench than I do dragons and unicorns (wait, are unicorns real?). It's because the truth is beautiful. Real is beautiful. And all it takes for something dull to feel like a firework is one person to look at it a certain way and give it life with their own personal lens.
Heather and I were in the car when she stopped on a street seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I thought, what are we doing? We walked out and she led the way with her camera. It wasn't until she stood me right in front of these ravishing yellow petals that I realized that she had found our first "spot." I thought to myself, I would have never noticed the firey bush of yellow butterflies had I driven past it a hundred times...how did she see these beautiful buds of sunlight? Suddenly a random plant I'd pass by on my way to get Thai food without a second thought was the lovely backdrop for Heather's photos that would make me glow.
She has an eye. And she was vocal about it! I can't stress this enough. The first minutes in front of the camera I was second guessing everything. Even my hands. My mind was panicking: "Why are they so weird? What the hell do I usually do with them when I'm not thinking about what to do with them?" But Heather charmed me with her enthusiasm. She would turn her camera screen to me and show me photos of myself. At first I thought, "Cool. Photos of myself." Then she went on to explain how she loved my neck turned just like that, the skin tone with the spring flowers and fresh sunlight, my nose with my side profile, my honey eyes, and my shy-to-uncontrolled laugh when I felt just way too pampered and dramatic. Then I thought, "Yeah. Hey, I am kind of pretty, huh?!" And Suddenly I went from a hollow body with a lack of confidence that wasn't "objectively beautiful" to a relaxed and self assured soul that felt proud of the glow of her skin or the tilt of her chin.
While driving to different spots around Salt Lake City, she was already talking about how excited she was to review and edit the photos. Her energy about photography and eagerness to get to work made me think about those times when I am fifteen minutes into an evening stroll and get hit with some thought hard in the head and have to power-walk back home to jot it down before I lose the overpowering feeling to write.
Sometimes in this life, we have people tear us down. Sometimes it's on purpose, sometimes it's not. Sometimes they say these dreadful things that make us feel dreadful ways. I believe that feeling beautiful is important, and I also know that it can be so easy to be robbed of that feeling. We are all fragile beings. No matter who you are, there are times when you are nothing but vulnerable. Just remember, just as that feeling can be taken away, it can be given. And it is an inexhaustible feeling to give. (So give it honestly and often!)
When Heather first contacted me about the possibility of a shoot, it started with her telling me that she had read my blog on being diagnosed with alopecia. She wrote, "I am so inspired by you. You grew in a moment when most people hide away. . . You took control. It's absolutely beautiful." Kind words like that, reaching out when she didn't have to like that... That's what keeps me going.
Maybe I'm not objectively beautiful...But whatever I am, Heather captured perfectly, and I am delighted to show these photos off to the world!!!
See the rest of the shoot here on her website. Happy Wednesday, everyone. Remember it only takes one person to make someone feel beautiful - if you see beauty, tell them. Let them feel it.