The most special things are the things that don't really belong anywhere but here.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Glamour Shots and Epiphanies

There comes a time in every 28-year-old woman's life when she gets out her low-resolution scanner and uploads photos from her Glamour Shots session in 1995. For this woman, the time is now.

I have to start with the picture that was deemed the "best one." Doesn't it look like I'm wearing a purple dress? Well guess what? It was merely a sash tied to look like a dress. That's the magic of photography. I remember one time when I was little, we got an add in the mail for child beauty pagents. It was adressed to me, and I thought this was no mistake; a talent scout saw me somewhere, knew I was so beautiful, and marketed me. I begged Mom to let me do it, but she said "no" because she is a good mother. I'd like to think that if I had done it, this would be the main head shot we'd give the pervert judges.


This next one was my personal favorite. I loved the sequins, how the red popped, and how my hair was tossed to the side in a sassy fashion. I put this picture on an "about me" board in sixth grade that was out in the hall, and someone put gum behind it. I decided this was because they were jealous.


The next photo is an epic fail from the red outfit session. I imagine this is what I would look like if I ever became a drunken, promiscuous soccer mom. Can't you picture this lady in a bar at 2 in the morning while her kids are asleep in the car?


This was the same woman, fifteen years before, when she was just a little girl whose mother put her in beauty pageants. She was so drugged-out from amphetamines and sleeping pills (like Judy Garland) that she periodically fell asleep during photo shoots.


But I guess those pictures are from another life.

I got these Glamour Shots done one summer with my sister and cousin, Liz and Natalie. I'm not even going to tell you how much my mother spent on them, but it was ridiculous. When we left the session, we went to the food court and walked around with our big hair and whore make-up. Liz and Natalie dressed like people from 90210, so while I'm sure they looked out of place, at least their clothing was more mature. I was wearing one of my Northern Reflection shirts-- the purple one with the cats in the basket (see one of my previous blog posts, "Fashion"). I felt so, so stupid, I can't even put it into words. But I always felt stupid when I was looking or acting older than my age, and I felt embarrassed for others when they did the same. (Like in third grade when the popular girls used purses for pencil cases? Seriously?!)  So standing in the middle of the mall with prom hair and a giant kitten shirt was definitely an embarrassing experience for me.  It was more fun when we were back at home by ourselves trying to comb the rats out of our hair. That was not easy.
Sorry for sharing, Liz and Natalie. But I'm not sorry enough to not share it.

My hat picture stands out to me because I remember thinking I looked so old. I wondered, "is this how I'm going to look when I'm grown up?" I didn't really like it. I thought I looked kinda fat. Something about my nose was weird. But we got an 8 x 10 because people said it looked good. This concerned me.

The funny thing is, in a really strange way, I actually think I look younger now. But maybe it's just because my face got less fat, or maybe because I tamed the unibrow. Or maybe it's because I don't wear that odd shade of lipstick. It could be something else, I don't know.


Eleven-years-old was such a hopeful age. That summer was also when I finished my first novel. It was about a woman named Georgie Buchman who thought she found the perfect man, but it turned out that not only was he abusive, but he was also leading a double-life! I knew it had Lifetime Original Movie written all over it, which at eleven-years-old I considered to be the highest form of art your work could achieve. I couldn't decide on the title, so I gave it three: "The Man that She Married," "The Masked Stranger," and "No More I Love Yous." Can you guess what song was popular at that time?
                                                     (Annie Lenox is so effing scary.)

I was convinced that I would be published by thirteen and would be on Oprah. I knew my teenage years held nothing but good things. Boys would like me and I would have a lot of friends. I imagined standing by my locker in the new middle school, holding my trapper keeper and laughing, being cool. Yet, the reality was that unlike my sister and cousin who could laugh in the middle of the mall in their prom-make-up-- being slightly more proud than they were embarrassed-- I felt ridiculous getting attention like that. There was the reality that I didn't like the hat picture where I looked like a sassy high school grad. The reality was that the term "teenager" and my personality were never going to mesh well. The day I turned twenty, I was so happy I was done with all that crap. But I didn't know this was the way things were going to be at eleven. I was just busy feeling awesome.

Time for another picture. This is the one that made me feel most like my 90210 Barbies because Brandon had a very similar jacket, and sometimes he would let Kelly or Brenda wear it. Recently, I saw a couch made out of the same material. We almost bought it.

It's interesting that this shoot made me wonder about what I would be like when I grew up, how teenager life and adulthood seemed both so far away and so certain. Back then, I thought that growing up meant being out-going and independent. I thought I would be ready to handle whatever was thrown at me and I would like it. I thought that the woman I would become would be so far away from the girl that I was.

But oh, how I was wrong. I remember one of the first times I realized that I was truly growing up, not just looking older or having more responsibilities. I was in college, sitting in the cafeteria by myself. My friends all had classes at that time, so I was eating lunch alone. In the past, I felt awkward and embarrassed sitting by myself, but I suddenly realized that I wasn't any more. I actually kind of liked it. It reminded me of when I was in elementary school and I would hang back in the cafeteria while my friends went outside to play. I liked being the last one left at the table because I could day dream about time travel and remote controls that granted wishes (DAMN YOU ADAM SANDLER FOR STEALING MY IDEA). 


Sitting in the college cafeteria, I felt very much like my fifth grade self again, and that was when I had an epiphany: growing up wasn't about becoming someone new; it was about returning to your authentic self, that person who you were before all the crap came in and clouded you over, before you were categorized based on who your friends were and how you dressed and whether or not you were considered desirable and what your plans for the future were, but when you were just that happy, dreamy kid eating her pb&j all by herself and not giving a shit.

Since this epiphany, I've learned to embrace and indulge in the parts of me that are connected to this authentic self. Sometimes this means putting eleven-year-old Brigette on a pedestal, Glamour Shots hair and make-up on or not. I would like to tell Oprah all about it. Even though she doesn't have that show any more, I would like to offer my services to appear on her network, which I hear is struggling. I think I could really turn it around. Maybe I could read excerpts from "The Masked Stranger" "No More I Love Yous" "The Man that She Married." Would you like to read an excerpt? You WOULD?!
Don't you hate it when your husband comes home at 10 after 4 in the morning after drinking 28 beers?
So there you have it: my Glamorous moment in preadolescence and beyond. What is a part of your authentic self that you left behind around age 12, and how can you get it back? Did you ever have your Glamour Shots done? Did anyone ever ruin a poster you had in the hallway because they were so jealous of how beautiful you were? Don't you think it's awful that Kirk told Georgie she was fat when she was actually PREGNANT?! Discuss!

12 comments:

  1. I loved this post and I would buy your book as long as the typos of 11 year old Brigette are in it. You are hilarious and I adore you--Rina

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    1. Aww, thank you so much, Rina! I agree-- the typos really sell it! I'll start talking to publishers...

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  2. OMGEEEEE GAHHHHH I'm dying. I love this. I read it intensely and each picture was like a new present, unfolding before my computer screen. I, sadly, never got any glamour shots. But you on the other hand, have plenty to go around. I am so glad you remember so much detail about all of them- I think my fav is the one where you look like a drunken soccer mom, eyes half-open.

    Ahhhhh our little minds were so precious back in the day. Love the sequins!

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    1. Thank you for the passionate reply! Yeah, the soccer mom one is truly haunting. Why didn't we ever get Glamour Shots done when we were at good ol' Alb?! Nothing would have screamed "Fiske Brothel" more!

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  3. This is great, roomie. You could've been the next JonBenet Ramsey! Wait, that probably isn't a good thing...
    K.B.

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  4. Oh Brigette! Dan and I have spent the last 15 minutes cry/laughing! Your Glamour Shots are beautiful! I still have the first purple one and I clearly remember the day when you showed me the photos in 6th grade! Special moments! Your tri-titled story is absolutely amazing and we are both clamoring for MORE! It is quite simply Lifetime gold and we have to know how it ends! You are a true delight & reading your posts makes our day! I wish I was still into my American Girl doll--Samantha...that is something I miss from the more authentic me! :) Keep writing! xo

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    1. I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for your kind words! And yes, I agree that my novel is Lifetime gold. Should I post portions of it on a weekly basis until the whole thing is transcribed, including my typos? Or maybe just the highlights? But then someone would STEAL it, right?! Haha. I miss my American Girls too! It's too bad we never got to go to the American Girl store in Chicago together when we were youngins. :( Maybe that's another thing you and I need to do as grown ups.

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  5. I am just now catching up on the updates from my months of grading hell. I think that you have fabulous dialogue in this story and I wish I would have had access to this when I was trying to teach my students about dialogue.

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    1. Beth, you are more than welcome to steal it and use it for next semester. Although your students may ask for a refund. Haha!

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  6. I ran across your blog when I typed in glamour shots to google images. I also had glamour shots done when I was about 11 or 12. Only one looked good and it made me look ridiculously old. I actually just purchased a groupon to go back to glamour shots for a boudoir photo shoot. As I read your post here, I could not help but identify with you. I remember the dreams of my childhood where I would the popular student and look like the peeps on television. Never happened. Looking back, I am so glad it didn't. I, like I was when I was young, am now back to my real self and the girl/woman I always have been. And I love being me! Thank you for posting and let me know when you publish your novel. I love it!

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    1. Aw, thanks so much for the kind words! I love being me too. It would be great to go back in time and tell our eleven year old selves that they are awesome & don't need to change. And I am jealous of your glamour shots groupon! LOL. Have fun--I hope it's a blast!

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