Do you remember your tween years?
I was a twig—all legs and arms and convinced that everyone mistook me for a boy, especially with my short haircut. I was self-conscious about what I wore, what I said, and wouldn’t answer questions in class for fear that I would get pegged as a know-it-all. I was so worried that no one would like me that I couldn’t appreciate who I was.
To make matters worse, this was the age where my family stopped taking photos of me. Oh, there are tons of pictures of me as a chubby baby, a wide-eyed toddler, and a pretty cute little kid. But we have very few photos of me from the age of 9 until I was a Junior in high school. Six years that went practically undocumented. There are a few school pictures, but those awful things have left me with the lasting impression that I was, indeed, as awkward and gawky as I thought I was during those years.
Sadly, I carried those negative impressions of myself into my high school years, and even into college. If I’m perfectly honest, some still hang out with me in my not-so-great moments even today.
I can’t help but wonder what it would have meant to me if I had a single image of myself where I didn’t look too skinny, or boyish, with too-short hair. Where I was simply able to see myself as the beautiful girl I truly was, inside AND out.
Would it have given me the confidence to walk with my head high in the halls of middle school, instead of hunched over, hoping no one would notice me? Would I have reached out to make more friends if I hadn’t been so worried that no one would be interested in me? Would I have taken more risks and had more opportunity for success if I’d liked myself a little bit more?
It’s too late for me to know.
But it’s not too late for my daughter, who just turned 11. So I’ve started photographing her in a new way. More than the snapshots and family portraits that we’ve done in the past, I’ve started making a point to photograph my girl in a way that shows her how amazing she is. How smart and kind and thoughtful and feisty, and yes, beautiful she is, inside and out. We make pictures of her that I hope will remind her that she is an incredible human being, with a whole heck of a lot to offer this world.
I tell her that I want to have good pictures of this time in her life where she’s changing as rapidly as she did when she was a toddler, so I can remember. And that’s true. But I also have bigger hopes for these images and their lasting impact on her life.
Last year we launched a new line at the studio called C.U. Our goal is to help girls see themselves as they truly are and celebrate that. We want to empower them, give them confidence. And we’re doing just that. When our C.U. girls see these images of themselves, they’re inspired, encouraged, and proud of who they are.
If you’re the mom of a tween, call me. Email me. Schedule your daughter’s C.U. consultation today. It will be a gift your girl will carry with her for a lifetime.
PS: Click here if you would like information on how your girl can be a C.U. Model for the 2016-2017 school year. It’s one more way to be a C.U. kid – with perks!