I am from a generation of people who shy away from cameras. The mobile phone was invented when I was a young mum and back them, it was a rather heavy “portable” phone. No need to say there was no camera or apps to play with. In contrast, my children’s generation now consider mobile phones as completely normal. And with it, the concept of selfie is as natural as sending and receiving texts.
When I published my first book, the journey of the slim soul, in 2009, I dragged myself to a photo studio to get a professional looking photo of myself for the back of my book cover. I had been told that it was essential to have a photo shoot for a writer. I am really glad I did because it boosted my self esteem. Up to then, I had perceived myself as this ugly duckling. When I saw the glamorous photo of me that’s the studio produced, I had to pinch myself. I was actually rather good looking. I slapped the photo at the back of my book and thought nothing more of it.
Things started to feel a bit off when I did book signings. I would get worried that people would not recognise me from the picture and expose me as a fraud. In real life, I looked nothing like my glam photo. I never wear make up. My hair is a curly mess. And in addition to that, I struggled to lose my baby weight after my fourth baby, by which time, as my book was about slimming, I completely stopped promoting it even though I had an agent by then.
In 2013, I decided to stop dyeing my I hair. It took three years to completely regrow it and by then, I had an even bigger obstacle to people recognising me from my glam photo. Now I looked like the mother of the author. Not the author anymore. I sank even further into shame. I had become the prisoner of a photo that never really looked like the every day me. But I had no alternative. It seemed everyone around me who had a camera was determined to take a photo of me at the wrong angle or with horrendous lighting which meant I looked ugly and fat. Every single time. My body image was very low and I hid even more from cameras.
Then I stumbled upon a thirty selfie challenge run by a lovely coach. I signed up and forced myself to stand in front of my phone every day. The first few days were horrendous. I didn’t manage to smile, but I stuck with the challenge. My intuition told me that it was important. She encouraged us to post a selfie to share about our day so I wrote little snippets about my life so that slowly it became less about my face and more about me as a whole person. And I started to relax. It took a lot more than thirty days for me to actually start to smile at the camera. But eventually I did.
What also happened is I learnt how to take better selfies. I started playing with angles and light until I was satisfied with the result. I also played with my wardrobe and found out what was more flattering. But the most satisfying aspect of taking selfies is that I was in control. I no longer had to put up with people taking horrible photos of me and believing that I looked the way they had captured me. I took my power back over my own image and self worth. It was a real turning point.
Next, I realised that being in front of a camera became less threatening. And I started to smile more. The more I smiled, the more people warmed up to me. And I started to connect to my readers more.
Selfies are an essential tool to connect to your readers. They make you more human. I doubt that my glam picture ever did that for me. If anything, it created a distance between me and my readers and I would never want for that to happen. Your readers need to see your face often and if you post only your glam Photoshoot photos you will be missing a golden opportunity to connect to them heart to heart. And as an inspirational writer, I think connecting to heart to heart with your readers should be top of your priority list.
Selfies are also a great way to become more visible and nowadays, every author needs to be visible. Gone are the days where they were allowed to be their often introvert selves and hide in their writers’ dens.
I am running a thirty day selfie challenge in my writer’s group. If you would like to sign up, click this link: http://eepurl.com/c2Utw1
To your writing,
(C) Ange de Lumiere 2017