This saga all began when I got an email from my publicist giving me the details for the shoot. They wanted to photograph me in my office and wanted the look and feel to be sexy and sophisticated. I could live with that. But the line that gave me pause was: "They want to portray you as a sexy soccer mom."
Okay, now I do consider myself to be sexy woman and I am definitely a proud soccer mom, have been since my son was four, but "sexy soccer mom" is not a tag I'd wear on my lapel. I don't do sexy on the sidelines. In fact, sexy is the last thing I'm thinking about as I'm screaming out things like, "push up" or "man on, man on" or "goaaaaaaaal" (though now that I see it in print, it does sound kind of sexy, but let's keep it all in context, shall we).
All this to say that right from the gitgo, their label was making me nervous.
Anyway, I get to the shoot with the wardrobe they'd asked me to bring--pencil skirt, simple top and high, high heels. Not a problem. My closet is full of those very items. I also packed up a signature charm bracelet and four pairs of my favorite CFM heels. Not so soccer momish, I think. Very me. I can do this, I decide. Then the photographer and makeup artist take a look at my selection.
"I thought it was supposed to be a sexy shoot." I overheard him say.
"It will be once I'm in them," I interjected from the next room. He laughed. I sounded all confident and in charge, but his comment definitely threw me and shook my resolve.
"Hey, where's my champagne split with a straw?" I joked, thinking a nice buzz would ease my nerves. I got water. I guess it wasn't that kind of shoot.
Professional makeup should help. It took the make up artist twenty minutes just to set up and when I got to the table there were, no lie, at least 40 different items laid out. Hmm, no wonder Halle Berry looks so damn good, I think. My cosmetic bag contains five items and I use every one--MAC Studio fix, blush, concealer, mascara and lipstick. Putting on make up for me takes ten minutes top.
First, she rolled my hair in curlers and then led me over to the stool. I sat down and she proceeded to dip and dab and mix and brush and swirl her custom coverage on my face. I just sat back and let her do her thing until she pulled out the false eyelashes. Oh hell no. I am not Tammye Faye Baker, bless her soul.
"Are those really necessary?" I asked.
"They'll give you a sexy eye for the camera," she responded.
I don't do false eyelashes so I didn't realize that until the glue dries they weigh a ton. All I knew was that I could barely open my eyes and "sexy soccer mom' suddenly felt like a drag queen. Painted and powered and with my eyelids falling shut, she led me back to the hair chair and proceeded to remove the curlers and style my hair.
Did I mention there is no mirror around? I had no idea what I looked like. But I felt pampered and celebrified, so I was happy. The photographer was ready. His light was perfect. Time to get dressed and on set. Then I see my reflection in the mirror. I look glammed up for sure, but it was so not me. I didn't feel comfortable and if I didn't feel comfortable, no way sexy and sophisticated was going to come across. So I cashed in a diva chip---you know, in a nice soccer mom kind of way.
"Umm, this look isn't working for me."
We compromised on the lashes and a hot flat iron and fifteen minutes later I was on set.
"Give me sexy." "That line is too straight. Can you bend your legs that way?" "Roll on that hip more." "Sit down." "Stand up." "Be sexy." "Make up." Cross your legs." "Smile." "Don't smile." "Not so big." "More smile." "Be beautiful." "Turn here." "Sexy. Hot." "Turn there." "Change your clothes." "Give it to me." "Do something different." "Give me something more." "Come on, you're sexy, show me."
Three hours later, I'm tired, hungry and bored. He's got amazing light and renewed imagination. "I need something different and sexy."
Diva chip number two definitely delivered with more attitude. "Man, I gave you all the sexy I had three hours ago. Right now, it's about getting the lucky shot."
A few clicks later and "that's a wrap."
What's the moral of this story? It's twofold: First, you can't wear someone else's label of who you are and expect to feel confident and comfortable. Sexy isn't a costume you pull on and off and it can't be someone else's vision of what sexy looks or feels like for you. If your look isn't authentic then you're forcing yourself into an artifical role, and I don't know about you but that's not a good look for me. My faux "sexy soccer mom" look was determined by an art director and makeup person. Who is determining yours? Celebrities and models? Fashion designers? Your man? Your girlfriends? Or do you decide your own sexy style?
Secondly, sexy on demand is unnatural and uninspired. It doesn't matter what someone else's expectations of you are, if you aren't feeling it, you can't work it. So always, to thine own self be true. Only then will the true WMS in you shine.
What do you think?