I love having my picture taken. When I'm comfortable with the photographer and feel good, I can be a real ham in front of the camera. Self portraits are different, though. I've felt some discomfort in doing them, although some days, when I really love my outfit and know the light is good and my hair came out looking not-a-mess, I have fun. More often, though, I'm aware of my vanity, and I feel uncomfortable.
I took on the daily Project 333 pictures after a colleague challenged me to stay honest and keep a visual record. Sometimes I take thirty or more shots until I see one that, with a little cropping, will show the outfit--okay, let's be honest, me--to best advantage. Is it insincere to not post the picture where I think my hips are too hippy or my nose looks too long? These parts make up the whole of me, and I love them for working well, for serving me with little or no pain, pretty well over the decades.
But when the parts don't look they way I want them to in a picture, I often dismiss the picture and find one in which they do.
As I thought about what this reveals about my vanity, I realized something else. That desire to present my image in a particular way, a way I'm overly fussy about, is exactly why I need Project 333 in my life.
I love clothes. I love new clothes. I love feeling that I have taken something classic and made it edgy. I love looking like I pay attention. Even if I no longer live a short train ride away from my beloved NYC, I love to imagine that I look like I do live there. I enjoy being complimented on a well-styled outfit.
All of this love, this vanity, is what packed my closet. I have classic pieces, pieces I know flatter and will be wearable for as long as they fit me. My vanity, though, would lead me to buy cheap trendy clothes to mix with the classics. Project 333 has made me realize that applying my core values to style moves me a little further away from the discomfort of vanity that results in spending money on cheap clothes that might have been made at a very, very high cost. I have realized that I can be more authentically me by dressing with fewer clothes, with clothes that fit beautifully and work together. I can share the excess that once burdened me. I can use my vanity in a different way: I can strive to dress elegantly from a small, well-thought-out wardrobe. The edginess comes not from the latest trend, in fact, but from my attitude.
I'll continue taking the self portraits. I like keeping records. I like learning to use my camera more effectively. I like the community that is developing around the pictures taken by P333-ers. A little vanity, harnessed for good, can, after all, be a virtue.
So I'm telling myself.
If you'd like to see all of my Project 333 outfits, visit them here.