The girl in the picture

During October, I had my photograph taken every single day. I was raising money for ovarian cancer research by taking part in Frocktober. The challenge was to wear a different frock every day of the month – and there had to be evidence.

So every weekday morning at 10am I’d gather with my fellow Frockettes in the office for a group shot, and every weekend I’d have a snap taken at home to prove I hadn’t slacked off and slipped into some trousers.

The images taken ranged from the straightforward and classy, like this…

Day 6

or this…

Day 28

to creative tableaux like this…

Day 9

to the downright silly, like this.

Day 23b

Every shot was composed in no more than a few minutes, and snapped on someone’s iPhone, so there wasn’t a lot of time for vanity. I didn’t think that would bother me. I’m not what most people consider high-maintenance. I don’t have a beauty regime beyond regular haircuts and I’ve never had a spray tan or a facial. Beauty salons speak a language I don’t understand and I only ever venture into one once every few years when I have to concede defeat in my own attempts to keep my curly eyebrows under control. I do make an effort to look smart and a little stylish if I can but it’s not the end of the world if I have to leave the house with no make-up on and wearing the clothes I’ve been doing the garden in.

I also don’t have my photo taken that often, and when I do, I am generally on holiday somewhere interesting – so the photograph becomes less about me than the location. I confess to having spent a bit of time thinking about what I would wear before I posed in front of the Taj Mahal (thanks for the pressure, Princess Diana) but generally I slap on a smile and just try not to look too goofy.

But as the month of Frocktober went on I found myself looking more and more critically at each picture. Almost every day, my eye was drawn to some flaw in my appearance: my uneven front teeth, my messy hair with its half-grown-out fringe, my upper arms that have lost a bit of definition since I gave up Pilates. I envied the others’ tanned skin, carefully coiffed hair and ability to smile without showing their gums. I even felt stupid for not being as good at pulling silly faces as some of the others.

My favourite shots of the month became those where I was obscured in some way, by a magazine…

Day 20

or by sunglasses…

Day 30b

I know it’s not just me who thinks like this. A friend once told me she’d been so disappointed when she saw her wedding photographs and realised that despite having spent more time and money on her appearance than any other day of her life, she still didn’t look like a model. Everyone else who saw the photos, of course, saw the reality – a beautiful, happy woman with the glow of someone in love.

Logic tells me that beauty is more than a bone structure, a skin tone, a shapely leg. When I look at photographs of people I love, I just see their brilliant personalities, their kind hearts and loyal friendship. Why can’t we see those things in ourselves?

It’s something I’ll keep working on. And in the meantime, I’ve raised more than $500 towards finding an early detection test for ovarian cancer. Now that is definitely a good look.

Visit the gallery to see all my Frocktober photographs. And it’s not too late to give! Visit my giving site here

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