I’ve had a couple of weeks to process my 4th Trimester Bodies Project experience as a photographer, writer, woman and mother. Things got deep around here. The product is gorgeous, but the experience as a whole, divine.
Ashlee Wells Jackson‘s studio is on the second floor of a house in residential Chicago. The space is warm, unassuming and filled with creative art and thoughtful objects. The kids got busy while Laura started my hair and make-up.
Ashlee and her daughter Nova were also in the room and the four (usually five, sometimes six) of us got to know one another. I was amazed at the bond between Ashlee and Nova; they were together throughout the entire shoot. I did not know then the extraordinary story of Nova’s birth but now I am even more awestruck and inspired by this mother-daughter dyad. You can read about Super Nova and her sister Aurora here: Bird Nest Egg.
Hair and make-up complete, it was time for a headshot and quick interview.
What’s your name?
How old are your children?
Why are you here?
Ashlee coached me before starting (i.e. “respond in the form of a statement”) and then I got to tell a bit of my story. There was a time when the weight of the words “Arlo was my sixth pregnancy” pulled me to my knees and left me there, but with every opportunity to speak them I stand a little taller. Thank you Ashlee for that gift.
Everything moved smoothly and with admirable efficiency. I felt as if I was with old friends but the purpose of my being there did not get lost in wistful camaraderie. The whole afternoon was a showcase of convivial professionalism.
Down to bra and underwear and with the kids ready too, Ashlee gently guided us to our positions then walked back to her camera and said to me, “Now your job is to just be with your kids.” Then she started shooting. Just like that. Immediately. There was no time to
suck in my gut,
elongate my neck,
lose the double chin
or angle my hips away from the lens.
“Just be with your kids.” Is this purposeful? I suspect it is as Ashlee clearly knows what she’s trying to elicit from her subject: mothering, not modeling. It works. When I helped choose this final shot (yes! you choose the final shot with as much input from Ashlee to move the process forward) I didn’t look at me. I only saw Arlo and Farrah Star: “They’re looking into each other’s eyes!” ”He’s touching her foot!” ”Both his dimples are in this one!” It was not an easy choice as Ashlee’s work is incredible, but the point is this was not a portrait of me and my kids like I thought it would be. I was not photoshopped. I was not posed. This is a portrait of me mothering my kids and when I mother my kids I do it full-hipped, soft-bellied and unfiltered. The 4th Trimester Bodies Project held up a mirror to my motherhood and blinded me with love.
I’m so grateful to Ashlee. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Do it for yourself and please give generously to this important project:
Farrah Star, a living tweet:
Do you tweet? Nevermind, I would know as I recently joined Twitter and the first thing it (she? he?) does is find all your tweeting friends. What was the last thing you tweeted? What’s your favorite thing about tweeting? Can you tell I have a four-year-old? I joined Twitter to push BPS on another audience and while I find the 140-character platform highly appealing I don’t know if I have that much pith to go around. Maybe I could tweet my facebook status but that just seems lazy despite all the copying and pasting involved. Work, work, work. I occasionally look at my Twitter feed for fun (“I need to see other people, Pinterest.”) and sometimes, like above, it can be hilarious but usually it just gives me a headache. I follow a lot of comedians and it’s clear I need to expand my list because Rainn Wilson, Ellen Degeneres and Patton Oswalt tweet 283 times a day. Each. The volume, the repetition (re-tweets!) and all of it written in today’s hieroglyphics @#@#@# makes my eyes burn — not unlike Farrah Star’s on her baby monitor.
I love being part of the social media fray but when it comes to Twitter I think I might just dip my tweet in.
Oh hey! Follow me on Twitter! @blackpantysalv (#hypocrite)
I'm shaving my head to benefit St. Baldrick's Foundation on March 16. This series will document why I'm doing such a thing.
This is the longest my hair has been in nearly four years. It is ghastly in style and function but it does make an appealing series of bedheads.
This is how I face the world once out of bed.
I have very straight hair. It takes 15 minutes until every strand falls forward and hangs there for the rest of the day.
This is why I like to keep my hair very short and why I’m currently going insane.
Speaking of insane, I bought some of that cheapie hair dye and become blonde today.
Well, less blonde and more gold.
As a Deep Winter I would never - could NEVER (gasp!) – have that much gold next to my face but that’s what you get for $4.99. I do plan on going blonde permanently so this is a fun, if tainted, trial run. I’ve also got a bottle of neon pink at the ready. Top of my head, party for one please.
In 11 days I am going bald. I’m ready.
If you would like to donate to St. Baldrick's to help fund childhood cancer research, please click here.
I went looking for a sign of life and found nothing.
And no one.
Dull, flat, freezing and empty.
Red brought a glimmer of hope.
Fleeting at best.
We can expect temperatures to climb to the 20s this week which I think is pretty fucking reasonable for March. Invoking the f word means I’m still angry and being angry is better than being sad, right? Fuck yeah. And fuck you winter. I’m so sick of your germ-sharing, sloth-inducing claustrophobic bullshit.
Let this be my swan song on the topic.
Tomorrow is Farrah Star’s First Birthday. My darling, my jewel, my god my daughter. Today I look back in the same way I look forward: in awe of the treasure before me.
How it all began:
And something bubbly for the celebration:
Thanks for being a part of it all. Happy Weekend!
When I wrote about dying that one time (only once? really?), the internet totally got on board with the idea. I know this because seconds after posting, my facebook page was populated with these ads:
Awww…look how white.
Today at preschool drop-off, a friend shared how Spotify keeps suggesting she listen to Jack Johnson because she listens to Dave Matthews but she does not like Jack Johnson, so she keeps suggesting Spotify go eff itself (my words). Give it up, friend. The internet will tell you what you should like and who to listen to and how to prepare your family for your impending death. Because hey – you were the one who brought it up!
“What would happen to your children if something happened to you?” More importantly, what would happen to your children’s remaining parent if something happened to you? I have made sure Kris can spend all his time wallowing in sadness after I’m gone by staying organized now.
Nope, no need to remarry. Just focus on your loss/me.
Roughly 98% of these clothes have been handed down to Farrah Star. Our friends are so awesome and generous that I don’t have to buy anything for my babe for until she’s three years old. If I did though, I sure would load up on Tea Collection this week! Free Shipping brought to you by my son’s preschool!
Say! You should shop Tea Collection this week too!
And THAT internet, is how you advertise.