This was not a Dove commercial. But, the face looking back at me just didn’t look like me.

As I write this, exactly one week ago, on Tuesday, April 16, the Huffington Post‘s Huff Post Women section included the Emma Gray article, “Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ Ad Campaign Tells Women ‘You’re More Beautiful Than You Think‘”.  The article focused on Dove’s newest ad campaign featuring an interesting — whether you love it or hate it — commercial.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look.

This isn’t a post chiming in on comments by some who have issues with the fact that the women chosen weren’t reflective of the diverse society in which most of us in the United States live, or whatever else is the gripe.  This is a post about something I experienced days later.

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Some time ago, I’d purchased a Groupon for a professional photography session — studio, lights, make-up artist — the works.  I needed headshots working in Corporate America, and really, I’d wanted a new set of professional photos.  The last time I’d treated myself, it was almost 20 years ago.

The date seemed to be rushing towards me.  I wasn’t ready.  Nope.  I hadn’t lost 20 pounds and my bellies were still where I left them…on me.  I needed more time. *panic*  Too late.  It was now the night before and I had an appointment first thing in the morning, on a Saturday morning, I might add (this was so nuts), and I couldn’t think of a reason to call to cancel.  Short of a family emergency or my own personal emergency that involved a hospital visit, there was no way out of this.  I had to go.  Bottom line:  I needed to find it in me to turn on the charm and turn off the nerves through what I envisioned would be excessive “cheesing” and three wardrobe changes.

It’s was a long time since I did one of these, and even then, it wasn’t professional-professional with lights, cameras and a true make-up artist.  Heck, the last time I did this, the photographer didn’t even use a digital camera!  (Those were not the “norm”.)  I had negatives.  All I really remember from that shoot are two things:  (1)  The scarf I had wrapped around my head framing my hair — yes, hair (because, you know, that’s stylin’…smh) and (2) my cousin plucked my eye brows for the first time into oblivion a night or two before. I could barely feel the top half of my face.  I was still hurting.

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Morning broke on Saturday and off I went — small suitcase in tow.  Yes, a suitcase.  (Look, I had clothes and several pairs of high heels.  Don’t judge me.)

Fast Forward:  The actual shoot was not as painful as I thought it would be.  The photographer made me extremely comfortable, I almost forgot about the 2 decade time lapse and 30 extra pounds I was carrying.  Then, it was over.  The last shot.  I had nothing but anxiety.  How would I look?  Would I have paid for this, gone through an intensive wardrobe prep, lugging a suitcase on a Saturday morning through Midtown Manhattan to a photo studio near Times Square only to then see the end result and be completely disappointed and deflated about how I looked?

Modern technology allows you to see things almost immediately — almost 250 shots.  Yes, that many.

As I sat in a chair looking at a computer screen about the size of a television, I thought: Is that me?  It didn’t look like me — full make-up that was shockingly natural and so frighteningly close to my skin tone, but the lights placed a glow over my entire body.  The face looking at me didn’t look like me.  They were beautiful (and not in a conceited way).  This is not how I picture myself.  It’s not that I don’t have photographs of myself or allow people to take snapshots of me or don’t look at myself in the mirror every morning, but in my head I see a face that, frankly, has seen better days.  Years of battling acne (since puberty), dark spots, bags under my eyes, not-so-smooth skin — that’s what I see.  I also see the body weight and a large head (an unfortunate family trait).

This was not a Dove commercial.  But, the face looking back at me just didn’t look like me.

It’s interesting, the older I’ve gotten, the more self-critical I’ve become.  I don’t remember being this critical even as a teenager.  Sure, I know I look a lot younger than my age (also a family trait, but a really good one.  The “look”, however, doesn’t hide the obvious flaws I see.  And notice, I didn’t say, “…I think I see.”  What I described earlier in the post is real in my head.  But, perhaps my brain and eyes are making things a lot more prominent than they actually are, evidently, because the photographer, the make-up artist, and several family members who I’ve since shared one of the photos, couldn’t be more complimentary.

This brings me back to the Dove commercial.  What’s in a face?  Obviously, a lot from someone (me) who is seemingly coming to terms with aging.

Is this what qualifies as a mid-life crisis?

How do you see yourself?  When you look in the mirror or look at a photograph of yourself, what do you see?  Would people describe you as you’ve described yourself?

Five-Inch Heels and Five Foodie Adventures. What?? Yes!

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Off to Las Vegas I went for a conference last week.  I was ready to experience the supposed “foodie” culture that had developed in the few years since my last visit.  Hmmmm….I’d see.

I had three places on my list to visit.  Unfortunately, my days at the conference would be long.  I knew I would only be able to make one of the three.  However, all was not lost.  With invitations to two private dinners (yes, I know, “winning” in every way), and one impromptu lunch, my visit to Vegas ended on a foodie high note.  Twenty-four hours after returning to New York, I was out to dinner with my favorite foodie partner-in-crime, @SingleGalNYC for a lovely French dinner.

With the exception of my last adventure (it was a rainy day), my 5-inch heels got a work out in balmy Las Vegas.  Believe me, I don’t leave home without them.

So, where did I go?  Take a look:

And for more adventures, hover over the second navigation area (above) entitled “Foodie Adventures” and continue hovering until drop down restaurant choices appear.

Enjoy!

P.S.  I started with the lot below.  I came to my senses (if you want to call it that) and removed two pairs before packing. smh.

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