Monday, January 16, 2006

self portrait tuesday

This is my third entry for the Personal History Theme for Self Portrait Tuesday.

In junior high and in the beginning of high school, I collected old prom and wedding dresses. When I saw a formal dress at the Salvation Army or at a thrift store it was, for me, simultaneously a tragedy and a treasure. My natural impulse was to care for it. I hung them on my wall instead of posters or calendars, and I brought life back to them with my own fantasies of family and good times no matter how torn the lace or netting was; no matter how rimmed with dirt the cuffs and hems were. I tried them on often.

A next door neighbor during this time was a photographer. I cleaned her apartment, as I did for a couple of my neighbors, and one day she asked me to pose for her in one of my dresses. We went to the bluffs above the beach as the sun set. I wore my favorite wedding dress with no shoes. Instantly, I was embarrassed to expose myself in this way to her, to the pedestrians on the bluff. But she most likely knew she could capture a photo like this one even if it was at my expense at the time.
I am seventeen here.

20 comments:

Rebel Girl said...

I always check in on Tuesdays to check you out - you posted a little early this time - good for me.

I like the image of your room upholstered by these dresses, your desire to care for them...

acumamakiki said...

I love that you collected these dresses. Do you still have them? What a great photo and I love the story that goes with it.

Regina said...

I dig it....alot. Your's has become the first page I check in the morning with my coffee.

Marigoldie said...

Here is a girl way beyond seventeen.

Ibarionex R. Perello said...

Very cool story and very cool image. I love the image of all those dresses up on the wall. You know you're going to have use that at some point or I'm going to end up stealing it.

Server Girl said...

wow...only 17...? What a pretty picture :)

la vie en rose said...

oh wow! you are beautiful and your expression is so vulnerable. i imagine it would have been very hard to stand there and pose...almost feeling as if you were naked.

Bethany said...

You don't look seventeen at all. Mature, yet still kind of vulnerable in the eyes.

madness rivera said...

Thanks for the comments. I do not have the dresses any more. They didn't survive the many moves. But I have such a clear image of my dresses covering the walls of my room.

I remember most being surprised that this was the look on my face when I was instructed to "just look into the camera." It's hard to look at this photo sometimes.

Glamorous Jo said...

Stunning. This photo definitely tells a story.....

HollyRhea said...

I had New Kids on the BLock posters on my walls.

tina said...

Seventeen. Wow.

Madness, your drinkable dressing is fast becoming legendary. I plan to try it as soon as I'm in a country where the ingredients are available.

madness rivera said...

Do I really look much older than 17? So hard to see myself objectively.

Tina - awesome! The Madness Drinkable Dressing SHOULD be legendary. It's amazing. It's drinkable.

Joelle said...

It's a beautiful picture of a beautiful girl!

Janine said...

I love this story, the dresses on your walls, and the stories of happiness you made to go with them. Your picture is stunning, and the others are right, you look far beyond 17 it is in your eyes.

melanie said...

Dresses hung on your wall instead of posters -- I love that. You in that photo -- you seem older than seventeen. Perhaps because of the makeup and pretty dress, but more so because there's something about your eyes -- like you know things, like you sort of had to grow up fast. Yet at the same time you seem innocent and vunerable. Beatiful SPT!

Michelle Fry said...

What a very cool thing to collect as a teenager.

andrea said...

wow, I love this. the photo of you... yes, so vulnerable and beautiful. this is what it means to be 17, I think. at least that's how I remember it. and the story! priceless.

Misty Mawn said...

Beautiful picture. WOW!!!

bettyboop said...

classic expression-i remember that look. cute hair too.
b