As we grow into adulthood everything from schedules to sharing teach us an all important lesson:
Our needs and wants are secondary to our responsibilities.
If we’re going to survive the harsh world, we must learn to control our dreaming. So we tamp our flighty emotions down and put our soul’s needs second to the daily grind. All the while something silently seethes inside us needing desperately to be fed.
It is a universal truth that we all need and deserve to feel beautiful, attractive and worthy of the life we seek.
We need confidence to take the first step against the current of the day job we “should” have for security. And those first few steps are a dizzying and terrifying prospect. Walking your talk is never first nature or easy. Sometimes working towards a dream brings us success in ways we can’t imagine.
Sometimes it’s rather unconventional.
A few years into my career as a pinup artist I was offered the opportunity of a feature in Playgirl Magazine. They had a feature called “Who’s That Playgirl?” I was excited as it would be my first national feature in a magazine. But when the editor asked for a self-portrait I balked.
Still overweight, I didn’t have a photo of myself that I liked.
I was definitely the secret kind of photographer who preferred to stay behind the scenes.
If you’re my Facebook friend, you’ll see it has changed quite a bit. (Too much, perhaps?)
My best friend (and a talented therapist) Angela Dailey gave me some Southern straight talk,
“You tell women not to wait to do pinup photos because you believe it will help them, no matter what age or size they are. It’s time for you to walk your talk.”
And so we set up a photo shoot specifically to take a portrait of myself that I would paint and would be Playgirl-worthy. I set up the camera and lights, Jen did fab hair and makeup and Angela took pictures and coached poses. It was monumentally difficult for me to be in front of the camera. Not just because I was self-conscious about how my body would look.
All my fears swirled making me question if we were ready for this.
Was my work the right caliber? How on Earth could I make a painting of myself as good as my favorite paintings?
There are moments when your fears might stop you from learning to say yes to the next stage of your dream.
I’m so glad that Angela pushed me past my discomfort. Doing the shoot taught me more about how my clients must feel and I was even better able to coach them after that.
The article was a thrilling accomplishment. If a tad embarrassing because everyone thinks a pinup painting of me should have been in Playboy. (Thank GOD it wasn’t! How would I explain that to the Bub?)
I remember walking into Borders in Boulder, Colorado and trying not to be seen as I requested a copy of PLAYGIRL.
It was summer, so a trench coat would have singled me out. I did keep my sunglasses on with the excuse of a migraine should anyone question it. Of course, the cashier behind the counter was a very handsome man. Who chuckled and smiled at my request. I was humiliated and I didn’t even have a copy in my hand yet.
After an embarrassing discussion about WHY I wanted a copy and his smile to hear that I had a self-portrait in it… I finally got the copy and quickly left the store.
It’s thrilling to share accomplishing a dream with friends and family.
I called my uncle, and big supporter, to tell him how excited I was to have a copy. He was nearby and came to meet me at Starbucks so I could show him.
Opening the magazine and finding my article while simultaneously ignoring the sexy pictures was a challenge. Sort of funny when you’re trying to not show your uncle lady porn on a windy day in Boulder.
My Grandma Mary always liked to get updates on my career. I couldn’t leave out my first national magazine. So I tried to broach the subject without telling her exactly which magazine. She asked if I’d accomplished anything in my career recently.
I replied, “Well, actually. Yes. I’m being published in my first national magazine!” I hoped the conversation would end there.
Her voice perked up, “Oh really? Which magazine?”
I was silent for a moment. I couldn’t lie. But I couldn’t make myself say the words. My voice finally went up at the end, like a question, “Playgirl?”
She was quiet for a moment. Then she let out a little chuckle and her Southern accent crooned, “Well, we all have to start somewhere.”
I’m so proud of my Playgirl feature. I tell everyone.
I would have missed accomplishing a dream and growing quite a bit if I had passed on the opportunity.
We have to push past what feels comfortable to dream and push farther to actually see them come to fruition.
The best advice I can give is to lose all expectations. Life is funny and funnier when you stop trying to control how your dreams unfold. Go find your Playgirl dream and laugh along the way.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, Iman Woods.