Behind-the-Scenes: Real Women, Real Models
On Sunday, March 20th, Brass invited 10 customers to participate in Selfie Sunday: a professional photo shoot featuring real women. We were overwhelmed with the response. All 10 spots were claimed within hours of announcing the event. We wrapped the day feeling like this was one of the coolest, most inspired things that we have done since launching Brass. A big thank you goes to Lara, Kathy, and Rachel who made this happen and of course, to all of our beautiful models. Below is an account of the event by one of our gorgeous models and customers, Alexandra Mandzak.
The term “Selfie Sunday” might spark self-indulgent images of brunch and mimosas with the girlfriends, or perhaps being cozy on the couch, reading the day away. Maybe your way of treating yourself is to sleep late and spend the rest of the day in bed. My version of “Selfie Sunday” was a bit different. It was a day devoted not to the selfie but to the self as a whole—and the importance of making that self feel as beautiful as possible in body, mind, and spirit.
A couple weeks ago, I participated in Selfie Sunday, an event put on Brass which gave their customers the chance to model in a professional photo shoot. The photos would be used in the Brass Body Guide, an online guide that shows exactly what their clothes look like on women. Real ladies. With hips (like me). I wasn’t sure what to expect upon arrival at Brass’s office, but any trepidation I had quickly evaporated. The space was filled with women, and everywhere I turned, I heard snippets of conversation that were positive, encouraging and uplifting. The whole thing just felt like a hug.
First, I got fitted for a bra. Rachel from peach fitted me and took such care to fit me for the right size. She stuck with me and let me try on all of the bras. The winning one really did make a difference. I stood up straighter and pushed my shoulders back. Backfat was reduced (not gone, but only because we’re talking about a bra here, not a miracle). I had no idea that being in the right bra could have such an impact on the way my body looks under my clothes: leaner, longer, and perky!
Reader Tip: Are you wearing the right size bra? Check it right now. Actually, don’t bother. I’ll just tell you that you’re probably not. I learned that four out of five you reading this are wearing the wrong bra. That’s 80 percent of women! I was one of them. And based on the numbers, you’re probably one of them, too.
Next, I browsed the clothes. I ended up wearing the Band Dress because I am a woman who needs a cinched waist. This dress does the job perfectly. Also, it has pockets, so win-win. I was ready to move on to makeup with Kathy, a Beautycounter makeup artist. I don’t wear much makeup in my day-to-day life—generally just a tinted moisturizer and mascara, but always eyeliner. Getting my makeup professionally done was very new to me. Kathy deftly concealed and powdered me, shadowed and lined me. She put fake eyelashes on me (!), which was totally weird and cool. She was also full of tips and tricks.
Reader Tip: Kathy recommends that you choose between a bold lip or a bold eye. Intensify one, not both. She gave me the fake eyelashes, but only faintly lined my top lids and gave me a super bright red lip. Kathy also shared a trade secret: If you want to give your face a special pop of shine, rub a tiny bit of neutral eye shadow on your cheekbones, almost like bronzer. The effect is a barely-there sheen. I’ve been doing this for work lately and my coworkers love it.
Properly dressed and made up, it was time for to head upstairs for my time in front of the camera. I was nervous. Let me tell you, I am one awkward human being. And, like so many women, I have my share of body insecurities (particularly my upper arms and this funny little inner tube of flesh around my middle that, despite every effort, I cannot remove or even diminish). What I’m saying here is that I was completely out of my comfort zone standing in that empty room in front of a white wall, facing a camera-wielding professional whose aim was to capture my presence on film. But Lara. Oh. Lara from Studio Nouveau is not a photographer, she is a magician. In almost a breath, she made me feel relaxed and self-assured. She was so at ease with my discomfort that she was able to dispel it entirely. Lara truly knows how to make a woman feel her best, and she’s able to bring that out in her photos. Also, her studio is completely gorgeous—light and bright and lush. It is a place that makes you want to feel beautiful, and so you do.
In the end, this wasn’t just a photo shoot. It felt more like a celebration of womanhood and our perception of our selves. And here’s some real talk: Our perceptions of ourselves? They should be better. We’re our harshest critics when we should be our biggest fans. The whole day got me thinking. There is no doubt that “selfie” photos are silly, frivolous and superficial. But they are also attempts at capturing ourselves when we’re feeling our best, most beautiful and most secure. These are the pictures we post, that we return to most frequently in our albums, that we look back on when we need a little lift. And isn’t that the point of a selfie? My new go-to feel-good picture isn’t technically a selfie. It was taken by a professional, thanks to Lara and this event. But what she captured was—well and truly—my self. The feeling of beauty that the women at Selfie Sunday helped me to harness allowed me to feel inspired by myself. Is that narcissism? I don’t think so. Inspiring ourselves daily is our right. Allow yourself to be inspired by you.