A couple of weeks ago I thought it’d be a lot of fun to do a little photo shoot. I’ve got some crafty entrepreneurial friends and I’ve always had a lot of fun modelling their jewelry and clothing and accessories (Headband by Up and Up Creations; Jewelry by Fierce Deer). It’s really empowering and affirmative. But it’s also challenging when you see the photos after — some are great and some, well, not so great. It’s hard to push through those moments when you feel upset with how you look in the photo; maybe you wonder, as I’ve done, “why did they choose this photo?” It’s like you’re reliving your high school graduation photo shoot all over again. I try to have some real talk with myself in those moments, trying to cultivate some compassion for myself. Because I’m not always going to feel great about how I look in photos.
This was especially true last weekend when I was up at a friend’s cottage. A close friend took a photo of me and my partner and exclaimed: “Oh! It’s so good!” When she sent me the photos, I was horrified. I’m sitting there in my polka dot high-waisted bikini and all I can look at is my stomach — I had clearly not bothered to suck in for the photo. I hated that this was my first response. So I waited a couple of hours, did some processing, and came to this conclusion: “When I first saw this photo my eyes immediately went to my stomach and I thought “oh no! I should’ve sucked it in for the photo! It’s ruined!” But then I realized that the reason that I didn’t do that is because I actually feel super great in my high-waisted bikini (and the fact that I’m beside my super loving partner, being photographed by one of my besties, probably added to those good feelings). Having a body can be hard sometimes. But I want to post this photo as a celebration of all the good things in my life.” I felt so much better after posting the photo, but it was really hard to acknowledge that I still have some work to do in terms of my own relationship to my body.
While I love taking me some outfit selfies (see my instagram for evidence), there’s nothing like a really beautifully photographed moment, taken with an actual camera, by an actual photographer, to make you feel really good. Especially when that photographer is Angelina Coccimiglio. I first met Angelina through the Bunz Trading Zone, an underground secret (I guess not so secret)
Marxist** trading society on Facebook. She took some academic photos for a friend and I in exchange for groceries. She was so much fun — no problem making you laugh, which is awesome if you want those “oh look at me having this funny candid moment” photos. Which I totally did. These are the results (unsurprisingly, I wore floral):
So I messaged Angelina again and asked if she’d be interested in taking some more photos of me, this time for my blog. And she agreed! My vision was this: Fours Seasons of Floral. Because, well…floral is forever (at least in my heart). There’s this amazing laneway behind my apartment, so we went out, found some spots for photo ops (and places for me to covertly crouch and do outfit changes). It was such a blast. Not only does Angelina really know how to make a girl laugh, she really knows how to direct a shot (just take a look at the last two photos to see how brilliantly she posed my legs). She’s got an amazing eye for locations and looks. Plus she’s a super awesome human being. You should totally contact her if you’re ever looking for a photographer! So here are the results of our shoot! Hope you enjoy.
This is one of my favourite autumn floral dresses. And actually, I’ve worn this guy in winter and spring too, which is one of the reasons I love it (and nbd, just a beautiful shed of wood for you to pose in front of).
Another reason I love this dress: it has pockets! Why don’t all dresses have pockets? It’s seriously the best thing to happen to dresses ever. And what’s weird is that as I’ve started to move from shopping at places like H&M to buying my clothes second hand, I’ve realized that pockets in dresses have existed FOR A LONG TIME! But then something strange happened in the clothing industry and pockets disappeared. Now they’re back and I couldn’t be happier.
It also has these super adorable buttons that go all the way down the back. Cute, but also make getting this dress on and off a little bit challenging. My arms now bend in ways I didn’t think that they could. But it’s totally worth it.
Also, can we just have a moment to say just how great little ankle socks and shoes are? I want to wear little socks with flats, heels, boots, you name it.
When I was in NYC last fall, I went to Uniqlo for the first time and this dress was one of the things that I picked up there. It makes me feel like Wednesday Addams — if Wednesday Addams wore floral. You can’t really see in these photos, but it has the most adorable collar!
This little school-girl/librarian shoes are such a great find, but man oh man do they hurt the feet. I tend to wear them when I know that I’ll be sitting down for long periods of time. Or if I want to look a little sassy at a conference.
Spring (and into Summer) Floral
You might recognize this dress from my 30th birthday party post. It’s basically all that I could ever want in a floral baby doll 90s dress. Awesome colour palette, little buttons down the bustline, lots of room for my stomach to expand after I’ve eaten a large meal. It’s perfection.
These boots are perhaps one of the best things I’ve ever scored at a clothing swap. A friend of mine who has larger feet than me brought them, so I didn’t even bother to try them on. As it turns out, they were too small for her. It was made to be.
One of the things that makes me happiest about the arrival of spring, besides the fact that it’s not so bloody cold (thank you Toronto winters) is being able to bust out my denim jacket. I’ve been hunting for the perfect denim jacket for years, always finding ones that were good enough, but never quite right. It’s like I was in some sort of twisted fashion version of Goldie Locks and the Three Bears. But at the photo shoot I did at the Kind Exchange, stylist Denise Kerek found this guy for me.
Angelina and I’d actually planned to do all of the photos outside, but when she came into my apartment and saw how the light was coming in through the window, she thought we should take advantage of it. This is probably one of my absolute favourite dresses, and despite not being vintage, it has remained in my regular rotation for a couple of years.
Now, between my partner and I, there are four cats in our house — which is why we’ve named our place the “cat palace.” Naturally, all of the cats wanted to be in on the action, which provided certain challenges for my patient photographer. Every couple of seconds Angelina would exclaim at a tail that magically just popped itself into the frame, or she would wait for a little cat bum to remove itself from the perfectly posed image she’d just set up. Luckily, as you’ll see below, they’re so darn cute that it’s pretty easy to forgive them. Look at how good they are at posing (pictured: Mowat on the left and Ripley on the right).
** Many thanks to my friend Andrea for asking (via Facebook) whether or not BTZ (the Bunz Trading Zone) is actually Marxist. I asked my friend Cristina, who knows all the things about Marx, to respond (I love learning from friends). Here’s her response: I’m so pleased that other people have had this thought! Get ready for me to nerd out so hard on this: I actually think — and think Marx would think — that Bunz is intensely capitalist. First, it’s a product of a capitalist society in which people w/o the means of production cannot afford to buy new goods. Second, even though we aren’t allowed to use money, we haven’t dispelled the idea of a ‘universal equivalent’ for our exchanges entirely — people often trade for what they consider the monetary equivalent of their goods (‘hm I paid $50 for this shirt and wore it twice, so it’s worth less than half its value, about 5 tokens.’). Yes, many Bunz trades privilege use value over exchange value (like, who can put a price on a roadkill skull?), but once you have a monied economy it’s hard to conceive of commodities outside of that value framework. In terms of Marx’s thoughts on a bartering economy, he saw it in a historical sense as a step in the direction towards capitalist exchange — historical Marx might see a return to bartering as a regression, something utopian that inhibits our movement towards socialism and universal emancipation. He actually thinks the idea of exchange using money as a universal equivalent is pretty brilliant, albeit fraught with contradictions that will eventually bring down our whole society, but MMV). To be clear: none of this undermines my serious love for Bunz and all of the nice things that happen there (I will trade you my unused lipstick for espresso coffee ANYDAY). But is it Marxist or anti-capitalist? I’d say no.
This post was written by Margeaux