It especially kicks in when I have to have my picture taken by photographer friends, which is what I'm doing right now, whilst writing this. I'm posing with my iPad as a prop, and such is my hatred of photo taking that I had to actually write a post, with one finger, to distract myself from horrible, cringe situation.
This is for something blog related, but it seems to be the most recent of a whole new host of photo or film opportunities. Who knew cancer could be so productive? Anyway, the first time such an opportunity arose, it was completely un-sickness related. My agent called with a possible TV thing (being a beauty journalist sometimes throws up such a request), and as I was mentally calculating my work diary around my treatment diary around my projected bad days diary to see if it was feasible, she asked me something I hadn't even considered till then. 'But how will you feel about being on film at the moment?'
Absolutely fine, was my first thought. Before cancer I would have had worries about how my unpredictable skin would choose to behave on filming days. This is often a problem for beauty editors - we can't settle into a good skincare regime, because, if we're worth our journalistic salt, we have to try out a lot of different products all the time. But like I say, at the time I really hadn't looked better, I'd got over the shock so I didn't look so deranged, I still had a healthy brow and lash presence, my fake fake tan had just kicked in and I swear chemo destroys spots as well as everything else - something about the bacteria right? I must ask.
Today though, not so confident. There are a few reasons, one being the bags under my eyes from a tough treatment cycle. (It could be the snorer in my bed every night of course) The other is my poor, battered lashes. They're still hanging in there, but now more as the Mr Burns of the eye lash world - they wilt under the weight of mascara. And my eyebrows are so sparse the pencil doesn't grip so well.
I'll be honest, it can get to you sometimes, and I'll tell you what it is, but only after I tell you it's entirely fixable - you just have to reinstate confidence in yourself by making the extra effort with makeup and outfit and wig enough times to remember what you really look like, because this is only a temporary sh!tter after all.
The thing is, the chemo look is very very generic. I didn't know facial hair could be so pivotal to your identity, but take it away and we do pretty much all look the same, to the untrained eye at least. It's still a shock to think and feel you look like one person, and then see someone else when you look in the mirror. And since that reflection becomes much more common than the done up one, it's generic cancer girl that you start associating with yourself after five cycles of chemo. Hence the photo-phobia.
Aside from my confidence/height-boosting-Skovgaard shoes, I'm lucky to have Jose on my shoot today, who is miraculous with makeup, so he tweaked my early morning bathroom efforts to make them camera friendly. For those of you who don't have him, here's his tips:
1. Stick on eyelashes. This is obvious, but for some reason I was reluctant. But Mr Burns could definitely do with crutches, both metaphorically and in real (TV) life. Jose recommends Ardell Invisibands Wispies, "They're the most natural lash you can get".
2. Plum kohl eyeliner. "Because it works with your ginger barnet" but also because it gives a stronger lash line, without being too much of a contrast to your skin.
3. Taupe (i.e. not too bronze or pink) contouring. To frame your face, and also make it not so flat on film, because whether you are fake fake tanned or not, you can look pale when flashed. I'm using MAC powder blush in Sincere.
4. Bright lipstick (my favorite coral shade, no.7 in Gay Geranium). Brightens your whole face, gives you 'happy lips', and takes attention away from your, these days, frankly disappointing eyes.
Phobia (almost) averted.
I still haven't looked at the shots yet mind...
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