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Eyes up, heart open

Carla Ten Eyck

Finding Myself at 45 Through a Melissa McCarthy Movie

Finding myself at 45 looking exactly like my daughter

Finding Myself. Last night my 13 year old daughter Georgie and I went to see the newest Melissa McCarthy movie that’s out, Life of the Party. Jackson was at a party with friends and it was just us and we wanted to just snuggle and laugh. Plus we are both really big fans of Melissa McCarthy. What I had assumed would be a nonsense feel good movie (which, let’s be honest, it totally was) turned me on my ass later, and left me a wrecked, sobbing mess.

Let me explain.

Growing up, I was the same size as my daughter is now. In fact, this past November she wore a prom dress that my Mom custom made me for a prom I attended during my freshman year of high school and it fit her perfectly! I was SHOOK. My entire life I have always thought I was so fat, and so on the cusp of ever being anything mainstream attractive or desirable. Realizing now that I had been in the size 4/6 range for the formative years of high school, literally shook me to my core. All I remembered was feeling so self conscious and all I remembered seeing was every imperfection. My knees. My thunder thighs. My small beady eyes. You all have that same list running on an endless loop in your brains, I am sure, and despite being such a self professed confident woman these days, I thought my list was silenced. I am happy, I tell myself. I am HAPPY to be single and confident and busy with life; involved with my family and my close friends; creating powerful work for my clients and inspiring others with my cheerful chatter about life.

And then I saw Life of the Party.

Which, if you saw it, maybe you are shaking your head and not really getting my point. See, forever I have had many people tell me how beautiful I am; how confident I come off, how I light up the room when I walk in. I have even caught someone breathing deeply when they were near me, because they were so happy to just share the same airspace! (Restraining order time, I know, but it was endearing at the time) I realize the power of the stories we tell ourselves and when another thing comes up that threatens to topple my inner chatter and make it all come crashing down, like a weird new vein that pops out on my leg, I take a deep breath and tell myself that I am more than just this body that I am in. I am enough.

What toppled me last night was how beautiful Melissa McCarthy’s character, Deanna, was. Once they had their cheesy movie makeover in the frat house bathroom and she lost the bedazzled cat sweater and let her tight Mom curls soften out a bit, she was a glowy, gorgeous woman. Beyond her physical appearance though, I saw how endearing her character was, how good she made everyone feel. How she embraced every situation with a positive attitude, cooked meals for others and listened to their life woes. How straight up SMOOTH her moves were on the dance floor! She was a sexual being, and she was kind and had amazing close friends.

I SAW ME.

My throat was tight the whole movie, as I realized what I was realizing. I had said in a podcast interview  that I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I could just not imagine anyone ever looking at me and thinking ‘Yeah, I wanna hit THAT’ and kind of laughing when I said it… but I meant it. As sad as it was to say, it felt sadder to mean it. It felt like the ever-present hill I have to climb, much like Sisyphus, never reaching the top, just digging into the struggle. The struggle of how I could finally see myself as a truly beautiful and desirable woman. Despite the fact that when Deanna has a passionate sexual affair with a much younger, very attractive man in the movie I had to listen to some obnoxious teen girls say how ‘Disgusting’ that was. It took everything in me not to turn around and absolutely go OFF on them, but I didn’t want to ruin the night for my daughter. It stung, because SHE WAS ME, and these stupid asshole teenagers thought a hot guy having sex with an overweight woman was disgusting.

So then I must be disgusting, too.

Enter today. This weekend was supposed to just be crappy all around, so I planned on digging into some editing work and organizing my office space. After editing for a few hours I saw that the rain had stopped and the sun was gloriously shining through the clouds. I immediately thought back to this amazing little nook I happened upon the other day when driving Georgie and her friends to their school dance. It was a giant bush dripping with wisteria, and the sun was back lighting it in the most magical way, it literally took my breath away! I knew the weather would be crappy and the blooms were going to be on their way out and I was so disappointed; but then today I had a small, tiny window where we could actually pop over for some quick shots!

I asked Georgie if she was down to clown and she was (DUH) so we took a few minutes to throw some things on and curl up my hair (just not in those tight Mom curls that Deanna was rocking ha ha ) and I slapped my 85mm 1.4 on my Nikon D4 and we headed over to the wisteria nook. I showed Georgie where I wanted her and then told her focusing the 85 (it’s old as dirt) and holding my D4 with one hand and maneuvering the reflector would be hard but she dug in and figured it out.

What transpired are the absolute MOST AMAZING photographs of me I have ever seen!! I love so many of them, it was hard to choose a favorite- WHO EVER SAYS THAT ABOUT THEMSELVES?? (I mean, except my clients, DUH because hellooooooo) but you know what I’m saying! This photo shoot, paired with that different dimension of seeing myself  as others see me has just sent me into another spiral of deep reflection. I am so happy that I have proof that I can look at now, that I AM indeed a beautiful and desirable woman, and not because of any photo trickery but because it is something that I can now feel in my heart.

The best part of all of this? My daughter created these images of me! She was with me during all of these deep realizations. That she sees herself as a beautiful young woman as well, and feels confident in front of a camera and is just herself. Confident in her room drawing or reading, or cooking up stir fry while I write this post. Thank you for taking the time to read this rambly post and to look at these stunning images of me and my kind and amazing daughter!

 

 

Finding Myself at 45 portrait of my daughter by wisteria Finding myself at 45 a portrait of me by wisteria Finding myself at 45 a portrait of me in black and white

Finding myself laughing so hard!

Finding myself in black and white, too!

Finding myself at 45 laughing by the wisteria

Check out the trailer for Life of the Party!

You can see more posts about my kids:

Snowy Day with the kids 

 

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12 Comments

  • Ezzie

    I love reading your posts and these are absolutely stunning of you and your babe! Thx for being so authentic n real!????

    Reply
  • YAAASSSSS. Gorgeous, vulnerable and SEEING the beauty that we see and love! You are YOU and desirable and perfect with all the imperfect stuff you have going on in your head. We all have it — and how we each deal with it is the stuff of life long journeys. I’m THRILLED to see you stop along the way and breathe in and go — I’m here. I’m with my daughter and showing her how to be vulnerable and step into that mess in your own head. Love this post. Love you and GG — LOVE THE PICS. You NAILED IT SISTER. xoxo T

    Reply
  • Amanda

    Love reading this. Love you. You are gorgeous in and out baby girl. Never doubt that! XOXO

    Reply
  • Carla, you are a beautiful woman who’s inner beauty shines as bright as the sun. I loved you and your positive energy from the first moment we met and I am so happy for you and that you get to share your love of photography with your daughter. I love seeing your connection and relationship. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal and wonderful memories. Xoxo & miss you lots! love, cat

    Reply
  • “How she embraced every situation with a positive attitude, cooked meals for others and listened to their life woes. How straight up SMOOTH her moves were on the dance floor! She was a sexual being, and she was kind and had amazing close friends.”

    Carla, this perfectly describes my very first (and almost all of those that came after) impression of you. You are magnetic and beautiful and one of the most spirited people I know on this planet. Don’t ever doubt your allure. It is magically yours and yours alone. ????????????

    Reply
  • I love that movie. I love you & your girl. And I love these images! I can so so relate – I cried a few times at that damned movie. And I don’t think I would have been able to hold back on those girls!! <3 xoxo

    Reply
    • Carla Ten Eyck

      I wish you were with us at the movie! I was pissed…! can’t wait to hear what parts made you cry!

      Reply
  • Eileen

    Well, shit. I gotta see this movie. I love this post and I LOVE these photos!! You are my favorite. And I am having a struggle around this lately, too. We don’t see ourselves fairly or objectively so it’s hard to reconcile. I’m so happy you found this dreamy pocket of wisteria and at just the right time for such an important a-ha moment. ❤️ Also I want this spot in my yard.

    Reply
    • Carla Ten Eyck

      It is hard to reconcile, and it’s a daily process of seeing ourselves, accepting who we are and loving ourselves. Also, yes I want this wisteria nook on my lap right now!

      Reply

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