40 over 40 project - Cristie is a Mother, Artist, Public Servant
I've felt like an old lady since my 20's
When I read Cristie's submission to be in the project, she immediately let me know that she wasn't going to be 40 until next year and that she probably wouldn't get in but thought she would tell her story anyway. Cristie suffers from Crohn's disease and has suffered poor health since 2000. Along with the Crohn's she also suffers from associated chronic arthritis. She explained "I do feel like I am well over 40 so I still want to enter on the off chance you accept my application".
I could relate to Cristie's chronic illness because of my own. It's an illness that people can't see, so people don't tend to understand it. She continues "I don't like to wear a badge labelling myself, so a lot of people don't know I have these issues, but I figure if it doesn't kill you it makes you stronger...so why dwell on it and let it identify you". I couldn't agree more.
So that was a good reason alone to include her in the project, but then I continued reading. When Cristie was young, she got picked on by her brothers and kids at school because of her fair skin...name calling like freckle face, Casper the Ghost, moon tan were common. As a result, she never had high self esteem and even now doesn't remember the last time she felt beautiful.
As she got older, she felt her self esteem improved slightly because she was able to hide her flaws behind makeup and tanning creams but has always envied the naturally beautiful people who can go swimming without worrying that their cover will be blown or go to a day spa and not avoid the facial as they would have to remove their makeup.
When it comes to being in photos, she thinks her 3yo and 5yo boys are much more photogenic so she spends more time snapping pics of them rather than being in front of the camera herself.
When I met Cristie, I couldn't believe how naturally beautiful she is and that she just couldn't see it. Then I realised she is like so many woman, finding flaws where other people wouldn't see them. She confided in me that she had nearly cancelled her shoot a few times because she was so worried about having her photo taken without makeup but she showed her true courage by pushing through her fear and I'm so so glad she did.
As well as being a mum to her little boys she is also an artist. Christie describes drawing as the only time she truly finds her Zen. She's had people tell her she should exhibit and sell her drawings but she just likes doing them for herself. She's had a few pieces commissioned but really likes to draw what she wants when she wants.
"I had spent the time since being notified that I was one of the lucky 40 quietly panicking. What had I gotten myself into?! I didn't really feel brave enough to get out of my comfort zone and be the centre of attention, I didn't think I needed or wanted photos of myself....my husband told me that he and the kids did!! I looked for and vocalised various excuses why I should pull out, my husband kept at me and ensured I did not.
By Friday morning I was just a little beside myself. I wasn't at all confident I had the right outfits, and was certain I would look like an uncoordinated goose in front of the camera. I've never had my makeup professionally done, let alone posing for a photo shoot, I was really unsure of what to expect.
When I arrived at the studio, Kylee opened the door to her studio with a big warm smile. She introduced me to Mel and then asked me to show the clothes I had brought along. After working out what they would have me wear, I was sat down for Mel to work her magic whilst dining on cheese, fresh strawberries and pink champagne. The more they talked, the more I felt like I was just hanging out with the girls, having fun.
Mel transformed me! When I got to look in the mirror, I had to look twice. She knew just what colours to use and how to do my hair to make me look and feel a million dollars. I was ready for my shoot!
As I awkwardly stood in front of Kylee with her camera for the light check, I felt a twinge of fear again. Then Kylee told me how she wanted me to stand, where to put my hands, how to hold my head, and how to look right into the camera. She took a few shots, then asked if I wanted to see.... When she showed me those very first shots, I cried! It was me, but I looked confident and dare I say it, beautiful! From that moment on, I just followed her instructions, I just allowed myself to let this be what is was...fun!
After several outfit changes, lots of laughs and many poses, we were done. I felt so happy I had come to do this, and based on the sneak peaks I saw on Kylee's view finder, I am so excited to see the final photos. I had a great session with some very talented ladies, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Thank you Kylee and Mel, so very much, for giving me this opportunity to sparkle!! xx"
Cristie, you sparkle as soon as you walk into a room and I'm so glad you got to see that through my lens. Say after me..."I am beautiful inside and out!"
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Cristie was a beautiful baby, a beautiful child, a beautiful adolescent & is now a beautiful women, inside & out. I know because I am her mum. Thank you for helping her to see her true beauty
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