We all want to put our prettiest toenails forward when capturing memories that’ll be hauled out again and again during future Christmas and New Year’s gatherings, right?
But we’ve also experienced those horrified gag moments when we want to hurl our partially digested gingerbread cookies at hideous photos of ourselves.
Who wants to be mistaken for Maude the Christmas Moose?
During my travels and training as a public speaker, I’ve learned a few things about presentation. I’d like to share with you six tips for correcting common photo-graphical mistakes.
Toothy Extraction: At times we’re all carried away by the exuberance of the occasion and go a bit overbite – er, I mean overboard – in expressing our jubilance. It’s what I call the crazed baboon look … so much tooth and gum are showing that we look more frightening than gleeful. The answer to this problem is to invest five minutes in front of a mirror fine tuning your best smile. Seriously. Practice it every time you pass your microwave, toilet seat (ha!) or any reflective surface until it feels natural. Then later, in the fray of holiday elation, you’ll default to this smile instead of the scary wildlife one. A word of caution: fake looks, well … fake. If your eyes aren’t smiling too, your expression will look more like a grimace and people will think you’ve got a wedgie in your spanx.
Pull Your Cord. This is not the same as yanking your chain. During my UF [gator chomp] occupational therapy school training, I learned that the best way to correct sagging posture is to imagine that a cord is attached to your sternum (the breast bone between your bosom buddies). Simply pull the cord straight up toward the ceiling to elevate your rib cage; this will automatically align your ear, shoulder, hip and knee in a vertical line (side view), which is proper posture. Again, practice in the privacy of your home because the first few times you pull your cord, your bosom buddies will think they’re attached to Dolly Parton.
Color You Happy. I won’t tell you NOT to wear that gold-beaded winter white sweater you bought on the after-Christmas clearance rack last year. But I WILL remind you that dark colors slenderize and light colors tend to make us look larger. So instead of glimmering like Ski Slope Barbie in those festive photos, you might come across more like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Reds and jewel tones are happy colors for the holidays and tend to show up well on camera. But I would recommend combining bright colors with the following suggestion …
Get Your Bad Self Down. Whenever possible, casually (read: do NOT draw attention to yourself) move behind large objects or sitting people for group photos to camouflage your, um, non-assets. This is a little more difficult if a non-asset is your face. However, if you’re the only one – or one of a few people – in the photo, hold a prop (small object) or place your hands on the chair or person in front of you. Avoid the fig leaf position (hands folded over your secret garden, as King Solomon so eloquently called it) or holding your arms flat against your body (the skin tends to fan out). Instead, gently crook your elbows with fingers lightly together in front of your belly button, or better yet, caress that lovely ornament/prop mentioned before. The slight elbow crook should be enough to minimize your upper arm Dumbo flaps and allow a tunnel of backlight to shine beneath your armpit, creating a waist-slimming effect. Hear me, girlfriend: This is NOT the cheerleader stance (hands on hips), which is too faux-perky and way too obvious for a classy chick like you.
The Bridge Principle. If you have decent cleavage, buy amazing shoes. Stay with me now, it makes total sense. This will form a visual body bridge between the top and bottom of you so that inquiring eyes will slide directly from one end to the other, skipping over those troublesome hips in the middle. (Another Coty Near-Fact of Science!)
Put a Lid on it. Having a bad hair day? Or a major time crunch? Try my personal fave: top yourself off with a cute and festive hat. Socially acceptable and perfectly appropriate during these days of celebrating our Savior’s birth, even if you’re not normally a hat girl. You may be surprised at how many smiles and conversations kicky (no, not kinky – save that for your anniversary) headwear will solicit.
And the best tip of all: leave your stress mess behind and have yourself a blast!
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