I guess I was around 31 years old when I stopped jumping in front of the camera every time someone yelled “Cheese!” At 31, I had just given birth to my son, Temp, and I was struggling to shed the baby weight I had gained compliments of a fierce cheese ball/Ruffles potato chip craving. I eventually lost at least some of the pounds, but I never regained my attraction for having my picture taken. Until this day, I jump for cover anytime a bright light flashes around me.
I have my mother to thank for the fact that there is at least some photographic evidence of my existence over the last 20 years. A few times a year – usually on birthdays and at Christmas – she manhandles me to the front of the lens for a few family snaps; I’m grateful for that. The funny thing about my pictures – they get better over time. It takes about 10 years, I’ve found, to start looking good in a picture. At 40, I was shocked to see how non-awful I appeared in the baby pictures I took with Temp and my stepchildren, Chad and Candice. I remember vividly feeling physically ill when looking over the proofs. I carefully culled all but one or two and tucked those as far back in the photo album as I could manage.
Recently I was forced to overcome my distaste for the camera because of my book, “Illuminating Gracie.” My BFF/PR agent, Kim Carr, graduated from asking to nagging to finally showing up at my door with a professional photographer, a “mood” candle and a half a Xanax in order to get the author photo for the back cover. There is nothing like seeing your face plastered on the back of 1000 books to cure you of a photo phobia. At least I know that by the time I’m 60, I’ll look like a rock star on the back of the book.