Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Sun

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Here are the previous posts relating to the fashion editorial:

Part One: Introduction explaining why I did the fashion editorial 

Part Two: the “Trapped” set

Part Three: the “Warrior” set

I will add a link to the final post in the fashion editorial series when it’s up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Gaia

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Lioness

There is a time to fight

to rage

to hunt with the

skill of a lioness

to wage a private war

against the darkness

of the soul

and fears

and lies

that bind the heart

and wound the mind

for all of this

there is a time

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Walking in Light

But now I walk

bathed in light,

The hours are golden

And I am right to take off

the armor,

lay down the spear

the more I stop caring

about what you think

the less I fear

the dark

the more I embrace

who I really am

and fall in love with living,

the more I am at peace.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: I SeeI see you now in a different light

the candles, the fight, the way

you saw me and

how I saw myself

it wasn’t right—any of it—

broken, jagged shards

making you my enemy

when what we really are

and always will be

are fellow wanderers

on this journey

together

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Resting

I close my eyes to rest,

to breathe

for once not haunted

by what I’ve been told

by what I’ve seen

or the fears of what will happen

if I dare to be

more than what you thought

I should.

 Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Dreaming

I dream

of love that burns away

the hate and lies

a love so strong

that judgment dies

and all that remains

is the fiery knowledge

that there is a time

to learn to be wise

to open my eyes to what is true:

that you,

that I,

we are part of something good

sacred

divine

and beneath all the pain

that drives us apart

what matters is

I must see your heart.

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Eyes Open

If you like my writing, you should check out my books! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Flowers” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Enemy

This is Part 3 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here (intro), part two here (the “Trapped” photo set), and part four here (the “Flowers” photo set). I will add links to the other posts relating to the fashion editorial once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Minerva

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Who I AmThey think they know me.

They’ve got me filed, slotted, defined.

Fenced in by the color of my skin

my hair

my eyes

the size of the gap between my thighs

and my waist-to-hip ratio.

 

They think they can

tell me who I am

because anyone who says the things I say

can only be a certain way.

It has to fit the pattern.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: ArmorFools. They only see the things

I let them see.

It’s all body armor, down to the last dangly earring

protection from prying eyes and sharp tongues

a shield for my heart.

They can’t see inside of me

where every day I do battle

against the echoes of their voices

their faithful soldiers warring on

long after they have gone.

 

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Silent BattleI fight their quiet whispers.

A sword makes no sound as it slices through flesh,

so it is with words

and images

the unspoken ways they have

of cutting up my heart.

 

I fight

a silent battle

against their judgment

against their hate

against the part of me that waits

for them to change and wants their love.

I battle that most of all.

 

I’ve come to see

they’re not my enemy

not really.

It’s me.

But I’m still trying to find

a suit of armor for my mind.

Can I negotiate a truce

for peace

or will this struggle never cease

between the part of me that’s soft and cares

what they believe

and this warrior rising up, she

who laughs at their demands

like a goddess

who doesn’t give a damn?

Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Warrior Rising

If you enjoyed this poem, please give my books a try too! Right now, I’m writing a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Warrior” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page. All photos from the fashion editorial are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or photos without written permission of the author. 

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

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Hot Boys in YA Fiction: Just Fun or Unfair?

YA Fiction: All the Boys are HOT

In the Guardian today is this interesting article: Is teen romantic fiction bad for boys? | Childrens books | theguardian.com

Boy with glassesThe gorgeous guys of young adult romantic fiction do a disservice to real life teen boys, with their acne and braces, says blogger Millie Woodrow-Hill

I have to admit–I can see the author’s point. YA fiction is full of hot boys, bad boys, impossibly-mature-for-their-age boys. Girls love it (and what’s not to love?), but it does send the message to boys that hotness is to be found in one’s muscles, dreamy eyes, low voice, beautiful face, and rebel devil-may-care attitude. Is this unfair or damaging to boys who don’t fit the criteria?

Boy with red hairMaybe. And maybe it’s damaging to girls, too, who could possibly overlook wonderful, but not hot boys who haven’t filled out yet, or who have bad skin and high voices.

On the other hand, Ms. Woodrow-Hill should remember that every time we are in the point of view of a book character, that person is an “unreliable narrator.” We only see the story from their perspective–and so we are fenced in by their biases, their personal tastes, their thoughts, their interests, and their desires.

And when it comes to romance, finding the other person incredibly attractive is kind of key, right? I mean, it wouldn’t be a romance if the heroine thought, “Gee, this guy is nice, but butt-ugly and I can’t imagine ever wanting to kiss him.” Maybe she might start out feeling that way, but there’s going to be something about the boy that makes her change her mind. Otherwise, we might have an amazing story, but it’s not going to be a romance. The literary genre “romance” always includes physical attraction in addition to the growth of a romantic relationship.

Boy with capSo of course our unreliable (i.e. biased) heroine is going to find her hero attractive. And in YA fiction, those feelings are always heightened, as they tend to be for teens and young adults. So the boy is not just “attractive,” he is insanely hot–to that particular character. 

Could we write more stories where the heroine finds a conventionally-unattractive boy hot? Probably. Would readers accept it? I don’t know.

But there’s another element to this–the imagination of the reader. When the heroine says “this boy is hot” the reader creates an image in their own minds of what that means. It may be influenced somewhat by the description in the book, but I guarantee that the reader’s own mental picture is going to outweigh even the book description. The reader is going to create that character into what the reader finds hot, and that will be quite different for each reader.

Boy 4So there’s a lot going on here–experiencing a story is a joint effort between the author and the reader. And I will be the first to admit that as authors, we need to try to bring more diversity into YA fiction. It’s not just not-so-hot boys being left out of our stories. What about gay teens, or disabled characters, or main characters that aren’t Caucasian? The people we present as interesting story characters are very limited, and I do think we can and should do better on this.

I do disagree with the author of the article when she suggests that YA fiction heroines are generally “awkward,” “clumsy,” or “out-of-place.” YA fiction heroines tend to fit conventional ideas of beauty and they always discover that they have amazing skills or talents they never dreamed of.

What Ms. Woodrow-Hill is forgetting is that concept of the “unreliable narrator” again. The heroine of YA fiction may see herself as clumsy or awkward or unattractive. But that usually turns out to be a matter of her own warped self-image and not actually the unbiased truth about her.

Boy kissing girlAnd I think that’s the point of a lot of YA fiction and why it is so popular with girls. Being a teenager (of any gender) is hell on the self-image. The appeal of these books is not so much the hot boys, though hot boys are fun. It’s the idea that no matter how insecure and doubtful I feel about myself, something is going to happen to prove me wrong, something that will show me that I am desirable, that I have potential, that I am so much more than I thought I could ever be.

I highly doubt that YA romance is causing vast numbers of young girls to expect fantasy hot boys instead of real-life flawed boys. Girls already do that, with or without books, just as boys do. We are all shaped by our culture’s definitions of beauty and attractiveness. Those expectations leave scars on our self-image, no matter what gender we are.

People have expressed the same fear about adult romance warping women’s views of men. But the vast majority of women are perfectly able to separate fantasy and reality, and that goes for young women as well.

I think a more important question to ask is whether our emphasis on hot boys is showing that women still have a tendency to measure their own value by the cultural value of the man they are with. If the point of most YA fiction is the heroine discovering her own true value and self-worth, are we saying that happens because a hot boy falls for her? Would she still have incredible value and importance if the boy who loves her was unattractive?

Or maybe we’re just overanalyzing all this. Maybe it’s as simple as this: teen girls have strong sex drives and vivid sexual fantasies, just like boys do. They are fully as capable of objectifying boys’ bodies as boys are of girls’ bodies. And while part of growing up and becoming mature is the ability to love and appreciate another person in spite of their imperfections, the fun of a good novel is the chance to indulge in a wildly unattainable fantasy.

Boy sitting

 

 

 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Dark

This is Part 2 of a 5-part series on the fashion editorial photoshoot I did with Hooton Images. Read part one here–it explains what the fashion editorial was all about. Part 3 is here: Facing the EnemyPart 4 is here: Facing the Sun. I will add links to the other posts once all of them are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

Nyx

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photoFear the night

dark impulses of

passion

dream-drenched mist

curling at the edge

of wakeful thoughts

 

Stay near the fire

don’t question the light

it’s everything that makes

man good and right

and safe and

all that the wild things

can never be

even though they

not you

are free.
Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Be beautiful

but don’t be vain

you’re here to

fill our eyes

and flame

desire

in your cage of

candlelight

hide yourself

the sight

of you

makes shadows

of us all

it’s your fault

that we fall

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot photo

You’re everything

we love

we hate

ideal

shame

you captivate

 

Be more

yet less

be good

yet never good enough

think

but not too deeply

lest you hear the voice

inside you

saying

 

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

It’s time

to leave

this cage of man-made light

where nothing you do

will ever be good

or right or beautiful

enough

it’s time

to cut the vines of fear

 

The night

is beauty too

and you

cannot be free

as long as you

are here.

Meredith Rose Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot Photo

Did you enjoy this poem? Then I’d love to show you my books! I’m especially excited about my current project: a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

View the entire “Trapped” set from the fashion editorial on the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot page.  All fashion editorial photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

©Meredith Rose, 2013. You may link to this post or share it online, but you may not download, repost, or use in any way the poem or fashion editorial photos without written permission of the author. 

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

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Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot: Facing the Camera

This is Part 1 of a 5-part series on the photoshoot. You can find the other parts of this series here:

Part 2: Facing the Dark (“Trapped” set)

Part 3: Facing the Enemy (“Warrior” set)

Part 4: Facing the Sun (“Flower” set)

I will add links to the other posts once they are up. Subscribe to the blog (right sidebar) to be notified when new posts are available.

In June, 2013, an eclectic group of eight descended on a seedy extended-stay hotel outside Council Bluffs, IA. Their mission: to transform a weedy vacant lot into a magical wildwood, and to transform a geeky fantasy novelist into a goddess.

This is the Wildwood Goddess Photoshoot, a fashion photography editorial by Hooton Images. 

Okay, so it wasn’t exactly the Fellowship of the Ring, but it was darn close. We had among us the following:

  • The Photographers: Heather and Jameson Hooton, the talented force of Hooton Images, creating kick-ass fashion photography in Omaha, NE.
  • The Wardrobe Stylist: Cora Leigh, designer and stylist, with a knack of finding the most amazing stuff on Etsy and vintage stores.
  • The Hair and Make-up Artist: Michelle Beran, who took me from “just got up” to “Wildwood Goddess” in the space of an hour. She spent the afternoon battling uncooperative hair extensions and racing the clock so we could get the perfect sundown shots.
  • The Intern: Uh…what was her real name? Everyone just called her “Intern.” Oh, that’s right–Hannah Kerr! (Just kidding, Hannah–we adore you!) Hannah is an emerging photographer of fashion photography in her own right and she was an essential part of the team for this shoot. She’s got the most adorable pink taser–and at one point nearly had to use it! (Creepy guy in elevator–eek!)
  • The Supportive Spouse: My husband Jason, who did everything from hanging birdcages from trees to chasing away dodgy-looking men. He couldn’t have been more wonderful.
  • The Creative Daughter: My then-12 year old daughter, Catrin, came with us for the day to take behind-the-scenes videos and snapshots and to help in any other way she could. It was a long day and she was fabulous.
  • The Novelist-turned-Model: That’s me! For a day, I got to be the model. It was harder work than I expected, but nothing compared to how hard everyone else worked.

Behind-the-Scenes: Meredith being silly

Such a nerd! Kissey, kissey!

I am the last person I would have ever thought would do a fantasy fashion photography editorial shoot. In high school, I was the geek, never the fashionista. My strength has always been my mind, not my body. When I looked in the mirror, all I saw was a geeky, flawed, and odd-looking girl with crooked teeth, spotty skin, glasses, and a less-than-Hollywood figure.

But over time, I learned that my feet could dance, my voice could sing, and my hands and my eyes have artistic ability I never knew about. I could tell a story with color and shape and texture, not just words.

As I became an adult and grew more confident about my own style (yes, it took well into my adult life for that to happen), I would see beautiful fashion photography in magazines, and I thought–why shouldn’t that be me? Why not give it a try?

Michelle Beran doing Meredith's hair extensions

That’s Michelle Beran, make-up artist extraordinaire, putting in my hair extensions.

It was an intimidating thought: Me? Model in a fashion photography shoot? Just having professional headshots done for my book covers was stressful enough. But I realized I needed to do this–needed to challenge myself and my commitment to accepting and celebrating the gift of my body. So that settled it. I may not be what fashion designers are looking for to model their next line of clothing, but dammit–I’m worth photographing anyway!

My husband used to say that he wished I could see myself as he sees me, just for a minute. By facing the dark eye of the camera, by letting go of my fear, that finally happened. Far from being the judging, revealing force I always had run from, the camera showed me a version of myself far kinder and more profound than I had been able to see with my own eyes.

Meredith Rose photo

I am beautiful. I am flawed. And some days, the beauty seems to be deeply buried somewhere (maybe in the same place all my missing socks are). But my body is a gift and worthy of being loved and cared for. And yes, even photographed, like art. Because it is.

Heather and Jameson told me that fashion photography and editorials should tell a story. Being a teller of stories already, that worked great for me. I took that advice more literally (pun!) than probably most people would, and actually came up with a simple narrative that we used to group the photoshoot into sets.

The Wildwood Goddess photos tell MY story, and the story of so many women. A story of feeling trapped–by fear, by insecurities, by the expectations and repression of our culture. A story of learning to break away, to fight, to find our inner strength, confidence, to become the people we were meant to be. And a story of finally reaching that place of peace and rest, of knowing who we are and being able to live in that knowledge without striving.

Over the next three weeks, you’ll get to experience that story for yourself. For now, if you’d like to see the series of headshots we did or find out more about the photoshoot, take a look at the Wildwood Goddess photoshoot page.

Meredith Rose photo

If you enjoyed this post, you should try my fiction, too! My latest project is a young adult steampunk fantasy. You can read an excerpt here on my Books page or read the whole story in installments by following me on Wattpad

All professional photos are ©Hooton Images and are owned exclusively by Meredith Rose. They may be pinned on Pinterest, but please credit Hooton Images in the description. 

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Losing Myself In You

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Losing Myself In You

He was actually a good guy. We’d been friends for years. We had dated in high school but it turned out a bit like a reverse Jane Austen’s Persuasion, where he was the one who rejected me at the advice of his mother who thought he could do better.

He regretted it later, after I’d moved on, but we renewed a friendship that in many ways meant more to me than our high school romance ever could. In college, he was there for me, albeit long distance, when my first serious relationship fell apart after three years.

We talked on the phone for hours, and he could make me laugh even when I was down. He wrote me letters (real letters!) and he thought my dreams of becoming a writer were something to celebrate and encourage.

We went together my final year of college to a dance that was sort of the college equivalent to prom. That night, on the porch of my parents’ house, he whispered the question I’d longed to hear in high school and thought I never would:

Can I kiss you?

This second romance seemed so much deeper and more mature than our first try as high schoolers, and I suppose in many ways it was. We were heading into our careers, we were looking seriously at whether or not we might have a future together.

He was my Gilbert Blythe, come to life–the childhood friend I grew to love. That friendship meant so much to me. He was really the first, and only, close male friend I’d had growing up. His return into my life had been an unexpected gift, and I cherished it.

Fading Rose 2But he made it very clear that if we messed up this second chance, I would lose him forever this time. He didn’t think our friendship could survive another break-up. I agreed–because it all seemed so romantic at the moment, and anyway, I wasn’t brave enough to tell him “I don’t like that.”

So I became careful. Very sensitive to everything he said. And it wasn’t until later that I realized I started losing pieces of myself, trying to make sure I became what I thought he wanted, so I would never lose him.

He didn’t like me calling him too much, so I tried not to bother him. I didn’t talk to him too much about the things I was thinking about and interested in because he was always rushed for time and I didn’t want him to think I was clingy.

He studied hard and was in college to become a physician’s assistant. His classes and even his other friends were off limits to me because he needed his “space,” and I always accommodated that without telling him that it made me feel second-rate and unimportant.

Despite that first kiss, he didn’t seem to like too much affection. When I tried to cuddle, he asked if I was “starved for affection.” So I pulled away, even though my nature is to touch and hold.

I worried about my weight, even though I didn’t need to, because he had made offhand comments about never wanting a fat wife. Since we had agreed we were no longer dating “just for fun” but with marriage in mind, I feared becoming what he scorned.

I never told him I thought some of his jokes about other people were rude. Or that I needed to know he loved me. I hid a lot of what I really thought and didn’t say what I wanted because I didn’t trust that my truest self would be safe with him.

Fading Rose 3I avoided any kind of conflict because I wasn’t convinced we could make it through a fight.  He carried grudges, and I knew forgiveness was not his strength. I had heard his biting disdain for other people who had disappointed or disagreed with him. I always feared he would leave. Or worse, that he would stay, but never really forget.

In a burst of poetic justice, I was the one who left. I went away for a summer, and found a man who loved me the way I was, who would go without sleep just to stay up all night talking to me, who couldn’t keep his hands and lips off me, and who didn’t mind if the whole world knew how he felt about me. He let me into his world, expanding and adjusting it so that I fit, instead of expecting me to change.

A man who, when it was time to part, said he’d rather I be happy even if it meant saying goodbye to me forever.

I didn’t know I’d lost myself until that summer. This summer fling, which is never supposed to work out, showed me that it is possible to fall deeply in love, but still keep my own identity. It’s possible to be friends and lovers without fearing conflict. I don’t have to change when I’m with someone who accepts me and loves me the way I am.

Over those brief, heated weeks, I put myself back together piece by piece, rediscovering who I am and realizing what I had given up. When I came home, back to the one I’d thought was my Gilbert, I finally saw in full how colorless and shallow our relationship really was because there was no lasting trust or unconditional love.

Fading Rose 4How deep is a friendship really if it’s built on a mutual understanding that there will be no more second chances? How can a love survive if it revolves only around one person’s schedules and whims and desires?

I left him. He was angry, of course. Truth is, I was not the only one damaged by our relationship. I hurt him, even though I never intended to. I had hurt him, even before I had fallen in love with someone else, by pretending to be someone I wasn’t. He thought he was getting the woman he’d always wanted, and when she turned out not to be real, he felt betrayed. Love and deception cannot co-exist. Psyche and Cupid taught us that thousands of years ago.

He was not a bad man. He had many moments of kindness, and we did have a lot of good times. But he needed to grow up in many ways, and so did I. No matter how I sentimentalized our childhood friendship, he wasn’t my Gilbert after all. And I could never be his Anne.

I should never have tried–everyone, including me, is much happier when I am simply myself.

How do you date someone without losing your own identity? This article from EcoSalon.com offers some good starting points: He Loves Me, I Love Me Not: How to Date Without Losing Yourself : EcoSalon | Conscious Culture and Fashion.

Fading Rose 5

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