Find the perfection in imperfection

In the early 1990s, when I was a lonely yuppie, yearning to meet the man who would make my heart sing and to start a family with him, I read a book by Dan Millman called The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose. I knew that my life was off-track somehow, so career-oriented, and I didn’t know how to open myself up to finding someone worthy of me (and how to be fully worthy of  such a man). Finding someone NOT worthy of me was not a problem; but finding that soul mate, which was a prerequisite to everything else I longed for seemed permanently elusive.

Foo-foo though it may sound, this book uses numerology to reveal one’s life purpose. You take numbers from your birth date and, using Dan’s recipe, boil them all down to a single digit.  I discovered that my number was 4, which meant that my issue to work out for the persona I have in this lifetime was to find the perfection in imperfection.

That resonated for me, an eldest child, the daughter of a perfectionist, someone prone to seeing what’s wrong before she sees what’s right. While I’ve come a long way since that little diagnosis, I am still working on the issue of finding the perfection of imperfection.

As recently evidenced.

Imagine my delight-slash-horror at being invited to be in front of the camera for some boudoir photography. Writers for Mile High Mamas had been invited by the amazing Iman Woods for a portrait session. Iman is renowned for her vintage, pinup, boudoir, fantasy and even family photography and art. I knew from perusing her website that she had all these genres going on, but I fixated on the “boudoir” part. In my mind, I was going to be in my lacy skivvies not only for the camera, but also in front of my fellow Mamas.

Yikes! Preparation for the event felt a little like a walk to the gallows. Naked.

As I got ready that morning, all my body’s imperfections popped out at me. There were spider veins. There was a bruise from falling out of bakasana at yoga the other day. There were scars from minor surgeries, other skin flaws I get for the privilege of living several decades, hairs that don’t belong there, and flesh movement that reminded me of Bill Cosby commercials. The thought of being so exposed and vulnerable in front of my Mama friends made me feel faint. I seriously considered cancelling and making up a reason to not go, I was that distraught.

Our culture does not encourage us to see the perfection of imperfection; our culture counsels us to hide our imperfections. Botox this, plasticize that. Cover up this blemish; whiten those teeth, touch up these grays. Spray on a tan, pluck those eyebrows, plump those lips. Lose some weight (because of the way you look rather than the way you feel), hide those zits and/or wrinkles or at least have the decency to feel bad about them.

Finding perfection in all our natural glory is HARD.

I breathed through the urge to cancel and got myself out the door with the items I thought I might need: a selection of outfits, pearls, makeup, hair pins, shoes and undergarments that worked with each outfit. I arrived early at the studio, the magically-transformed basement level of Iman’s home.

I soon found out two things: (1) our focus would be on vintage, not boudoir style (whew!), and (2) Iman’s special talent, indeed her entire outlook, is to enable her subjects to see and FEEL their own perfection. She has declared her studio a No Dissing Zone, and she, the hairstylist Dawn, and the makeup artist Sarah focused on making us know our beauty from the inside out.

Photo by Jaime

It was a delightful afternoon with Iman and the Mamas. We unleashed our perfections and even flaunted our imperfections (still, I wasn’t ready to bare the spider veins).

Photo by Jaime: Gretchen, me, Lisa

I think, when you see Iman’s final product, you can see perfection through and through.

(And STILL I can pick apart things about my look. Shut up!)

Photo by Iman Woods Creative

Susan, Amber, Jaime, Lisa, Heather, Gretchen, and, with the high hair, me.

More pix and a slide show on


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23 thoughts on “Find the perfection in imperfection”

  1. Ha, I was also a bit under-informed about what *exactly* we would be doing in the studio…but I figured that if we were really that desperate for online traffic, we would have heard about it before scheduling a riskay Mamas boudoirs photo shoot! When I saw Iman’s work, I knew she’d make us look good 😉

    1. You mean I wasn’t the only one freaked out about the specter of lingerie?

      You’re right, she was amazing. I especially liked hanging out with you and the others 🙂

  2. Wow! You all look gorgeous! I love it!

    Our culture has some REALLY destructive ideas about beauty and physical perfection. I fell victim to them for a long time and I worry every day that my daughter will too. I feel it is one of my most important jobs as a mother to help her feel confident in herself and her body. And how can I possible hope to teach that if I’m not already living it myself. It’s going to be very, very hard.

    1. I’ve done a decent job with my daughter about not dissing my body, but I have room to improve on actually praising it! You’re right — it’s harder than it should be.

  3. you all look gorgeous, but I have been looking at that picture of you for a week now and thinking, WOW, she is such a PRETTY girl, and she’s just as beautiful on the inside too….
    I am so glad you didn’t make any excuses and your jumped in….looking PERFECT.

    Every one of those pictures made me smile. Would it help to know that I never find any imperfections in you….even when I try. 😉

  4. You all look fantastic!

    My daughter alternates between telling me I’m fat and I’m beautiful. Gotta love the 5 year olds! (Note: I have a belly, and my butt is spreading, but I look pretty damn good for 42. I have few body issues – I’m not sure why, but I hope I’ve passed that on to my girl.)

  5. So much of me wants to just enjoy being here and now. Seriously, why do we (I) have to focus on my imperfections? Because face it, you’ll (talking to me) look back on today and say – I was fabulous then, why didn’t I realize it. So let’s start realizing how fabulous we are NOW and enjoy it. Can I get a “Cheers”?!

  6. That looks like so much fun!!!

    I’ve been thinking of you off and on as I try to remember to breathe through moments when my patience is at an end.

    You are a shining light.

  7. Lori,

    Every time I read this I get goosebumps. I can not imagine not knowing and feel a strong sense of kismet that you pushed past the uncomfortable feelings. Thank you.

    And thanks to everyone for the lovely comments! It’s overwhelming to get such beautiful feedback. 😉

    1. I think every woman should go through a session with you. What would the world be like if we showed our daughters how to love ourselves, just as we are, from the inside out?

  8. “Finding the Perfection in Imperfection”. I LOVE this!

    You are so beautiful that it amazes me to hear that you didn’t want to do this photoshoot! It’s rather like hearing Jessica Alba say she doesn’t like things about her appearance. In that photoshoot, you look like Katy Perry 😉

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