Author Photo

Please note: This article was first published on Viaduct Dreams and last updated June 4, 2016.

20 years ago….

Every writer needs an Author Photo. It’s an essential part of every press kit. It’s been twenty years, since a professional photographer took photographs of me, and, damn, did I look good in those photos. But even I know that I’ve changed (a lot) since then.

I decide to take a few selfies, and to start out by taking a photo without makeup. Then I’ll slap on the war paint bit by bit. Foundation, eye shadow, mascara, lipstick, everything I can find in my bathroom cabinet.

I’ll take one photo after another, with a little more makeup each time, and then decide which photo looks best. I’m happy. It’s a plan. I’m ready to promote my book, The Vegan Tourist: Vienna.

I take the first photograph, and need to sit down. This is me? I take another photo, then another. A stranger’s face stares back at me. She’s pale (like vampire-undead pale), her skin looks botchy and pasty at the same time, and she has dark circles under her eyes. She looks sick – I look sick.

This comes as a surprise, although it really shouldn’t. Twelve years ago, I was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis, and two years ago I was also diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. I had to take cortisone medication (steroids) for eight years to keep the Sarcoidosis in check, and I need to take thyroid medication for the rest of my life. I had a hard time adjusting to being sick and living with a chronic illness, and the steroids ruined my body and packed on the pounds (while saving my life at the same time). I’ve been feeling much better for the last couple of years or so, and I am off the steroids now. I feel fine. I keep forgetting that I am not fine – and it takes a selfie to remind me of my illnesses.

I abandon my plan to pretty myself up with makeup. Clearly, the Author Photo has to wait a while. Botchy, pasty skin? Dark circles under my eyes? I don’t think so! I decide to sunbathe on my balcony (in a bikini, no less). Weather permitting, that’s what I’ll do for a few weeks: sunbathe! An hour a day.

If this sounds like fun to you, it isn’t to me. I actually have to put it on my “to do”-list, so I’ll stick to it. I never liked sunbathing. I get bored easily, and I’m restless after just a few minutes. Just lying around in the sun, doing nothing? I don’t get it. But of course that’s why I look like a vampire, and why a recent blood analysis showed that my Vitamin D level was so low that it couldn’t even be detected anymore. So now I’m taking my vitamins, and I guess I need to step away from my computer more often, go outside, and spend more time in the sun.

I’ll give that Author Photo another try in a few weeks. Taking a selfie might not be the best idea, though. Maybe it’s time for a professional photographer again…

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