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In The Age Of The Selfie, An Ode To Old School Glamour Shots

'80s role models Charlene Tilton and Morgan Fairchild

The year was 1982 and I was a 14-year-old with a heavy financial decision to make.  Do I use my hard-earned $16 for that red corduroy prairie skirt from Hit or Miss?  Or, do I go to Model Shotz next to JC Penny’s at the King of Prussia mall for a glamour portrait?

This was my Sophie’s Choice.

Like most mothers, mine nudged me towards the prairie skirt for responsible reasons.  She didn’t like the idea of her budding woman-child channelling Lolita in feathers and blue eye shadow for some guy with questionable facial hair and a camera.

But it was hard to ignore the mild horror and confusion on her face.  She wasn’t sure why I wanted the picture; would I expect it to be framed and put on the mantel in the living room?  Would I send it to random pen pals or lonely heart prisoners?  Or was this a symptom of budding, grotesque self absorption?  Today, I see them as valid concerns, but the subtext my tender teenage soul took away was withering disappointment in my character and proof that I might have been switched at birth.

What she didn’t understand, is that it wasn’t about the picture, it was about the future.  The possibility of a life I thought I could have once I moved away from the humdrum restraint of suburbia and parents.  A life like the one Morgan Fairchild seemed to have in any given Movie Of The Week or Falcon Crest, which usually involved a high-powered career and a marriage to a gazillioniare man who loves you unconditionally and embraces drama with open arms.

At 14, I was pretty sure this life began with a glamour portrait from Model Shotz.

Ultimately, the red corduroy prairie skirt won out because I wanted to start high school in style and didn’t want to live in the shadow of my mother’s judgement.  Model Shotz turned into an Orange Julius, which turned into a Claire’s, which turned into a Starbucks.  But I will always wonder “what could have been” if early 80s me had been frozen in amber by Model Shotz.

Which is why I have to thank Whitney Jefferson over at Buzz Feed who posted the photos and headlines in 12 Ways To Achieve The Very Best Glamour Shot.  I added the additional color commentary to fill in the journey of my own personal Hot Tub Time Machine.

So, in tribute to all who have ever thought “what if” after passing a glamour shot studio, this one’s for you.

1. Hold on to your collar.  A small gesture that says so much, like “hold on camera, gorgeousness comin’ your way at 100 MPH”.  This doesn’t work if you’re wearing a T-shirt though because you’ll look like you have a twitch.

via sexypeople-blog.com

2. Wear silk gloves.  No one will ever second guess your socio-economic status again.

via onceuponamiracle.com

3. Wear a feather boa.  The feather boa was the 1980’s stylist weapon of choice because Spanx didn’t exist yet.  Feather boas cover EVERYTHING except your head.

via photos.ellen.warnerbros.com

4. Play up your hands.  Tease and tantalize with your hands to imply you’re spontaneous, totally comfortable with your body and sexuality despite the fact you’re covered in 50 lbs of feathers.

via photos.ellen.warnerbros.com

5. Expose those shoulders.  A suggestive tease that says “Under my clothes, I’m naked!”.

via jeanniesobsessions.blogspot.com

6. Make sure your hair is awesome (read: big).  Hmmm….I’m pretty sure 1982 me would have seen this and thought yessss, bring on the Sebastian Ultra Hold.  And I’m pretty sure I owned that jacket.

via flicker.com

7. Try combining as many of the above options as possible.   It’s like the braces aren’t even there.

via lu_la_belle.com

8. Opt for a cool hat.  I love hats and look especially good in cowboy hats.  If I didn’t live in Manhattan I would wear one all the time, like Larry Hagman from Dallas.  I like that it implies I might be a sheriff or packing heat.

via photos.ellen.warnerbros.com

9. Add studs to your favorite jacket.  Heck, add studs to anything!  It was for moments like this I had always yearned for a Bedazzler.  1982 me would have approved, not matter what I was wearing.

via childrenoftheninties.blogspot.com

10. Make use of props and accessories.  Today, my favorite prop is a pillow or my child.  Kids are great for taking family pictures because not only are they part of the family, but they can hide things like a slightly paunchy belly.  But hey, a deck of cards might do and it says you’re a formidable “Go Fish” card shark.

via photos.ellen.warnerbros.com

11. Bring a friend.  That friend can also be a bottle of wine.  Or, an extra roll of tin foil.

via jenefur.wordpress,com

12.  Don’t do a Granny Glamour shot.

via fuckyeah-glamourshots.com

Which brings me to this: how different are Glamour Shots from selfies?  Take out the feather boa and sparkles, and aren’t they the same thing?  You, at your fantasy best, with lots of flash controlled lighting?


  • Reply
    August 10, 2012 at 11:44 PM

    Oh my lord! I don’t know when I have laughed so hard in the last…week. You took me back in your way back machine. Thanks for this lovely fun posts and, how do you do by the way.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2012 at 8:36 AM

    Hi Lanier and thanks for stopping by. Sounds like you might have been tempted by a Glamour Shot once or twice, eh? 🙂

  • Reply
    May 5, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    I have noticed people try to be a bit more ‘arty’ with the selfie, and the ‘glamour’ shot is seen as a bit cheesy and uncool…things don’t always change for the better. LOVE your blog!

    – Elizabeth

    • Reply
      May 7, 2013 at 7:10 PM

      Thanks Elizabeth! I have to say, I’ve yet to master the art of the basic selfie let alone approach anything near art:)

  • Reply
    May 7, 2013 at 12:17 PM

    OMG this was too funny. Love the granny glamour shot…

    • Reply
      May 7, 2013 at 7:11 PM

      That granny shot is definitely a road map for what not to do for sure.

  • Reply
    May 8, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    OMG, love it! It’s hilarious!

    • Reply
      May 11, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      Glad you enjoyed

  • Reply
    May 25, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    This was absolutely hilarious.

    • Reply
      May 26, 2013 at 7:19 AM

      Thanks Catherine!


  • Reply
    Beauty Bytes: June 28, 2013
    June 28, 2013 at 7:04 AM

    […] In Pictures: Now that you’re pulling out your old favorite lip glosses, why not take a selfie and share? Or take a trip back in time, when vanity selfies required a photographer with film, lighting, and a soft-focus lens. Becca at Narcissista.Me reminisces about her 14-year old being-Morgan-Fairchild fantasy, and gives tips on taking your best glamour selfie. Narcissista.Me. […]

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