Pretty Fabulous at 40

I’m not a model.

I don’t even play one on Facebook. Normally, when the camera comes out, I tend to stiffen up and turn to stone. Despite my guilty pleasure of watching more seasons of America’s Next Top Model than I care to admit, I never seem to know how to stand, what to do with my hands or how to find the best angle for my face. And, I always forget to suck my stomach in until after I’ve already heard that fateful click. So, when the opportunity arose to experience a glAMOUR shoot with Micaela Malmi, I was both petrified and exhilarated. For weeks leading up to the shoot, I tried to counter my growing anxiety with visualization, picturing myself having fun and killing it, and literally giving myself mental “I can do this” pep talks.

I needn’t have worried. From the moment I stepped into the Lemongrass Salon & SPA, I was a model in the making. Makeup artist extraordinaire Sarah did unbelievable job of keeping my make up in line with who I really am – a woman whose idea of makeup is mascara and lip balm – while also making me camera ready. The colors she choose for me were so spot on, I couldn’t help but purchase the lipstick, which I have since found is perfect for both every day and dress up use.

Primped, primed and ready to go, I made my way over to Micaela’s gorgeous ocean view studio in Cardiff with a suitcase full of my favorite outfits. Soft, natural light was flooding in through arched windows, bouncing beautifully off the hard wood floors and expertly placed backdrops, illuminating the beautiful Amanda, whose shoot was already in progress. I was greeted with champagne, strawberries, and Pharell Williams tunes, and was instantly at ease.

Soon it was my turn. First up, Micaela wrapped me in chiffon and had me posing on a couch. Not what I had expected, but trusting her vision 100 percent, I relaxed into the moment and pretended I was looking at my husband, rather than the camera. Micaela gave me the perfect cues on how to work my body and my face without ever making me feel self-conscious. As Amanda and I alternated turns throughout the day, our looks varied from fun and flirty to sexy and sophisticated. I found out that modelling is hard work – I had more sore muscles after that photo shoot than after any of my yoga practices – but we had such a blast that I left feeling elated, alive and empowered in my own self.

When the photos arrived, I confess that my first viewing was with my hands partially covering my eyes and I’m sure that I was beet red. But as I looked at them again and again, I slowly felt my insecurities melting away, as I saw that Micaela had captured so many different sides of who I am. Now, I am blessed to have an amazing set of photos that I can use for professional profile pictures, for more casual social media posts, for future gifts from my husband (so glad I mustered the courage for that set of boudoir shots!) and just to remind myself that I was, indeed, pretty fabulous at 40.

Nikki Dean


Yoga Teacher~Mother~Manifestor

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Turning a weakness into strength

All my life I have have been small. Short. Vertically challenged. Mini. Tiny. Call it whatever you want. I have had people come up to me in a crowd going -“OMG, you are SO SHORT, how tall are you?” or -“what’s wrong with you, why aren’t you taller?”, -“grow up”, -“didn’t your parents feed you when you were a kid?”. The fact is that I grew up in one of the richest countries in the word; Sweden and yes, my parents did feed me. It’s just that around age 11, I decided to stop eating. Or if I did eat, I immediately went and threw up. By the tender age of 12 I ended up in the hospital along with other kids that had mental problems (there wasn’t any eating disorder departments for anyone that young back then).

The road back to recovery was long and difficult, but my family was there for me and I couldn’t have asked for a better support system around me. Anyway, that isn’t what this blog is about, just some background to why I’m so darn short. I stopped growing around 11 years old. I’m 155cm if you need to know btw, that’s about 5 feet tall.

There isn’t really ANY advantages to be short. Concerts suck, random people often feel an urge to simply pick you up and swing you around, you need a pillow to sit on to drive most cars, clothes are not made for shorties like me. The only time I can thank the Universe for my size is when I travel as I fit everywhere and I always get the stinky eye when I can stretch my legs out all the way on an airplane. In coach.

But something magical happened yesterday; I was at the ClickAway Photo Conference in Salt Lake City watching Sue Bryce speak. Now, I have followed Sue for a couple of years and she has been one of the biggest inspirations and influences in my professional career. She’s my true north in photography and I was beside myself to see her in person. She was teaching posing and asked for volunteers. Now a person of my size typically isn’t ever a part of anything that has to do with modeling or posing but when I heard that she needed someone around 5 feet I raised my hand and for one of the VERY few times in my life, my height was to my advantage. I not only got to listen to her teach, I got to feel what it was like to be posed by the master poser herself. I have never learned so much in an hour and a half. Thank you Sue for including ALL women of ALL sizes!

Even though I was the compact-small example, I was somebody. And for the record, I do like to be called petite.

With Grace & Gratitude

~The Petite Swedish Vagabond~

I’m the little red one…..