As some of you know, I’ve done a little fashion modeling over the years but a while back I posed for a very different kind of photo spread. I wasn’t showcasing the clothes on my back because, well, there weren’t any clothes on my back.
Here’s how it happened.
My brother and my father are both malignant melanoma survivors so I had long been a faithful, if not enthusiastic, patient of a dermatologist I used to call The Sun Nazi. Every year, the Sun Nazi would inspect the assorted moles, freckles and “beauty marks” peppering my epidermis, tsk tsk over my very faint tan lines, and implore me to get “Total Body Photography.”
About seven years ago – tired of excisions and biopsies – I took her advice and called the Dermatrak Skin Imaging Center (then in King of Prussia, now in Plymouth Meeting).
I’ll never forget my appointment.
After handing over a $500 check for the privilege, I shed all of my clothes (undies included) and jewelry and slipped on a white terry robe.
I was then told to stand in the center of a large blindingly bright studio where a man in a white coat (a photographer trying to look like a doc?) approached and asked me to hand him my robe.
He directed me through 30 minutes of unseemly poses while he clicked away. His job was to capture every square inch of me – scalp, soles and lady parts included – in full-color digital 2D. As I bent and twisted and lifted, I remember wondering if he enjoyed his work.
My photo album came in the mail a few weeks later wrapped in brown paper and conspicuously marked “Personal” and “Private.” Oh dear, what does the mailman think I ordered?
I promptly hid the package – unopened – under my bed.
I still can’t bring myself to look at the pictures, but my new dermatologist seems to appreciate them. I tote my album along to my annual skin checks and she systematically compares every mole constellation against its celluloid counterpart, looking for changes in shape, size, color and spacing. (I’ve had nightmares about leaving the album in the waiting room or in my car. Mommy, what’s this?)
And I’m pleased to report that I’ve had only one suspicious removed since my X-rated escapade. Which means no new stitches, no fresh centipede scars.
So while the experience was debasing in every way (especially for a good Catholic girl like me), I recommend it.
Plus, when you’re middle aged, the photos are good for at least 10 years. Like well-spaced pregnancies, there’s ample time between photo shoots to forget the torture.