Updated: Jun 15
"I don't know that I want you to photograph me," Emma said on one of our many facetime calls.
This was her first mistake as Emma said this to both her older sisters at the same time.
"You wanna take this one, Melinda?" Marianne asked while trying to not (lovingly) roll her eyes.
"Heck yes!" I said and then began my lecture which likely went something like this: "You've got two options, Em. You can agree to let me photograph you and be happy about it. Or you can not be happy about it, pout and be hesitant and unpleasant and I'll still photograph you. That's it. I know you don't see all the hard work you've done. I know you still look in the mirror and you're not always happy. I know you still struggle with seeing how beautiful you are. And I know you are worried that I'm gonna photograph you and you're gonna see all the stuff you think is still there. But you gotta trust me. You've done amazing work. Everyone can see it, the world can see it. You are beautiful. Just trust me to show it to you."
Of course, there is some stuff I missed. I don't quite have a photographic memory for conversations but I've got a pretty good one. You get the idea. Emma was worried about being photographed. She was worried that all the negative stuff she perceived on her worst day would show up in the pictures and prove to the mean little voice in her head that all her negative self-talk was accurate. That's scary stuff to battle. Emma had to be brave. And she was.
A week later Emma and I strolled through one of Houston Texas's most beautiful cemeteries and for over an hour I photographed my little sister who up until that point hid her body from the camera.
You might be wondering what had Emma so worried. She's gorgeous so what's the big deal?
Over the course of 2022 Emma lost over 120lbs.
We learned our sister Marianne had aggressive ovarian cancer and it caused all of us to evaluate our lives and how we were living. Emma decided to become radically accountable for her health and her weight. She changed everything. She introduced daily habits. She said goodbye to food she no longer recognizes as food. She learned the power of saying 'no' as she grew her ability to do the harder right things instead of the easier wrong things.
She changed her life in the most beautiful way by loving herself enough to do the best things for her.
"I love the old Emma," my little sister will say. "I love her because she was strong enough to get me here. Old Emma was really afraid to do this. I remember trying to lose weight once before and just hating being hungry and then I failed like three days later. But I am where I am now because the old me was strong enough to try again."
Emma was never not worthy of being photographed. She was never not lovable, valuable, good, beautiful, or necessary. She was always all these things. But she struggled to see it and believe it. And it didn't matter how often others said these great things to her, she had to do the work to love and honor herself. Once she did that not only did the weight come off, not only was she able to do hard things she thought she would never do, but she was able to more clearly see all the good things all of us see.
We in the Fox Family love Emma. We love her like crazy! Emma might be the best of us. I call Emma when hard things happen. Emma is the one I talk to when I need to balance out my desire for vengeance and my need to not go to jail. She champions me forward . . . she champions everyone forward and finally she's doing that for herself. Emma works to see the best in people. She works to keep the peace. She's compassionate, well-read, deeply intelligent, funny, sarcastic, helpful, loving, and devoted. Emma's soul has always shined bright with the goodness that emanates from her.
In The Fellowship of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien the beautiful and wise Galadriel gives Frodo, the hero, a gift before he continues on his epic quest to destroy evil and bring peace to their land.
"I give you the Light of Earendil," Galadriel said as she gave Frodo a glass vile. "Our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places when all other lights go out."
Emma is our light in dark places.
Emma is the gift given to us because Higher Powers knew that life would get dark and difficult and we would need some light and warmth to make it through.
Emma has sat with many of us on our personal cliffs of Mount Doom, a constant companion of light in a dark and desolate place.
Here is Emma. The youngest Fox. The golden child. The last in the line of six. She is our cherished friend and our trusted companion.
She is our beloved star.
P.S. Are you interested in an incredible photoshoot experience all your own with Melinda and Shea? Whether it be an equestrian photoshoot, mother and daughter pictures, headshots and branding, or contemporary portraits and boudoir we will create something show-stopping that celebrates you!
Private Photography Studio in Athens PA.
If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fox Photography by Melinda Fox, Photographers in Athens PA, Photographers in Sayre PA, Photographers in Waverly NY, Photographers in Elmira NY, Photographers in Towanda PA, Photographers in Corning NY, Photographers in Ithaca NY, Photographers in Twin Tiers Area. Fox Photography by Melinda Fox