Friday, March 6, 2009


This very day, you've probably already parked at a blog wherein the author posted a photo of herself and apologized for it, doing her best to explain away the image's imperfections. She wrote, Oh, please ignore that hideous face I'm making! Sometimes I'm such an idiot! Or Don't ask me why I thought it was a good idea to wear that sweater. Boy, do I look like a cow!

Aw, get over yourself. We all land in moments of awkward pause. Every last one of us.

These days I find myself in a phase of reckoning with reality, targeted specifically at photography.

I subscribe to a few photoblogs. And the pictures are awfully pretty. But for me: most of 'em are too pretty.

Yes, photography is an art, and I'm not referring that type of photography. You should shine like the sun on your wedding day. And I drool over some photog's abilities to snag a slice of human beauty as their art. The photos I'm writing about are the day-to-day snaps that illustrate your existence.

It's certainly uncomfortable to come across a image of yourself poorly groomed or mid-bite. You wish that you had given the camera your good side. Or that you weren't slouching. Or that you had at least made some attempt to present the lens with a more polished you. But my argument is that the photo is you. And for all my ranting, misanthropy, and baring of teeth, I have a genuine appreciation for moments of stark reality, whether poignant or not, for they're the pieces that make a person.

Life is unkempt, awry more often than not, and is worthless without reality.

The Husband has a photo of me in his car taken two and a half years ago. And the fact is that I looked better then. (Or thinner, rather. And, truth be told, I'm too often of the distorted and media-tainted opinion that thinner just is better; health be damned). So I want him to trash the photo and get one that's more realistic even if not as good-looking. Because I'm a different me now, and I look like that revised self.

I've never been one to grasp at the past, so it irks me that he drives around with a picture of what I consider a prettier me. But a me that couldn't do Eka Pada Galavasana. A me that was a new drug rep. A me that hadn't yet survived a work relocation. A me that hadn't witnessed my nephew Van's birth. Essentially a different woman.

Ideally, we'd receive reality and do with it what we can rather than wish for and dwell on a self that was thinner, better groomed, less wrinkled, or simply more graceful at the moment of capture. Because I buy into that, I sure do wish he'd junk that photo.

Thus when someone posts an image on their blog and with an air of fluster and humiliation, rushes to excuse that particular moment of humanity, two thoughts greet me: first, If you hate the photo that vehemently, why in Sam Hill did you post it for the world to remember? Second: If you had the gumption to post the thing, why negate that courage by trying to pardon its presumed ugliness and actually draw attention to the fault in the first place?

I ask these questions, but to the second one I come with an answer.

If you posted a photo of your sub-prime self, you want us to know that you know it. That you're plenty aware that your hair had a mind of its own that day. You want people to know that you're better than that. You're more. And the devastation of a reader taking the photo at its literal face value doesn't need to hit your Fret List, so you attach a disclaimer.

But I say that we cast that paranoia aside and deal with ourselves as we are. A paunch here, a blink there, wild hair, a blemish, wrinkles, and on (all day). I'm not advocating that we take the giant leap to be just-fine with ourselves in moving life; if you know me, you know that I couldn't possibly suggest anything more hypocritical, for I focus on finery, dye my hair, get waxed, won't leave the house sans mascara, worry about my weight like its cancerous, and am not only okay with cosmetic surgery, I'm planning on it. Rather, let's start by reconciling with the frozen moments. The snaps are stagnant; unless you trash 'em, they're here to stay. And they're you. As you are. And that requires no excuse or apology.

And for Pete's sake, don't think that I'm any good at what I'm encouraging. But I am trying. As proof of that, I just clicked on Photobooth to let it capture me. Right now. As I am. And I am now sharing it with you.

Of course, the first thing I see in the photo are my faults. They are waving flags and doing the Electric Slide. As if I could ignore that. But I'm not going to point them out to you or apologize for them. They adorn the me you're hearing from right now. Sure, I'm going to feel awfully uneasy as I click Publish Post; but I'm going to do it . . . right now, before I get my wits about me.


Maria said...

Hi Megan - I am a random stranger -well not complete stranger, as you did design my blog a few weeks ago which I love. Many thanks for that. Anyway,I just wanted to say I look forward to reading your blog each day. You are so brutally honest about things in your posts and I find it quite refreshing - and very funny. Thanks for the laughs... :)

Hannah said...

Amazing post, as usual. I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. You are such an amazing writer, and this post was dead on what I needed to hear today. Hope you have a fantastic weekend.

The Fear Fam said...

Great post! "Doing the electric slide" - ha!

I whole-heartedly agree with what you're saying. I was guilty of doing the whole posting-a-pic-then-complaining-about-it thing, but I was mad at myself for it and vowed to never do it again. (Complain, not post.) That's why when I posted a self-portrait in honor of Nie Nie, I didn't knock myself down, but I did tturn the comments off. Didn't want people to think I was fishing for compliments. :)

whitneyingram said...

You look like hell.

Cheryl said...

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! You express exactly how I feel on this topic!

aezra noell said...

Ditto. I needed that today. and btw, you're adorable. life is life...and we live it.its nice to be reminded. cheerio!

[Morgan] said...

i love it.
i was just telling bird the other day. i'm forgetting photoshop, i am what i am, acne and all. granted, i don't post many pics of myself on my blog (especially not in the winter) because, who wants that old boyfriend to see the weight i've gained or that said acne is even worse now than it was 10 years ago, and throw in a few wrinkles. yes, wrinkles. oh and, huge bags under my eyes because i haven't had a good nights sleep since my first baby was born, 5 years ago... right?
but i agree, i look at pictures of myself even 6 years ago and see a different woman. a girl who hadn't experienced motherhood, the building of a home or the start of her own business. i'll take the wrinkles and the bags under my eyes, but would never give those experiences up.
i love this post, what a boost in my own quest of accepting myself.

and while you can pick yourself apart in that photo, i'm just sure that i don't see your so called faults.

you. are. great.

Sarie said...

I seriously love you.

Alicia said...

That was deep. DH just went through a bunch of "old" photos from when we were first married (my prime!) and now uses one as his cellphone "wallpaper"... it was a reality check for me. Looking at that picture then the unkempt woman I see in the mirror - I'm just NOT her anymore! I mean, I'm happy with myself - but friggin' A! I've had two kids moved 10 times, lost a close family member... Id like to say that I'm a better person than I was then! (Maybe not as "hott"... but it is what it is!)

Well said!

Kar said...

Yay for plastic surgery. I hate how some people judge for that. If a new nose will boost your self esteem, by golly then go for it. Everyone should feel beautiful and I'm glad we have cosmetic procedures to help us achieve that. I plan to take advantage of it too.

Anonymous said...

i loved this post.

rabidrunner said...

Brutally honest? Naw. Beautifully honest? Aye.

rabidrunner said...

You've painted a good picture for what is wrong with photography these days.

People hire their photographers to look like Jennifer Aniston (or whoever the hell the "it" girl is these days). They want the perfect family portrait. One that shows the kids in their finely pressed digs and Harvard scholarships.

Trouble is... these types of photos never show emotion. A good photograph makes you feel.

Vanessa and Company said...

I too am a stranger, but I read your posts regularly. I relish your honesty. Thanks for the reality check today. I needed that :)

cat+tadd=sam said...

I'd like to second Rabid. Well said.

M to the E to the R to the I said...

Ideally, yes, we'd all be self confident enough to just post any random pic of ourselves. But let's be honest, nobody wants to do that. And pointing out ones flaws in the picture is a good way to let people know that you know they are there (like you said), cause we all know that everybody notices them regardless. I'm just a vain person who doesn't want to come to grips with reality ok? Ha ha, I just want to live in my bubble. Tell your hubby to keep the picture of you up! Nothing wrong with a good looking photo, not matter when it was taken.
But I do agree and am guilty of the " Sorry I don't look good in this picture..." I do it out of fear of ridicule, not to fish for compliments. I will be better about that, but I will still do my best to find a hot picture over a regular one.