Um, I’m Going to Need Y’all to Put These Paper Bags on Your Heads around Me

I had to get SouthComm a head shot today. It sucked.  Not just because I had to take it myself, but because I am not that cute. I am bugged by how much my non-cuteness bothers me, but it does. It feels anti-feminist to be so shaken by this, but there it is.

I would wear a bag over my head, but even that is a bridge too anti-feminist far for me. Plus, I’m not sure I could cut eye holes successfully on my first try and a bag with like seven eye holes does nothing to help my self-esteem. So, if y’all could just wear paper bags around me, that would make me feel better.

The worst part is that this photo is actually kind of cute, which undermines the whole point of this post, but I just can’t bring myself to show you the way I look in the vast majority of them.

I envy people who feel comfortable with the way they look, who take lots of pictures and feel fine having people look at them.

Well, what can you do?


24 thoughts on “Um, I’m Going to Need Y’all to Put These Paper Bags on Your Heads around Me

  1. “I envy people who feel comfortable with the way they look, who take lots of pictures and feel fine having people look at them.”

    Ok, who ARE those people? Because I haven’t met any of them. I think they may be mythical.

    Every bloody person out there thinks they look funny. Every. One.

    Then ten years later we all look back at pictures of ourselves and think, damn, I was so cute! Why didn’t I enjoy it then?

    Try to enjoy it now.

  2. Well, first of all, you ARE cute. I was thinking, do you remember that incredible picture you took of yourself a couple years back? I just looked for that old post, but I can’t find it. I LOVE that shot. I wonder if they could use it?

  3. “I don’t take good pictures ’cause I have the kind of beauty that moves.”
    — Ani DiFranco
    I always go with this :-)

  4. My mother says she never liked how she looked in pictures until she dated a photographer. He just took so many pictures of her that she got used to it.

  5. “I envy people who feel comfortable with the way they look, who take lots of pictures and feel fine having people look at them.”

    I know some of these people and I think it is just some sort of innate ease with themselves. They are usually uneasy in other areas that don’t bother you or me. It’s a trade-off I suppose.

    I just flat don’t like photos of myself and there are, therefore, a precious few of them since, oh, 1979 or thereabouts.

    I do like this photo of you, however.

  6. GoldnI, I also think they should have let me just draw a headshot. Though I question why people who read newspapers need to see what the writers look like in the first place.

    And I, too, like this picture of me. I just wish I liked more pictures of me. I really hate and get pissed at myself that this is one area in which I just cannot get comfortable.

    Anyway, I know I’m being ridiculous and it doesn’t have anything to do with whether I’m actually cute or not or whatever. I mean, I’m too old to be hung up on the cute crap, right?

    But it still bugs me. I don’t need to be in love with how I look, but I wish I weren’t undone by it.

  7. Well, as someone who welcomed wrinkles(look! I have experienced life!) the day I looked in the mirror and saw my grandmother sucked. And still sucks if I get to thinking about it too much ’cause dammit! I’m not even 50!

    And I’m always the person in the picture with my eyes shut or my mouth full of food so I just stopped caring. Any ID shot of me looks like a mug shot so I’ve given up there too.

  8. I’m with O.C. on liking pictures of myself years later, having hated them when they were taken. But I don’t know why any adult really wants to look cute. Alive, intelligent, interested, humorous, kind — those are things that attract when they show in a person’s looks and behavior (and they’re things you are, which is what everybody in this thread means by saying you are cute). But any baby can look cute just by drooling. For a grown-up, that’s no big accomplishment.

  9. Ha! nm nails it.

    Is there any particular reason you want to look attractive in photos, B? I think you’re more well suited to a career in blogging than one in modeling, but not because you allegedly don’t look good in photos. ;)

  10. My wife is a professional photographer, albeit fairly inexperienced. I’m sure she’d be willing to take a few shots for you.

    If she’s not interested…… well our house is a patriarchy and she’ll do it because I said so.

  11. “Cute” usually fades. “Hot” always fades (unless you die young). You can expect intelligence and compassion to stick around for most, if not all, of your life.

  12. When I was in college in the 80s I used to lug up to the dorm every semester my hair dryer, combs, brushes, hot brush, curling iron, hair pick, makeup bag, etc. Now that I’m 48 I do alot of outdoor work and indoor organizing and I brush my hair and carry a comb and blow dry my wet hair but I’m like What the ____? When we’re younger we are really obsessed! I laugh about it now. I wear makeup on special occasions but sweat, bugs, hot flashes and makeup do not a pretty picture make!

  13. Aw, I kinda like that pic B, it’s good.

    I was on Twitter when you were asking about it and know you only had an hour to come up with a photo, it really is too bad you couldn’t have summoned up Chris Wage in a flash. He’s such a rock star and makes everyone look so fabulous.

  14. “Hot” always fades (unless you die young).

    That’s true but somehow it doesn’t ease the longing to be “hot.” I’ve always been “cute” but I’ve for some reason recently (last 3-4 years) had an incredible desire to become “hot” (probably because I’m finally getting old enough that I’m seeing the window for hotness beginning to close!).

  15. I was under the encouraging impression that the way I look in photos (IMHO: Like a Weasel) had little to do with how I actaullylook to the human eye. I made the dumb mistake of asking my daughter if I was correct. Turns out I actaully do look like a weasel in person, although she swore I looked good (for a weasel). I give up. I’ll still post pictures because me family likes to see them, but I don’t like them.

  16. Just laughing to myself that I talked about the 80s and forgot to mention the gel, hair spray and mousse I had. They used to make a hair product called Chocolate Mousse that smelled and looked like chocolate, but needless to say, you didn’t want to eat that!

  17. Well, you ARE cute. I’ve seen you live and in person and you ARE. But I get it. I’m totally comfortable with myself in the mirror, but maybe one of of fifteen pictures is even remotely tolerable.

  18. I’ve seen you in person, B., and erraticdragonfly’s quote of Ani DiFranco is on target. You in motion in the flesh is nothing like you in two static dimensions. I understand where you’re coming from, but I try to think of photos as nothing more than a crude visual reference point.

    Think of how much extra work goes into making photos look ‘professional,’ whether for modeling or other some such. With enough fancy lighting and what not, a good photographer could make a person want to have sex with his or her own self. You’re gorgeous enough without all that shit, never mind the photos.

  19. Okay, I’m going to out myself here and say I *am* someone who is reasonably comfortable with her looks and with pictures taken of me.

    Reason #1: I photograph really fucking well, and that’s an accident of fate. In real life I am one of those people who “gets prettier as I get to know you better” which is a pretty backhanded compliment. Seriously. My passport gets double-takes at the airport because the photo is way more attractive than me in the flesh.

    Reason #2: I generally conform to mainstream western standards of beauty. This is a genetic accident and a totally unearned privilege that I’m sure I trade on in all kinds of ways I don’t realize.

    Reason #3: I’ve had a buttload of therapy and done a lot of work to accept the way I look, which is RIDICULOUS, considering #2, but magazines etc. fucked me up but good for a long time.

    Reason #4: I figured out a while ago which angles were most flattering for my face, so I have a default picture face which usually results in a picture that I’m okay with. (This is similar to the comment above about the woman dating a photographer – I think – who just got used to a zillion pictures being taken of her. If you’re supremely unhappy about having a picture taken, it’s going to show in the picture.)

    Just to say – it’s not that inside I feel beautiful all the time, I feel like a disgusting troll-monster when I’m depressed. I am just rationally aware of the truth of #2, which will probably continue until my mid-forties, barring a major accident, at which point I will become invisible.

    Um – not sure where I’m going with this, except to say that seeing pictures of myself is something that I’ve worked on in a way that I haven’t worked on, for example, listening to recorded versions of my own voice. I can’t STAND listening to my outgoing voicemail message, although supposedly there is nothing wrong with my live voice. It just sounds so different from the voice I hear in my head when I talk, which is because sounds are different when they travel through the air as opposed to when they travel through the bones of your skull.

    Only the voice thing is not a big deal, because women aren’t heavily judged all day every day by the sound of their voice, at least not to the extent that women are judged on their appearance. Theoretically, it shouldn’t matter a rat’s ass what you look like – it’s your content that counts, right? But whenever I try to convince myself that I *shouldn’t* care what I look/sound like, the part of me that has to live in the outside world pipes up to remind me that while it may not be very feminist (or humanist) to judge someone on their appearance, it happens all the time. It’s kind of like the bind women are in when they argue for a higher wage – you’re damned if you do ask for more money because women aren’t supposed to be aggressive, and you’re damned if you don’t because you get less fucking money. So, I guess, you’re damned if you care about being cute and you’re damned if you don’t. It is a shitty thing.

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