I guess some people may think selfies are ridiculous, however when you spend as much time traveling alone as I do, you gotta get pictures somehow.
It has nothing to do with vanity.
I spent years hating every single picture that I ever saw of myself. I struggled to smile for the camera. I tended to avoid pictures if I could get away with it. I simply did not want there to be any record of the way I looked.
I made funny faces.
I am too fat.
My nose is too turned up and my nostrils flare when I laugh too hard. When I am mad. When I am tired, happy, or sad. Okay, my nostrils just flare a lot. They are active little boogers.
My neck is short and thick.
You can’t see my collar bones.
I am built like a potato, all lumps and no curves in the right spots.
I perpetually looked constipated or pissed off in almost every picture.
I was dressed wrong.
I was not thin enough.
My hair did not look right.
My teeth looked odd.
I spent so much time berating the image of the girl on the paper that I couldn’t appreciate the memory that had been captured.
It goes beyond a low self-esteem. I was full of loathing and resentment. I just knew I was not enough.
I hated the camera. I made fun of “those silly girls” who had the audacity to playfully pose for their own shutter. I convinced myself they were somehow the antithesis of who I should be if I was to be taken seriously.
There was not one single event that was the turning point. Slowly, I started posing for photos with friends. I started out standing behind everyone a peeking over their shoulder. There must be a hundred pictures of my son and I with me grasping his shoulders and peering around his head.
Once iPhones had the forward facing camera, making faces in the camera replaced making faces in the mirror. Don’t lie. You know you do that too. It has nothing to do with liking the way I look, it’s almost like a curiousity about what my facial expressions look like to other people.
Occasionally, I take a photo that doesn’t look too bad. If the light is just right and I am relaxed I like some of the photos. Honestly, part of it is practicing posing, angles, and lighting. I feel like I am making progress.
I’m not going to pretend like I feel like I look good the majority of the time. I still hate so much about what I see.
Aging is difficult.
I have more acne than I did as a teenager.
I can’t even begin to imagine what is happening to my pores, all of the sudden they decided to become prominent, and they collect debris like tiny gaping hoarders.
The skin on my face is thinner, drier, more oily, blotchy, and something is happening my eyelids. It’s as if the tissue is migrating to under my eyes instead of holding my eyebrows up.
My eyelashes have decided to abandon me. Perhaps they have migrated up to my brow.
There is a very deep ravine marching across my forehead. There is no way to smooth it out anymore.
There are gray hairs sneaking their way into my brunette locks, which has taken on a dull sheen if I don’t get it colored by a professional. I was also unaware of how the shaft would become thinner and increasingly prone to breakage.
And don’t even get me started on my chin. All I can say is tweezers are no longer optional. Perhaps this is the lash’s new address.
Despite my dissatisfaction with essentially every body part and feature, my son has my smile and my nose. Really he looks very much like me. I think he is the most handsome dude ever. I realize you are most likely suffering from the delusion that your son is the best looking kid to walk the earth, but you are mistaken. It’s okay, I won’t correct you. Well, not out loud anyway.
How can I despise the features of my face, when I see them on my son and feel they are perfect? How can I tear down someone else’s child? Bet you didn’t know I was someone’s perfect child. I would never say the things to another woman that I say to myself. There is a bit of honesty I was going to insert right here, but it really made me sound like an asshole. It had to be cut. Just know I am not as kind as that last statement sounded. I am really quite snarky.
So, what have I learned?
It takes a conscious, purposeful effort for me to be kind to myself. Sometimes it takes just as much for me to be kind to others too. I have to frequently redirect myself and somehow prove that I am not quite the ogre-spinster I picture in my head.
Yes. I know. Looks are not everything. If you are nice and behave in a warm, loving way, you are are beautiful. There are a million other cliche phrases I can insert here to fight the good fight against the shallow tide pool of my judgemental mind. Let’s be real though. A girl wants to be pretty. I want to feel pretty.
I’ve spent years trying to pretend I didn’t care and acting out all my tomboy fantasies. I kept my hair chopped off, dressed in horrifically ugly T-shirts with obnoxious sentiments, I even wore a doo-rag religiously for several years. I was trying to prove to myself it was okay for me to hate the way I look. I didn’t care anyway. So there!
All I managed to accomplish is a profound delay in acquiring the skills necessary to operate the various tools of femininity.
I still don’t know how to use the curling iron. The blow dryer is frequently a disaster.
I can’t paint my own nails.
Eyeliner is pretty much hit or miss.
Eyelash curler? Oh, the medieval torture device that must have been invented by a masochist? Nope.
The eyebrows? Yeah, that’s tricky. Mine are frequently crooked, giving me a mildly surprised expression.
My clothes frequently don’t exactly go together. How the hell do people know what makes an outfit? Maybe there is a book. I should google that.
Despite my desperate and often humorous attempts to appear like I have an ounce of taste, I like it. I like wearing clothes I think are cute. I enjoy having long hair. Red lipstick is my absolute favorite thing in the world. Sometimes I even feel kinda cute.
So, I am going to keep taking the damn selfies and practice smiling like a girl. I am going to take selfies making funny faces too. I may even try to learn how to giggle. I owe it to myself and all the people who love me to record the fact I was here.