Distorted Beauty

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Selfies became a lot more fun when I found apps like Prisma. Now I can make myself look like a cartoon character even if I don’t know how to draw. 

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. 

When I am lucky, I will see a glimpse of the daughter my mother thinks is beautiful. Maybe someday I will feel a little less disdain towards her. 

Selfies are about memories

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I know. It’s funny to make fun of all the silly people who take selfies all the time. I completely disagree with those folks though. There was a time I went out of my way to avoid being in pictures. I hated seeing myself. It was entirely too easy to avoid being in the photos.

This all started to change when I was taking my son to New York City. I found a walking tour with a photographer. I realized how few pictures there were of the two of us together, and I desperately wanted them. This was the beginning of my commitment to my son to give him photographic evidence of our life together. I have never heard someone lament they had too many photos of their loved ones.

 

These photos and the selfies I have been taking with my friends and family are a way to demonstrate I care enough to want a reminder of our relationship.

There are so many people from my past I can barely remember. I have almost no photos of us together (that is if I am lucky to have any at all.) I will not live life that way anymore. I understand before we had instant access to a camera and seemingly unlimited electronic storage it was more difficult. There is no excuse now.

Trust me, most of the time I think I look horrible in these pictures. I got the wrong angle, my chin is super fat, or my nose is all wrinkled up. The people who know me know what I look like. They love me no matter what face the camera managed to catch. If they don’t, I don’t give a shit anyway. I am not totally made up and looking fabulous in all of these photos. I am just my most authentic self.

When I was choosing these photos I was deliberate about choosing memories I loved and not focusing on my perception of my flaws. This is hard for a girl like me. I tend to focus on all the reasons I should not be in the pictures.

Then I get a grip. Of course I should be in the photos of my life! I should get as many photos of me with the people I love as possible. We should really stop worrying about what we think people are thinking about us, and realize most people don’t care. We are hurting ourselves and our friends and family when we refuse to take a picture with them.

  

  
  

These are just a few of my favorite memories from this year. I have been so lucky to be able to go out and meet new people. I have had so many awesome adventures. These people are so special to me and I am excited to have photos I can reminisce over. I would not trade any of these photos for one airbrushed inaccurate representation of my life.

I have no intention of stopping the selfie craze. I refuse to hide from the camera anymore. I hope more of us continue this zany trend.

Do you wanna be my friend?

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Hi Dave. May I call you Dave? Please? I think you are pretty fantastic. We could be friends.

Okay, I admit it. I am one of those annoying people who fantasizes about famous people. I actually size them up and wonder if they would be a good friend. Now, most people know I am obsessed with Dave Grohl. I am pretty sure he would fantastically fun to hang out with. I am also convinced he would like me and my friends. Oddly enough, as I write about him there is a commercial for the Foo Fighters to be on The Today Show. Funny, because watching The Today Show is what prompted this post. 

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This is one of my favorite movies EVER! I love a good coming of age story.

Remember that scene from Almost Famous where Billy Crudup hangs out with some good Topeka people? That may be one of my favorite fantasies. Come on! Who wouldn’t want their favorite star to come hang out with them at a party full of their friends? Perhaps minus the acid trip.

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Doesn’t she look like a fun person? I love how she presents herself and I am pretty sure we would have a great time.

Perhaps my biggest fan crush is still Sandra Bullock. I am CONVINCED she would love to hang out with me and my friends. I love the people who seem real. Yes, I am very aware they are just normal people. That is the point. So am I! We already have something in common.  This all started this morning as I was watching the rerun of The Today Show and Jenna Bush Hager was choosing with Hoda Kotb. She looked so cute in her yellow dress, and she seems so down to earth and fun. I found myself wishing I could be her friend. The first thing I would tell her is how adorable that dress was.

This image released by NBC shows Jenna Bush Hager on NBC News'

Obviously not this dress. However, still adorable. She comes across so friendly and open on air. I love watching her. I am still sure we could be friends. LOL

Now, I have real friends. Lots of them. I also have a whole tribe of new friends who I get to go on adventures with. So, why do I judge people on whether or not I think they would make a good friend? It is a good yard stick. So, what makes a good friend?

  1. Honesty paired with kindness. If I look terrible in something, tell me! It is highly probable I did not realize how off I was that day. However, if I am excited about whatever outfit, hairstyle, or makeup technique I have tried, please be kind. You may gently redirect me if I am way off, but don’t humiliate me. I am sensitive.
  2. Always up for a laugh or a cry. You have to be willing to be with your friends in good times and hard times. If you bail as soon as the good times are over, you pretty much suck.
  3. You like me for me. I am quirky at best. Some people enjoy my quirks. Others, not so much. It is okay if we don’t necessarily gel, but don’t pretend we do.
  4. You forgive mistakes. I am not perfect. I make lots of social mistakes. I am not comfortable in many situations. This is getting better, however I still need lots of reassurance and advice. I want to fit in and have a good time. Help a girl out.
  5. You enjoy getting my random selfies from time to time. Yep. I am a selfie girl. This is new for me. I went years avoiding the camera because I felt fat. I finally realized it is fun to take silly, not always flattering pics of myself. I share them with you to make you laugh. Or just to be funny. LAUGH! That’s the point. I am not shallow I think these selfies mean anything. It has become funny. The middle-aged chick taking selfies like a teenager. Jump in the selfie with me. It is fun.
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See? It’s all about having fun. Not taking everything so seriously. Friends are fun!

I spent years feeling awkward and just not fitting in. Then, I learned to just be myself. I have nothing to prove and I am a lot nicer when I am comfortable being me. It helps that I have surrounded myself with people who enjoy my company and laugh when I am being funny. They also laugh at times when I am not trying to be funny… oh well, you can’t win them all. 

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Well, you gotta mix the selfies up.

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One of my favorite pics of all time There is a video that was accidentally shot first. We were having such a good time.

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Yes, it is completely appropriate to force the waiter into out selfie shenanigans. Don’t worry, we tip well.

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It is all about having a good time. You can be there in the not so good times, but in the end- we are having fun.

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You know, Angela has been making me take pics for years. She may be the first person who insisted on chronically our adventures with a camera. So, thank her or blame her. Man- Yet another time I was horribly sunburned.

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Highly posed selfies are the best. You don’t actually think these funny moments just happen do you? Of course they do! Sometimes they are recreated for the camera… but where do you think we get the idea?

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Obligatory group pic! The pretty lady in white was about to be a married woman.

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Of course only one of us was ready for this photo…. This is part of the fun!

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We are about to get Muddy!!!!

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I wish Kristianne’s face wasn’t cut off… but, I think Angela and I look great! We were having such a good time.

Angela, my best friend probably deserves some recognition. She has been essentially a photo journalist for as long as I have known her. I used to make fun of her for always having a camera, however she deserves credit. She was the first person besides my family who made me get in the picture. I am so grateful for that. It has allowed me to have a lot of memories I could have lost without the record. One important point: not all selfies have to flattering and at just the right angle. We need to stop trying to hide all our imperfections. They are just part of us. The people who love us, love us with our imperfections. They are well aware of those occasional skin breakouts. They know all about that funny face we make when we are laughing genuinely. They love it. Stop trying to make everything so perfect. Our people love us exactly as we are. If they don’t, they are not our people. Nyki, what is your point? You are rambling and for some reason walking down memory lane posting random pics on your plea for famous people to come hang out with you. Well, the point is our friends are the people who we pick to become part of our lives. We share our true selves with them. You can never love too many people. You just have to let them in. It is a good idea to get lots of pics, you never know when you will want to reminisce and enjoy a meandering stroll through your adventures and shenanigans with your friends. PS. If anyone knows Sandra Bullock, Jenna Bush Hager, Dave Grohl, or Vince Vaughn please let them know they are more than welcome to come hang out with me and my friends. I promise plenty of selfie opportunities, and we may just have to take a trip to Target. Why Target? Because that is what we do.