I had kind of an annoying experience yesterday. It was early evening, and I was binge watching Audit the Audit videos on YouTube. They’re very addictive and educational, you know.
While I was watching the videos, I was sort of half-assed looking at Facebook. At some point recently, I started following a chef/author called Culinary Anarchy. He’s kind of entertaining and snarky. He posted something that made me pause…
I get that the good chef posted the words “generally speaking”. But then he wrote, “I’ve run this page for over a decade now and this is the case more often than not…..”
I know… I should have just kept scrolling, but I couldn’t help but remember that cursed day in August 2008, when I first got on Facebook. At the time, I didn’t have many good pictures of myself. We lived in Germany at the time, and I didn’t own a cell phone. I didn’t need one, because those were the early days of the iPhone, and no one ever called me… Free, public WiFi wasn’t yet a thing (especially in Germany), and we didn’t want to get tied down with a cell phone contract. Turns out that was a good plan, since we didn’t quite make it to our second anniversary during that first stint. As it was, Bill had a really cheap phone that was very primitive. I finally got my first iPhone in 2009.
I was not a Mac user until around 2011, and my HP computer didn’t have an internal camera on it. If it did, I didn’t know about it. And even if it did, I really didn’t know how to take selfies. I also didn’t like it when other people took pictures of me, especially when they were unflattering and the photographer insisted on sharing them. One of my pet peeves is when I’m trying to eat dinner or something and some photographer wants to take a photo and sell it to me. I mostly find having my picture taken kind of mortifying.
So, for the first couple of years that I was a Facebook user, I didn’t really use pictures of myself on my profile. I think the first time I used a photo of myself was in the summer of 2009, when we went on a Royal Caribbean Baltic cruise (our first cruise, and the only one we’ve ever done on a big ship). On that cruise, the photographer did get a somewhat decent shot of Bill and me. We bought it, and I took a picture of it, because I didn’t have a scanner. That served as my profile pic for awhile. I think I used another selfie in 2011 sometime, when I bought my first Mac, and discovered the camera function.
I remember some friends being kind of excited by that photo. One friend wrote something along the lines of, “It’s you. It’s YOU! You’re lovely!” I was dressed up because Bill and I were going to an event in downtown Atlanta. Some people in the state of Georgia had organized a fundraiser for the country of Georgia. We thought it might be interesting, so we went. And I took that opportunity to take a new selfie.
Slowly, over the years, I got braver about taking selfies. For the longest time, I wouldn’t use my phone to take one, but now I’ve finally figured out how to flip the image so I don’t look deranged. So now, there are more photos of me available for people to look at, if they are so inclined to do that. But I still don’t go out of my way to have my photo taken, and I wouldn’t say I change pictures very often. Mostly, it’s because I hate putting on makeup.
Recently, I started videoing myself for my YouTube videos. I still can’t bear to watch myself on camera, but I’ve been told it’s better for engagement. It’s also a lot easier to make videos with a video recording, rather than using still photos. I can just take the whole thing and paste it in, rather, than adjusting for timing and putting in transitions. I much prefer not having to put photos in videos on my creaky iMac, which will be retired in the coming days, as I just ordered a new computer yesterday. Adding still photos tends to make my machine freeze.
You may have gotten the idea by now that I don’t think of myself as particularly appealing to look at. I feel self-conscious. I still don’t use the video function when I make recordings on SingSnap. I don’t like doing video calls with people. In fact, I don’t even like making or receiving phone calls, anymore (that wasn’t always the case). And I have also come to dislike most chat, too… even with Bill. In short, I’ve become kind of a reclusive curmudgeon.
Anyway, when I saw that post by Culinary Anarchy, I decided to comment. I wrote this:
“I did it because I was ugly.“
I was actually kind of being facetious. I know I’m not an “ugly” person, at least not in the physical sense. I don’t actually think there are a lot of truly “ugly” people in the world, literally or figuratively. But I didn’t feel the need to explain that to the peanut gallery.
It didn’t take long before someone left me a response. I actually liked what this guy wrote.
…that’s my current dilemma. Hit a certain point in my life where I don’t even wanna look in the mirror so I don’t post selfies much anymore and I don’t wanna post old pics of me.
Yes… this guy totally gets it. There comes a point in your life when you don’t want to be reminded of what time has done to your face and physique. It has nothing to do with being stalked or stalking other people. Some people also just don’t feel the need to put it all out there, regardless. Even in this age of social media saturation, some people still like their privacy.
So then I wrote, “I don’t photograph well and it took a long time before I learned how to do selfies.”
If I can control the camera, I can avoid the half lidded, half blinking look, half dozen chins, big zits, gin blossoms, wrinkles, or whatever else is distressing for me to look at. Maybe that’s vain of me, but life is tough enough without that burden, right?
There were a couple of kind and complimentary comments, which I appreciated, but wasn’t necessarily fishing for.
And then came the comment from that person… you know the kind– the person who assumes too much. Here’s what she wrote:
as my kid would say, you look normal.
Most of us look normal and not like models or social media influencers and that’s ok.
Ahem… Maybe it’s me, but I found this to be a pretty obnoxious and presumptuous comment. Where did this person get the idea that I hoped to look like a model or a social influencer? Especially since I now have a photo of myself on my profile. I obviously overcame my hesitation, right? But even if I hadn’t done that and was still using a picture of a grey heron as my profile pic, would this lady be assuming I want to look like a model? Or I was being stalked by someone? The point is, some of us don’t like how we look in photos, and we’re all too aware of not looking like models.
So I wrote this:
Yeah, I eventually got over it. Never expected to look like a model or a social influencer. I just didn’t want to cringe.
I noticed that I certainly wasn’t the only one who posted that I didn’t use a profile picture of myself because I felt “too ugly.” So I don’t know if Culinary Anarchy’s theory necessarily holds up as much as he assumes it does. Still, I was a little irritated by that woman’s comment about models and social influencers. I know… I have an ego issue. Prick me and I bleed. The older I get, the more people bug me.
I tell you what… I probably would have been less annoyed if the woman hadn’t ended her comment with “and that’s okay.” I think of strangers telling me “and that’s okay” as the catchphrase for the “overly helpful.” It’s as if she thought I was angsty and needed her consolation or reassurance. Actually, I think she needed a hearty “Fuck off and die” or something more colorful like that…
Back when I first posted my original selfies, I had a few “overly helpful” people on my friends list. I was a lot “nicer” in those days, so I was pretty tolerant of their irritating attempts to boost themselves by offering lame observations or attempts to be unsolicited “helpers”.
Overly helpful types of people tend to act like other people need their sage wisdom to get through life. They offer unwelcome advice, play “devil’s advocate”, or armchair psychoanalyze. In fairness, a lot of us do the armchair psychoanalysis thing, but it’s pretty annoying when people are bold enough to do it, unasked for, to someone else’s face. Feeling comfortable enough to do that, especially to someone one has never even met in person, often indicates a lack of respect.
Respect is a big deal to me. I spent too many years not being respected by people who supposedly loved me. So now, if someone is disrespectful to me, I tend to form a negative opinion and remember it for a long time.
So then I asked my friends this question:
Why do people feel the need to make assumptions about total strangers based on innocuous Facebook comments? I said I didn’t have a FB profile photo for awhile because I was “ugly”. I then explained that I don’t photograph well and once lacked selfie skills. Some person accused me of wanting to look like a model or a social influencer, then helpfully added that most of us don’t look like that, “and that’s okay.”
Nah, I never expected any of that. I just don’t like cringing at my visage.
That question invited more compliments and protests about my self-evaluation of my appearance. Again, I was genuinely asking the question, not looking for compliments. Okay, I was also annoyed and venting a little bit, too.
So I finally wrote this:
I think Bill is a handsome man, but he had the same problem I had. I am good at taking his picture, though, because I love him and make a point of catching his best features. Most people who photograph me (Bill included), get my multiple chins, cellulite, and beer gut. I just don’t want to see that in a photo of me. If I want to see that, I’ll look in the mirror.
It’s true. I am legitimately very good at taking pictures of Bill. It’s not exactly an easy thing to do, either. He’s a very good looking man, in my opinion. However, he often doesn’t photograph well, because he’s camera shy and self-conscious about his appearance. He also has sensitive eyes and blinks easily. I have figured out a way to get him to look his best. It usually involves my telling him a dirty joke and making him laugh, then having laser sharp reflexes. Even with that method, sometimes I fail and catch him mid blink or slouching too much. I delete those photos, which he appreciates. I have gotten some pretty great shots of him, much to his mom’s delight.
Alas, Bill hasn’t caught on to using that trick for me. Or maybe he’s just better looking than I am. 😉 However, I have noticed that some of the best photos of me are the ones with him in them. He genuinely makes me smile, so I don’t look fake. When I take a selfie and try to smile, it often doesn’t look right, because it’s too posed. Lighting is also important. I look best in natural sunlight.
I know some people think all of this sounds vain… and maybe it is vain. But since I probably look at and notice my profile picture the most, I figure I should have one that doesn’t offend me. It doesn’t mean I want to be a model (Jesus Christ, really?). I have no desire to be a social influencer (and I’m 50 fucking years old, so that ain’t happening.) What other people think of my visage is really none of my business. I just don’t want to look like Ziggy. I’m much less concerned about my friends laughing at my photo at home, than I am about having to face that reflection myself.
… and that’s okay… (BARF)