I’m from Louisville, Colorado. It’s not unique to L-Ville, but a great many people from my hometown are super into making their Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and general online persona look as perfect as can be.
Many people I know get professional photography done, in just gorgeous lighting, with all the derpy faces removed. For like, every single occasion imaginable. Anniversary? Better shell out a couple hundred dollars to get those portraits. Pregnancy? Time to pose pensively with a large belly. Grocery shopping? Here I am with the canned beans, just chillin’. Wedding? Don’t even get me started.
At our wedding, the photographer didn’t believe me when I told him again before the ceremony, ‘Thanks, but we only want shots from the ceremony itself. We will not be available after the ceremony.’ He did a fantastic job and the photos he returned to us that very day were beautiful. But there was no posing after the ceremony. There wasn’t a professional photographer in the room while I got ready to be a bride. There were no professional photos of the rehearsal dinner, much less the reception.
I have an online persona. I generally curate it well. I post well-lit, well-exposed, heavily-processed shots of myself when I put them on the blog, and they inevitably end up on Facebook these days. But I think the desire to have a professional take one’s photos and post them on social media, as if they are just how you look all the time, is deeply flawed. It’s as if we are trying to project an image of our lives that is perfect; it is what we wish life were instead of what it is (BOOM subjunctive in English hahahaha). I find in my bare-bones psuedo-ethnographic analysis of the women of suburban Colorado that the pressure is huge to maintain a certain image not too dissimilar to that of our early-20s selves.
Many of the women I know have all but disappeared from social media as their bodies have changed in motherhood and aging, such that I don’t even know what they look like anymore. Women are constantly told that if we aren’t young, ‘unspoiled’ by pregnancy, and perfectly beautiful…well, we simply aren’t worth looking at at all.
I know that my great-grandchildren will probably be able to see a lot of unflattering photos of me online (assuming that it hasn’t become an existence like The Road by Cormac McCarthy). There are photos of me on the web being a dork, pulling stupid faces, and doing things like drinking in the Campo of Chile. I will have to be more open about these things than any previous generation. I think that’s a good thing. Why take the path of hiding everything I did that’s normal?
Recently, I decided to take a bunch of the most unflattering photos of myself from the last couple months and put them into this post specifically. In one place, I hope to dispel the notion that my life was perfectly lit and always well-posed. I hope to show that I didn’t always look nice, and that I sometimes had the misfortune to be caught mid-blink by the shutter. This blog is a self-portrait in progress, after all.
Thus explained, here I am. In all my glory. Laugh along, friends, and appreciate that life isn’t that perfect picture we all might wish to put on Facebook.