I don’t look like that. Stop lying.
My father is a believer in technology. He trusts you. He thinks that you always tell the truth. He tells me, “That’s what you look like, and you look fine.”
But that can’t be right, because I just looked in the mirror, and there was a different story looking back at me. In that story, my nose was strong and charismatic. My chin was gentle and sweet. My face was a defiant combination of creative themes and contrasting ideas and my body made sense. Here, in this picture, I am an unfortunate set of errors. My nose is definitely too big, and has strange bumps, like lumpy dough. My chin is surprisingly weak. My face is a jumble of mistakes, like the painter tripped and the brush hit the canvas in the wrong spot, and instead of stopping, she kept going from there, deciding at the last moment to make it a commentary on something sad and awkward.
Take it back. Do it better. I want a refund. I want a redo. I want you to tell the truth about me.
This can’t be right, because last night I was beautiful in that dress– with the thick, sexy belt, and the red heels, for Christmas. Christmas has the color red. I went with that. Last night, I could feel that I was beautiful. I remember the feeling even now. The angle of my neck felt right, like I knew exactly how to hold my head. I felt bold and like I could probably get away with impertinence. When someone mentioned some gorgeous woman (“Oh, god, she’s SO beautiful it’s ridiculous”), and everyone agreed, I felt without thinking that I had nothing to worry about. I mean, look at me. Look at me!
In these pictures, I am clumsy and lumbering and lopsided. I don’t appear to know how my own limbs work. I am always caught with one eye blinking, like I didn’t learn how to blink correctly as a child. Like I am winking grotesquely– maybe having a small seizure. Maybe just spasming. My, how often that young lady in the large belt spasms!
I am pretty sure I was graceful. So this is all wrong. My husband was definitely impressed by my grace. I have even learned to walk in high heels, and that’s taken a long time. OK, not perfectly. But I don’t expect perfection.
My legs looked so sleek, when I glanced down. My arms– not so terribly bulky. Or at least, their roundness was more right than wrong. It balanced me. So I kept glancing down. Nice.
And then, you had to do this. The way you always do. Just when I am happy. Just when I find a truly fabulous outfit, or my hair is so much better than I’d expected it would be, or I begin to suspect that I might be hot. Legitimately hot. Then up you pop, flashing your cruel grin, laughing in snaps to yourself.
(btw, your nose is pretty big, too. not your best angle? HA. source)
Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but sometimes you give the impression that you want me to feel terrible. Tell me the truth– do you hate me? I mean, I have to wonder. Because all of these other people look fine– THEY LOOK FINE! They don’t have food coming out of their mouths or Bell’s Palsy or surprisingly large, snaggled teeth or a mysterious triple chin. So cut the crap. What did I do? Can we be straight with each other here? I will pay you. I will give you money. How much do you want? I’m serious, you’re really messing with me, here. I need to make it stop. What do you want? Dear god, what do you want from me?
DO YOU WANT TO SEE ME CRY?? Is that what you need? You disgusting sadist! You’re horrifying. That’s what you are. Horrifying. I see through you. You aren’t this magical memory making machine of endless scrapbook joy. You’re a subtle, manipulative torture device. You want me to hate myself. Don’t think I don’t know. But I won’t. I won’t hate myself. I looked GOOD in that dress, damnit. I looked good. I looked–
OK, OK, OK. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. We can work something out. We can! We can work together. Just tell me how to stand. Tell me which is my good side. My friends all know which is their good side. Is it possible that I don’t have one? Tell me the truth– am I ugly when I smile? I won’t smile anymore. I’ll just stare straight ahead. Or not straight ahead, but up and to the right a little. Which is probably a better angle. Can you not use flash? I look like I’ve just been revived after having been dead for a long time. Can you take the picture from farther away, so my flaws are more distant? At least take thirty or so, so that maybe one will turn out decent.
I don’t want to beg. But I will beg you. Please. Please, camera. I don’t want to have to live like this– with you ruining all of my favorite moments. All of my best outfits. All of my happiest smiles.
Camera. I believe you too often. My father said you were a great invention. My friends think you make Facebook better. My gorgeous cousin loves you and you love her. You love her SO much.
But maybe you and I are just not going to get along. You don’t like my face. It’s obvious. You don’t like its boldness. You don’t like the parts of me that aren’t skinny. You don’t like how sexy I was in that dress.
And yes, I was sexy.
Or maybe eventually I will just have to laugh right back. And say, “Are you even serious with this? Everyone knows that is not me. Everyone, and especially me, knows that.”
Because the girl in the mirror is telling a different story. And even more importantly, my legs are telling a different story. And my breasts and my dress and my neck and my brain.
And until you can get on board, I will take a million photos of myself in the mirror until I get one that looks the way I like. It’s not cheating. It’s playing fair.
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What is your relationship with the camera? Do you have photos of yourself that you love?
Unroast: Today I love the way I look in knee socks and a sweater (with some stuff in between).
P.S. Thank you to everyone who sent me emails even though the comments were off on the last post.
P.P.S. Christmas was great! And during the Christmas meal at Bear’s mom’s house, she invited me to light Chanukah candles and sing the blessing at the table, and everyone seemed into it. Then, at Bear’s dad’s house later that night, we talked about spirituality for a long time and his stepmom gave one of the most compelling and lovely definitions of God/a higher power I’ve ever heard.
P.P.P.S ONE more thing. Sheesh. This is a tiny little piece I wrote for a fashion site. I thought you guys might like it. It’s about my new faux fur coat, and the picture they asked for? It’s like the one millionth one a friend of mine took of me in the coat. Yeah. It takes that many.