the photo is lying

I wrote this piece for my Mirror Mirror column. As soon as I feel human again, I will write more original content for this blog. It’s been a rough month! But I like this piece: 

I was looking seriously cute. My hair was behaving commendably, my face did not have anything obviously wrong with it, my belt was making my waist look seductive, and my new boots gave me a taller, lither look than I’m accustom to. Even my little boobs were cheerful and holding form in my bra, rather than sliding disobediently down, as is their evil habit.

“You look great!” said Bear, picking up on the whole thing. He snapped a photo on his phone. And another, and then a third.

“Hmm,” he said, “I can’t really get a good angle. Wait.” One more. “Okay,” he said, sounding satisfied. He showed me.

It was a little shocking, how wrong I’d been. My hair was stringy and frazzled at the same time. My face had aged 10 years. My waist was bulging around the belt, and my little stunted legs looked almost hilariously comical in their silly, trying-too-hard boots. Even in the “good” shot, I appeared to be lumbering off to terrorize a small village, possibly to capture a maiden or two and haul them off to my cave for supper. I’m not even going to get started on my boobs.

Holy shit, everything can change in a second, when it comes to how you feel about the way you look. And for me, it often changes when I see a photo.

 

How pathetically arrogant and ignorant of me, I think, for allowing myself the momentary delusion of beauty!How ridiculously oblivious I was, for blithely thinking that I might look sexy or pretty or even reasonably nice. Well, here is the crushing evidence to the contrary. I am no such thing! I am monstrous. I am ill-made. I should hide in the dark somewhere. At the very least, I shouldn’t bother to wear cute things ever—they just look absurd on me. 

I am not alone in this repeated realization. Women write to me sometimes to tell me about what a single tagged photo on Facebook can do to a good day, or even a good week. My friends sift through photos gingerly, untagging, deleting liberally, complaining loudly about their hair, their weight, their everything. I think everyone knows that feeling, when an image pops up of you that looks almost nothing like you think you look and everything like you are most afraid of looking. Especially when that image was captured on a day when you thought things were going well. At a party where you loved your dress, on your birthday, when you’d put extra effort into your makeup, right after you lost the weight that you thought you needed to lose to look good, at your own damn wedding, when you were supposed to be radiant, for God’s sake.

(some of my favorite photos of myself from my wedding are like this one, where you can’t actually see my face. And honestly, I can’t even bring myself to look at most of them, still, two years later.)

All it takes is one photo sometimes, and you suddenly feel terrible.

My parents are photographers. I grew up in a house with a darkroom, with buckets full of mysterious chemicals. They met when they were teenagers and there are albums full of gorgeous black and white, sepia, and boldly colored photos they took of each other, while experimenting with their old-fashioned camera collection. My mom—obviously pretty and extremely photogenic, shines in all of them. Later, they were delighted by advances in digital photography, and were among the first to switch eagerly over, before it was popular. They are great believers in the truth the lens tells. So when I started wondering aloud as a teenager why I looked so bad in some of the pictures my dad took, he’d tell me, “That’s just what you look like!” He didn’t say it in a mean way. He’d say, “Don’t be so worried about it. Everyone is so worried about how they look in pictures. It’s just how you look. You look fine.”

(nice hair…)

But I didn’t look fine. I looked fine in some, and good in a few, and absolutely terrible in others. I recognized myself in some and not in others. My big nose didn’t photograph right. Light from the flash seemed to dance crazily off its planes, making it appear much larger in pictures, or surprisingly lumpy in ways it wasn’t in the mirror. The new digital photos captured every pimple, every messy eyebrow hair. And since I believed my dad, I believed that this was me. The truth was, I was ugly. Maybe I looked pretty to myself sometimes in the mirror, but that wasn’t right. The photos never lied.

(I remember when I saw this photo for the first time, and I was SO UPSET. I thought I looked great that day. Emily and I are, what? 14? 15? Dressed up for the homeschool prom–that’s another story–and we bought our dresses together and everything. But my nose is doing its mean thing. I couldn’t believe how huge it looked in this photo! I couldn’t believe how shapeless my dress, and my body, looked.)

I don’t believe that anymore.

Now, I think that photos lie all the time. In fact, they lie about my dad—the person who swears by their honesty the most. My dad is unphotogenic. Handsome in person, his expressions don’t translate in photos. He’s often caught blinking, squinting, between gestures, between expressions. I’m like that, too. My brothers aren’t. Their faces, like my mom’s, are placid, consistent. Some friends show up perfectly in pictures—Of course, you think,smiling, that’s so Julia! There she is, making her classic face. Other classic faces never come across. I am sometimes surprised to meet a gorgeous woman and then flip through her Facebook pictures and find that she simply doesn’t look that good in them. She simply doesn’t look like herself.

But here’s the thing—even if photos were telling the truth most of the time, I don’t care. We shouldn’t believe them. We should willfully ignore them. Not because we should choose denial over acceptance or delusion over knowledge. But because there are other truths, too, and photos should never get the final say. There is the mirror. There are different angles that tell different stories. There is the way other people see you. There is even the way you feel. Yeah, that counts, too. Feeling hot and awesome goes a long way. Feeling happy does, too.

(this is my favorite kind of photo of myself. it implies that I’m more slender than I actually am, it was taken when I weighed less than I do now, it’s blurry and artsy and vague, and my face isn’t in it. Also my neck looks long. I love photos where my neck looks long. In real life, my neck is not even a little bit long.)

At the end of the day, it might be the case that I am not that gorgeous. But I know that I am perfectly capable of looking good. And I know when I am rocking an outfit, or, you know, a pair of new sexy boots. And if some photo wants to try to tell me different—if it wants to yell mean things about how I’ll never be anything except for a hideous troll who is drooling all over her flat chest, I am claiming the right to ignore that photo and every other one like it.

Because a photo is just one version of a very detailed tale. It’s like one sentence, or one word. Sometimes the word is totally misspelled. Sometimes it’s the wrong word entirely. And in this tale that is my life, I have definitely been the princess in the perfectly fitted gown, not just the marauding ogre. I am the princess with a sword buckled to her hip. I can defend myself.

You should, too, if you find yourself staring in dull astonishment at yet another image of yourself that shouldn’t exist, cheerfully tagged on Facebook by a friend, who is supposed to care about you, who earnestly believes you look nice there, or your mom, who can’t tell the difference between pretty and horrifying pictures of you because she gave birth to you and you will forever be her beautiful, perfect child. Untag it, buckle on your sword belt, and move on. You don’t look like that. The photo is lying.

 

(I love this photo of myself– taken just before I cut off my hair. I am much less likely to believe the good photos, though, for some reason. I always feel like they’re the ones that are lying, and the bad ones are telling the difficult truth. But I would like to look like this, and actually, it IS me in the photo, so maybe some photos are worth listening to…you just have to be careful which ones you choose to believe)

*  *  *

Are you photogenic? How do photos of yourself affect you?

Unroast: Today I love the way I haven’t looked in the mirror in a while.

84 Comments »

Kate on January 8th 2013 in beauty

84 Responses to “the photo is lying”

  1. Trish responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:20 am #

    I know exactly what you’re talking about. When you get all dressed up, do your hair and make-up and you look in the mirror and you think “Wow, I actually look really good!” and then your friend takes a picture and you think “Wait. That’s not what I looked like a half an hour ago in the mirror at my house.” And then you run to the bathroom to make sure you don’t ACTUALLY look like that, and of course the mirror tells you that you in fact DO look good, but maybe not as good as you thought previously before the picture was taken. The picture changes the way you see yourself. I never understood how this happens.
    And also, for me at least, on days when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see and then take a picture of yourself and in the picture you look amazing. Yeah, I don’t get that either.

  2. San D responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:20 am #

    Photos capture one nanosecond in time, whereas the other nanoseconds the lens isn’t there. So, like cubisim, trying to capture all the sides and time at once, it is impossible. I don’t like photographs taken of me, but am perfectly happy taking them of myself, presenting who I think I am to the world through MY lens. But then again, that’s my perception of who I am…
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/31239756@N04/3972238717/in/set-72157622908500215

  3. dustwindbun responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:37 am #

    I know it’s missing the point, but I just wanted to tell you how much I love your prom picture. Your expression is wonderful. It says I WILL MURDER YOU AND YOU WILL LOVE ME FOR IT. It’s amazing and I wish my face would do that.
    Thank you for sharing all these wonderful pictures, and of course, your eloquent-as-always words.

  4. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:41 am #

    @Trish
    Be thankful for those days you’re talking about at the end of the comment. That is totally awesome.
    And yes, the picture totally changes the way you see yourself. Sometimes I find myself not wanting to wear outfits that there are bad photos of me in. Ugh

  5. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:42 am #

    @San D
    I LOVE that pic of you. It captures your spirit.

  6. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:43 am #

    @dustwindbun
    Ha! What a funny reaction! The thing is, I don’t even remember scowling at the time, I think I was just being awkward. And there I am, this huge-nosed, angry-looking girl in a tent of a dress. Now, it’s sort of endearing, but then, wow…I felt cursed! :-)

  7. Terri responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I used to think I was photogenic but now I don’t. I used to have really bad acne. Luckily, the problem has cleared up but I’m not left with a bunch of acne scars that just won’t go away no matter what I do. So I do what any normal person would do. I put on tons of concealer and foundation to cover it up to reveal a flawless face. And then I take a picture and suddenly it looks like a game of connect the dots has appeared all over my face. But for some reason, it never looks like that in my mirror. So I’ve just come the realization that I’m just not meant for photos.

    I remember back when I looked great in pictures back in college. Now I look terrible. It’s like I’ve aged ten years over night.

  8. Another Melanie responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:52 am #

    I don’t think I’m terribly photogenic or unphotogenic. Somewhere in the middle, I guess. I’m mostly pleased with how the photos of my wedding day turned out (almost 5 years ago – how fast does time fly?!), but pretty much every self portrait I try to take makes me look like some abstract art version of myself, where the scale of my facial features just seems completely at odds with what I see in the mirror. And it is demoralizing.

    My wedding video, though? I’m TERRIFIED of watching it. I don’t think I’ll be able to do it until we’re sharing it with our currently nonexistent future children. A photo may lie about that nanosecond it captured, but a video is you, in motion, captured as you really are. I’m afraid I’ll see just how ungraceful and awkward I really am. It makes me anxious just thinking about it.

  9. Sheryl responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:58 am #

    I’m not particularly photogenic either. For every picture of myself that I’m happy with I have dozens that I think I look terrible in. Sometimes I get obsessed with having a few great pictures of myself and sometimes I’ll avoid cameras for months at a go because I’m not interested in what they can tell me about myself.

    What I long ago decided about photos is that they miss the animation and action that make us beautiful. They can capture on fraction of an expression; but when we smile in real life it’s not just a giant grin static on our faces but rather it unfolds and all the individual moments of that are part of what makes it so beautiful (this applies to pretty much any expression, really).

  10. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 10:59 am #

    @Another Melanie
    Yup. I feel you. I haven’t watched my wedding video.

  11. Kelly responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Lately I’ve been having a similar-but-kind-of-opposite problem. I’ve gained about 10 or 15 pounds this year, and I keep finding myself look back through all of my old facebook pictures where I was 10 or 15 pounds lighter. At the time they were taken, of course, I thought I was fat and huge. Now I look back and want to punch my past self in the face for not appreciating what I had, which was a closet and dresser full of clothes that fit.

    It’s still that feeling though, the way a few pictures or even just one makes your heart sink and confidence completely disappear.

    It happened in real life recently at a holiday party, too. I got all dressed up and did my hair and makeup perfectly and actually felt good about myself. When I got to the party, I remember glimpsing myself in the bathroom mirror while other other girls were at the sink next to me, tall and thin, and I looked 25 pounds heavier than when I had left the house an hour ago.

    Why are our brains so cruel to us?!

  12. Sari responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 11:12 am #

    A) I think I have Emily’s dress, some stoop sale find in Brooklyn for a buck or two. Unless I gave it away at some point. That’s possible. I don’t know. Most of my life is in storage.

    B) S has said to me a depressing amount of times, “I’ve never met someone who is so beautiful and so utterly NOT photogenic.” Sigh. And we have so few pictures of the two of us that it’s pitiful.

    C) I’m convinced that I’d love your parents.

    D) Feel better. (Duh.)

  13. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 11:14 am #

    @Sari
    I love Emily’s dress! Looking at the picture now, I’m like, why didn’t I go with a dress like that??

  14. Janet T responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 11:42 am #

    I used to know a girl who was one of the most unattractive people in person that I had ever met- and she modeled- her pictures were so gorgeous- I could not wrap my brain around it. I, on the other hand- with the exception of my wedding photos that are close to 29 years old now- never take a decent picture. OK, maybe one a year, if I am really lucky. I have found that my favorite pictures of me are taken when I’m laughing- and I’m laughing in most of them. So maybe they don’t look like what I think I look like- but they do seem to express my joy in the situation at hand. Maybe that’s enough to expect, enough to hope for.
    @San D- love that picture of you.

  15. Steff responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 11:44 am #

    Ugh. I long ago made it so that only I can see tagged photos of myself on Facebook since I look unacceptably high in an unacceptably high percentage of them.

    What’s curious though — and I think a lot of people have this experience — is that I know people who consider themselves unphotogenic even though their pictures look fine to *me*. At least, like your Dad said, it doesn’t seem their photos lie/are particularly unflattering. It always frustrates me when they ask for retakes and I can’t tell the difference between the supposedly good and supposedly bad photos.

    Then again, I’ve had people say that of me as well, so I think the conclusion to draw may simply be that we are far harsher critics of ourselves than others.

  16. Also Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    Last year I went to a holiday party and thought I looked great, and someone took a photo of me sitting on a couch, holding a drink and talking to a friend, and I couldn’t believe how horrible it was. Here I thought I looked pretty, had a new dress, had just gotten my (very short) hair trimmed so it wasn’t unruly, and in fact I somehow looked monstrous and unkempt.

    This year, heading to the same party, I took an extra half hour to make sure my hair was perfect and stupid holiday stress acne was covered up, chose an extra-flattering dress, wore my favorite cowboy boots, fancy delicate tights, and dangly earrings, and was prepared to actually look good in photographs this time around. And when someone posted photos on Facebook within an hour or two of my getting home, I realized I look even MORE ridiculous. Not ‘ugly’ so much as I don’t even recognize myself. My facial features are arranged in unfamiliar patterns. My hair is sticking up. My dress looks great in the pictures, but I’m holding my limbs at weird angles. Hell, in half of the photos, I was holding and playing with a 5-month-old baby, and even that didn’t help. (He looks adorable in the photos, though. Which is ok; I don’t begrudge him that.)

    So yeah, I don’t think I’m photogenic. And in the few photos I love of myself, I’m laughing. But not in the crazy, face-twisted way (I have one of those). Just laughing too hard to think. So apparently that’s the only facial expression of mine that ought to be captured on camera.

  17. Dana responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    You and your friend Emily look AWESOME in that prom picture. Totally beautiful, totally rocking the red (lipstick! and dresses! and jewelry!). You both look as sexy and mysterious and elegant as two 14- or 15-year-olds can look, plus totally happy. Just sayin’.
    P.S. Yeah homeschool proms.

  18. Caitlin responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    I wish I were photogenic. I at least had the good fortune to know someone in high school who was just normal looking, but was so photogenic in every damn picture it was like she was a model, so I at least understood it wasn’t a real representation of how people look. My logic was “well, her skeleton must be prettier than mine”.

    I still hate seeing pictures of myself though. I was in my friend’s wedding this year and I grinned and beared it through all the pictures, thinking “these will be in her house, not mine”. Then she gave me some of the pictures, and I now feel obligated to display them. Sigh. I need to go look at myself in a mirror, so I can convince myself that dynamic me and static me don’t look anything like each other.

  19. Danielle responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    You know, its funny. I photograph really well and I often feel like a fraud. Like- that’s not what I look like in real life. When I accidentally see myself in a shiny surface its usually pretty disappointing! hahaha

  20. Pamela-Marie responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Wow,you said exactly what I have been going through! I had an unexpected FB photo,posted by a friend of a friend( If it had been my Friend they would have known better!) Tip me over the edge for almost a week.
    I am convinced that a wee demon hides in every mirror,and distorts the image!
    My new favourite quotation is” a photo is just one version of a very detailed tale”
    Sooooo true!

  21. Amy J responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:23 pm #

    Thank you so much! I think this all of the time. It happens with recordings too. I usually can’t stand to hear my own voice. Which is hard when you sing in a band! It must come too from our expectations about who we are. Other people see us as beautiful because they see us from the outside, free of our expectations. I can say that mine are mostly unreasonable expectations, so I’m sure that’s a lot of it.

  22. Lorie responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    Agreed, Kate. I have been trying to take a photo for my Facebook profile for years and I can’t get it. I asked my son, a photographer, to do it…no go. He needs to do it when I don’t know he’s taking the pic, so now I have a distant shot of me on it. We didn’t send out our traditional family photo Christmas cards for years because we couldn’t get our (then) teen boys to cooperate. Finally got them to cooperate this year, but I was the only one who looked bad in all of them. I sent the card anyway.

  23. M responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:43 pm #

    Kate,

    You are beautiful. You have physical beauty that is real, but really, your beauty explodes with your gift of words and truth. Everyone, even the men I would wager, know that exact moment. For me, it was realizing I had gained 70 lbs…Oh, I knew it…everytime I put clothes on, but it was the photo that made me realize it. I was looking around the photograph for myself…I knew I had been in the photo but the fat woman in my clothes could not possibly be me!

  24. Abby responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Oh, I totally understand. Usually when I’m feeling good is when I photograph the most terribly. When I smile or laugh for real, a part of me wants to think that it’s lovely and alluring because happiness is pretty or whatever. But in photos you can see that my eyes squinch up and almost always look closed and it just doesn’t work.

    Or when I do capoeira(Afro-brazilian martial art, I absolutely love it)–when I do it, I feel good. I feel strong and capable and kickass. I know I don’t look pretty because I’m not an exercise model and athletic clothes aren’t very flattering on me. But some of my favorite pictures are the unflattering ones because regardless of how I look, I’m usually smiling and I’m usually with people who are like family. I like those pictures more for the memories they bring to mind than how I actually look in them, if that makes any sense.

    I’ve started to get over the need to look good in photos, because so much of it depends on angles and lighting and everything. And to me, photos that bring up happy memories mean more than ones where I look pretty. Maybe it’s because I can take nice photos when I want to. Maybe it’s because if I want to look pretty I can’t have my “real” smile. But with facebook at least, I’d rather have a profile picture that says something about who I am(a capoeira picture, a picture with my family) than one where I just look good.

  25. Abby responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    @Amy J

    I totally agree on the voice thing, too…which can be especially hard when you’re a Music Major! I like the way my voice sounds when I’m performing, but recordings…ugggggh.

  26. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    @Abby and Amy J
    I’m in on this one, too….I actually usually love my singing voice when I’m performing, but on recordings it always sounds thinner, weaker, and girlier than I expect. It’s always a little bit of a shock. I have this goal of getting a recording of myself one day that I LOVE. We’ll see…. :-)

  27. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    @Abby
    I think it’s awesome that you do a martial art.

  28. Eve responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    Kate-this is not quite related to this (extremely well written!) piece, but I felt compelled to tell you that you have the most beautiful skin, and I am really jealous!

  29. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:09 pm #

    @Eve
    That is so sweet. Right now I have broken out in a series of unrelenting and cruel pimples, so I’m going to repeat that compliment to myself until that changes :p

  30. Claire responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Haha, brilliant text !
    My sister insists that I have a “photo smile” that is supposedly not my nice, natural smile. She says that’s why I look akward in pictures.
    She, on the contrary, has litterally TRAINED herself to give the perfect smile to the camera every single time, and it works : she is *ridiculously* photogenic (and quite cute anyway). We had some funny moments where in the middle of some random argument where she would be really crossed, someone would take a picture and she would interrupt herself, give her angelic smile and then go back to being cross. I’m not even kidding.
    Looking back at some old pictures though, I find myself being generally less harsh. I think more like : “well, I shouldn’t have hated myself so much, I wasn’t really all that bad”. I force myself to think the same way about today : growing old is unlikely to make me more beautiful (although inner beauty blablabla), and I’ll probably end up looking sadly at today’s pictures thinking “what a waste of time, I was really ok after all”. So might as well stop now. Doesn’t work every time, but it does help a bit…
    I still completely relate to what you say about clothes though. Years after I look at an outfit that I was SO proud of and realize….nope. Definetely doesn’t do me any favour. Sigh……

  31. TropicalChrome responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    I am not photogenic. I’m not ugly; the way my face reflects light does not work well with how cameras pick it up. People who know me and love me and have told me I look great look at some pictures of me and say “Oh, dear, did you have the flu that day?”

    I don’t really mind so much any more. See, I had a theory that one of the many factors why so many people think they’re ugly is that the only pictures we see day in and day out are of perfect, idealized, photoshopped models that look nothing like us. So I did an experiment on myself to see if exposing myself to more pictures of more actual people would change my perceptions. One of those actual people was myself :) .

    And yes, it did change my perceptions. Hugely. While one data point does not a valid scientific study make, it sure supports that theory. So no, I don’t hate how I look in pictures so much any more, even if they aren’t exactly what I see in the mirror.

  32. Sara responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    @terri, I use aveda oils (I think I have the beautifying and the tea tree) and they have helped my scars so much more than anything I’ve tried before. This is my second batch of scars and theyve healed about 10x as faster than the first time with a different regimen. I also use a light exfoliater at night when I take off my makeup. I use SPF 60 on the scars everyday (this is all under makeup. I Leave the oils on for 10 minutes before adding sunscreen, acne ointment. Then I wait a few more minutes before concealer and mineral powder). Hope that helps!

    On topic- totally feel ya. I usually remove the horrible ones from my timeline. The average ones I usually keep though.

  33. Claire responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:32 pm #

    …. But then I’d like to add : my boyfriend hates himself in pictures, though his face is not only truly gorgeous but also photogenic (at some stage he was asked to do some modelling stuff -and refused). His pain when he sees himself and experiences this disappointment is no less genuine though. He doesn’t care too much, but nothing can really convince him that he looks fine either.
    I feel like we’re all like that with ourselves. We want to be perfect otherwise we feel incredibly vulnerable. The good people love us the way we are though, and probably wouldn’t change a thing because what we look like physically is so intertwined with the love others have for us that there really is no such thing as “objective” beauty -objective anything, actually.

  34. Allyson responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    Ugh, I look terrible in pictures! I think it’s because I try to pose and smile, and fail miserably. I’ve noticed that the best pictures of me are the ones where I didn’t realize my picture was being taken. As soon as I notice the camera, I inevitably blink, or my eyes are all bugged out because I’m making it a point not to blink, or my face looks funny because I’m focused on sucking in my stomach. My husband has managed to get some decent pictures of me by sneaking the camera out when I’m not looking though. And every single time, once I notice, I grab the camera from him, angry, then am shocked to see the picture isn’t too bad.

  35. Darcy responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    I’m worse than you when it comes to photos. I have actually refused to be in photos because I don’t like how I look when I have my photo taken.

    Those who know me – now know I am serious when I say that I don’t want my photo shot. I think I scared a few of them when they found out I wasn’t joking. :-(

  36. Jennifer S. responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    It was always hit or miss with me. If I liked pics or not. A lot of the time I didn’t mind though. As I got older, I got to the point that I didn’t want to be in any pictures. Ack. But some photographer friends asked me to join them in their self portrait 365 project. Pictures of me for the whole year? Crazy!! But I did it! And…I loved the results! I posted them all on facebook to be accountable. I realized that I can take a good pic and I can still take a bad pic. But if I am in a picture, it isn’t the end of the world now. I just smile and hope for the best. Everyone knows what I look like irl anyway… :)

  37. Terri responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    @Sara

    Thanks so much for the tip. I’ve never heard of aveda oils before. I will definitely be trying that for my scars.

  38. Amanda responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    I am so not photogenic. I make up for it by making a goofy face whenever someone tries to take my picture. Nine times out of ten, it looks better than it would have if I just smiled.

  39. Another Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 4:05 pm #

    I am totally photogenic, and there are still a ton of pictures of me that make me want to hide in a cave and never show my face again! And, like you, seeing a bad picture of myself makes me adverse to wearing the outfit I wore in that picture again, like it’s that shirt’s fault that the camera is lying about my looks!
    When I was fatter, I hated every picture of myself, always. It’s amazing how people will still say that I was beautiful back then, and I can tell they really mean it. That’s the good news about pictures that poorly depict our reality: we are generally the only ones who can see how bad they are. No one else is looking closely enough. They only care about the picture of themselves that you think is fine, but they think is monstrous. At the end of the day, a bad picture of you won’t change other people’s perceptions of what you look like. Don’t let it affect your own perception!

  40. Riana responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    Why is is so bad to be ugly, though? Yes, I’m saying ugly, because the word holds no horror for me. I’d rather be ugly than mean, for example. And I am perfectly comfortable in saying that people I like, or love, are ugly, because it is just not that bad. I can love someone or myself and still think their face is visually unappealing. Maybe because I’ve never found my own face particularly beautiful. It’s just a face.

  41. Kate responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    @Riana
    I wrote a piece about that: http://www.eatthedamncake.com/2012/09/03/the-extreme-importance-of-letting-yourself-be-occasionally-ugly/
    It’s a topic I’m really fond of :)
    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of social value placed on NOT being ugly, which is why it’s not at all irrational to worry about it. Although, I’m with you, it’s better not to mind.

  42. Julie responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    Oh my goodness yes!

    I just got engaged (to someone I met online, btw) and have photos of me in wedding dresses from when I went shopping (I’m living in a different country, away from home, and was able to get permission to take photos for my mom and sister!). I cannot describe how awful I feel about my body when I look at those photos. “Mom, I look like a house!” I whined. And she replied with “I’m sorry, but you do!!!” (*sigh* My mom’s honestly is another story…)

    Fortunately I still like me in the dress I chose. But some how it has become the lesser of the many evils, rather than the perfect piece of gloriousness I thought I was buying that day…

  43. Julie responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 7:13 pm #

    And then there are the times that I see a photo of me and I’m horrified and friends laugh and say “It’s perfect! It’s so you… they caught you mid-laugh!” and all I can think is ohmygoodness THAT’S what I look like when I laugh all the time!?!??!

  44. Morton responded on 08 Jan 2013 at 7:44 pm #

    Smiling for cameras is something that makes me cringe almost as much as viewing the result. Someone told me once, that if you don’t compete, you can’t lose.
    You had it right when you said that how you feel is what counts. Our relationships do it. I recall seeing a pic of you with a man (Bear?). Your face was turned to him and you were Glowing. I don’t miss cameras in my life. You were playing the right “game”, the day that pic was taken.

  45. Teddi responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 6:45 am #

    So often I have said to myself, “How did that nice young woman get in my head and pull out my thoughts and feelings?” Then I consider posting a comment, choose not to and move along.

    This time though, I have to post. That whole first part – through the italics – is exactly how I feel. (Sure, there are different body issues, but the idea is the same.) Any time I try to look a little better than my normal blah self, at some point, picture or not, I realize that it was ignorant of me to think I could look any better. And seeing a picture of myself only makes things worse. Who wants a permanent record of how awful they look? Certainly not me.

    On a more general note, thank you so much for your blog. You are a wonderful writer – honest, fresh, interesting and articulate. Every time there’s something new, I get very happy because I know it will be great. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  46. Erin Lee responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 7:38 am #

    I am so NOT photogenic, and I hate it. I always end up looking like a don’t have a neck, my head just slides right down into my shoulders. And my stomach is always was more pronounced (ahem, BIG) than I think it is.
    We got a disc with our wedding pictures on it, our good friends were our photographers. Some of the pictures of me were just ghastly, like, what were you THINKING giving this to me? I suppose it’s not their job to judge what I’ll think of myself in a picture, but it still hurts to see the bad ones. And then I -almost- felt guilty about deleting the evidence. I should feel bad about that, deleting pictures I feel like is deleting books – deleting history. But what if it’s something you don’t want to remember? It’s not like deleting the WWII. So if no one else would care and it would make me feel better.. heck yeah, DELETE, never to be seen again!

  47. sara responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 8:53 am #

    @Terri, you’re welcome! Just don’t forget to use sunscreen with a high spf even in the winter (the glare from the sun reflects off the snow, etc).. the uv rays can damage the scars even more!

  48. Gaye Pauroso responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 10:14 am #

    I appreciate what you’re saying, not so much about how I look in photos, but about what I sometimes wear. I mastered how to look pretty good in photos after being teased in elementary school for being overweight. When I lost the weight in middle school I knew I had to take advantage of it and do the most I could with what I had. So yes, I was the 14 year old who spent way too much time staring in a mirror practicing the perfect smile. ;) But I often see photos of myself from when I thought I was dressed so chicly that Stacey, from What Not To Wear, were she to see me, would surely shout out, “Bravo!” only to discover in a photo that that probably would not have been the case. (If you’re 5’2″ don’t wear a dropped waist dress. Lesson # 1,327 in my book of Fashion Don’ts) So I regularly see photos and think, “Am I the worst dressed person in America?” But that I recognize the errors gives me hope.

    But if you want to submit me for What Not To Wear, I’m good with that. :)

    Enjoyed the post.
    Thanks.
    Gaye

  49. Dani responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 11:09 am #

    I recently tried to take a picture of my reflection in the mirror with my phone (for kicks). It meant that I saw the same exact image on the camera display that I saw in the mirror, right next to each other. The mirror picture said “pretty”, the camera picture said “ugly!”. My gut reaction to it was “Holy Crikey, that camera distorts me!” I figured out that day that pictures of me look bad because the camera somehow warps them. I like my body image for not jumping to the other conclusion (the mirror is lying) first. The mirror doesn’t lie, your eyes are doing the seeing there. Other people don’t lie either, when they say that what their eyes are seeing is pretty. Of course the camera lies if anyone does, it doesn’t have a soul to see you with, only technical parts capturing light in an imperfect way, and that distorts. Try it yourself, holding your camera phone to the mirror, and comparing the two displays. Remember that you choose which one is what others see/what’s real.

  50. Aezy responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 11:23 am #

    Generally I hate my face in profile. This double chin appears from nowhere, my nose is weirdly pointy… Urgh. Most of the rest of the time I acknowledge that unless I am deliberately posing (and sometimes when I am), photos are not my friend. In fact if I’m on a night out I’m normally doing a goofy face or in the middle of talking in every single photo as a defense mechanism against bad photos!

    I definitely sympathise with the “what the hell? I thought I looked good!” phenomenon. Also, does anyone else get what me and my friends call “fat arm syndrome” in photos? You KNOW your arm cannot possibly be that huge but it seems to triple in size unless you perform some weird body builders pose…

  51. natasha responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    I’m definitely NOT photogenic. I despise my pictures. When I have a picture of me that I like, I cherish it forever. My husband is super photogenic and pictures of us together annoy the life out of me – he always looks great and I”m usually looking in the wrong place or just downright looking ugly.

    But I usually think I look decent in real life. I also met a lady who was hands down the most gorgeous woman I had met – beautiful on the outside and so vivacious, energetic, and sweet on the inside. Her pictures are meh. She looks okay – but the pictures don’t do her justice. I guess it’s kind of like when you take pictures of majestic nature and they are just kind of flat. It takes the real thing to translate the truth.

  52. Lasslisa responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    I think sometimes when people say, “it looks like you” (or, with a voice recording that makes you cringe, “it sounds like you”, the real message is not to be so hard on yourself. You don’t sit and listen to your friends’ voices trying to say which one is too hoarse or too breathy or too high or too low – one is Susan and one is Jessica and one is Mike and those are just their voices.

    And most people don’t sit and look through their friends’ photos trying to say how that friend looks in each and every picture. Maybe we think “oh, that’s that adorable face Julia makes!” – but if Julia saw that picture maybe she would hate it, all scrunched up and weird and what is she even doing with her eyes there??

    For that matter, have you ever seen how stupid pretty much anyone looks if you take a picture of them while they’re eating or talking? The picture is just one second, from one angle, and in reality there’s movement and personality that tells you so much more than the picture does.

  53. Kate responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    @Lasslisa
    I think I’m pretty much always talking when someone takes a picture. Or maybe I’m just always talking?

  54. Lila responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 8:27 pm #

    I have the same problem, and I work in TV! In the last couple of years of being a reporter, I’ve learnt that the camera can be very kind to you, or very very mean. I’m slowly beginning to learn which angles work for me and which don’t. My profile is absolutely terrible. Any framing that stops beneath my unusually giant (natural) boobs make me look the size of the house. I can definitely lose a few pounds, especially working in the industry that I do. But sometimes, from the right angle, with the right, highly skilled camera operator, I look really nice. So I keep remembering those times and willingly discard the times I look hideous. Doing anything else would turn me into one of those TV girls who obsesses with their appearance to the detriment of their personality. I am not one of those girls. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

  55. Kay responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    I am so incredibly unphotogenic, and often look high in pictures. I have learned an angle/expression that makes me look nice, or at least like I imagine I actually look, though. @Aezy I definitely have fat arm syndrome in pics. Sigh!!

  56. Lucy responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    Ooh this is a great post Kate! I started a new job and was assigned the desk of a woman who had a photo of herself and her husband on the desk. Anyway, in the photo she was stunning, a true beauty. I mean, I was really taken by how beautiful and effortless she looked. Then she returned to work after her leave….and she was….totally ordinary looking. It took me all day to convince myself that she was the same person in the photo – and then she introduced herself and talked about her husband and I realised it WAS her in the photo and I felt so sad for her – because she is at her most beautiful in a millisecond portal that is captured in a click but doesn’t translate in real life. I don’t know how this dichotomy can exist – but it can. Since then, all our work do’s etc, and she looks great in snaps, but when team members visit our office on secondment, they NEVER recognise her from our photo wall.

    So you can be a photo beauty but totally unimpressive in real life. And I have noticed that she is always taken aback because when people ‘meet’ her they are often in disbelief or shocked that its ‘her’…and I dont think she’s worked out why it keeps happening to her. How awful would that be? Meeting people who are looking around to see where the beautiful woman is??

    Photos freak me out.

  57. mel responded on 09 Jan 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    I’m pretty terrible in most photos. The difference is pretty weird. I often feel like I’m adequately thin, but then, I’m looking at my body from a higher angle, and of course that makes you appear thinner. I also know what angle I should be standing in order to get the look I want. 3/4 angle is slimming and makes my face look significantly less round.

    But photos come in all sorts of angles. Photos taken too low add weight, photos taken at face-height are slimming. And then there are shadows.

    My school pictures always looked ridiculous. It’s weird because it’s supposed to be accurate angles and perfect lighting, but my face. One half is always kind of calm, maybe even slack. The other half is dominant and cannot keep a secret. If I am trying not to smile, I have to turn my head because one side will ALWAYS SMILE. That side is uncontrollable. And so my elementary school pictures always look like I’m smirking.

  58. Sticky Penguin responded on 10 Jan 2013 at 4:39 am #

    OK, so this is about to be an insanely long and rambling comment. Sorry in advance. It’s also my first.
    I came across your blog a couple of months back, via one of your pieces on the Daily Life site, which I read, and wondered at, and had the same sort of feeling that I did when I first discovered that people outside my family sometimes Talked In Capital Letters. There are *others*. Oh my god. I thought it was just me.
    And then I started at the end, and worked back almost to the start, getting to know you in that weird online-don’t-really-actually-know-you-want-to-be-friends-but-I-feel-like-a-crazy-stalker-eep sort of a way. I love that you articulate ideas that hover at the edge of my mind like floaters in the corner of the eyes. I swear, some posts are more effective than therapy…
    So, the reason I finally got round to commenting, after all this quiet lurking, was this post. Which got me the day after a whole stack of work photos of me hit my desk. Where I was wearing a new black dress that made me feel the blessed relief of not-a-heffalump-ness, and ridiculously high very cute shoes. And I looked like a heffalump in a black dress and clonky shoes highlighting pale skin and legs not as toned as I’d like. And then I read this post today. And felt better.
    And, especially, I understood about the wedding pictures because I got married a bit over 2 years ago, when I was tiny and big-eyed and the happiest I’d ever been with my figure and just about to fall in a hole of eating-things-and-having-problems so that I only just looked at the pictures again a couple of weeks ago, now that I can be happy and a bit wistful about it, rather than howlingly disappointed.
    And I thought it might be the prod I needed to come out the woodword and say hi. And then I got to the end, and read about feeling like the occasional good pictures are lying and might not be trustworthy, and realised that’s exactly what I do with good photos of myself (and, arguably, compliments and positive outcomes of assorted varieties). So I really knew I should stop lurking and get on and post a comment on how much I love reading your writing.
    So, hi. Gee, took me a while to put all *that* out there in a great big heap. Hi, I’m Penguin, and I’m so glad I discovered your blog. Oof!

  59. Natasha responded on 10 Jan 2013 at 6:46 am #

    Kate, thank you so much for an excellent post and articulating my thoughts and feelings on this particular subject so well. Its also great to read so many comments from people who feel the same too.

    I am always surprised as how often I am taken aback by photos of myself – they don’t look like me at all! I recognise that I probably have a completely different image of what I look like in my head than exists in reality. I find it even more shocking because everyone around me seems to look exactly the same (read: totally gorgeous) in all their photos.

    I think I am going to continue to avoid photos and as I’ve been saying for years, I am much better looking in real life!

  60. Emmie responded on 10 Jan 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    I love the way I look in photographs. I think I am generally captured very well and I am often smiling. Sometimes I think I look better in pictures than I do in real life which also seemed to be the opinion of my first college roommate. We had exchanged a couple of letters and a picture before the start of our freshman year and when we actually met she looked at me and said “hmm you were pretty in your picture” I was crushed but eventually realized that not everyone held her low opinion of my looks. Anyway I love having my picture taken because it captures me in so many different states.

  61. Arabella Flynn responded on 10 Jan 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    When I was a teenager, I hated cameras. I fled from them like they were the harbingers of the zombie hordes. I occasionally threatened violence on people who kept trying to point them at me. Mercifully, digital and cell phone cameras were not yet in vogue — the worst I had to contend with were disposable 35mm cameras, and they have a finite capacity.

    Today I am paid stupid amounts of money to pose for photographs. Life is bizarre.

    The universe seems to dictate that, no matter who you are, maybe 1-2% of photos of you will look anything like you. Most people are in a few snapshots at a time, at events or on Facebook or whatever. If you want to post something from that party, then you have to choose what’s generally the best of a bad lot. Professionally, photographers take HUNDREDS of photos at a time — I regularly have digital proofs returned to me on a DVD, because CDs are too small. Out out a 300+ image shoot, five or six will look nice.

    I have absolutely no idea why or how I went from HSSSSSSSNOCAMERAS to photogenic. No one can tell me. It’s probably a combination of better photographers (school pictures are AWFUL) and that I just don’t care enough about cameras to fear them anymore.

  62. mamallama responded on 11 Jan 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Hey Kate,
    Another wonderful meditation on a vexatious subject! Thanks so much.

    I never used to like photos of me. I was always too, too skinny (food allergies & bad health), and my hair would ALWAYS flop in my face. At the last second. Even with hairspray. But my family wasn’t that into photography and I didn’t worry too much.

    Then, I met and married a guy from a family of photographers. They’re not pro, it’s more like they use photos as a substitute for personal relationships. If there’s a good picture, it was a good time. (Even if everyone was yelling most of the time.) And my dh had done like half the photos in his high school & college yearbooks, so Of Course, he wanted to photograph me all the time. My hair had grown out so I could pull it back. I was healthier & not so bony. But I still always hated photos of me!

    The only way I could stand to have all these pictures taken was to think about somehow projecting the love I felt for the man behind the camera and maybe even for my future self who would see the picture. And, I started to look better in the pictures.

    30 years later, I’m still happy to be married to this fellow, and happy to have 2 gorgeous home schooled teen daughters, one of whom takes a lot of great photos. I do not love every picture of me, but there are a few I really do love. I’ve also learned to tolerate most of them and ask for deletes on the ones I Can’t Stand. It’s nice to have a moment to appreciate the change, so Thanks!

  63. Eva responded on 11 Jan 2013 at 7:06 am #

    This piece totally captured my thoughts when I see photos of me. I just have to tell myself that how we see ourselves is sometimes so distorted! When you were describing yourself I got an image in my mind…when I saw every single picture of you I thought, “this chick is crazy…she looks nothing like how she describes herself!” In the pictures I see, you look, naturally beautiful, artsy, exotic, elegant…

  64. Naomi responded on 11 Jan 2013 at 10:59 pm #

    Kate, I’ve just discovered your blog via dailylife.com.au. And oh, I love it. I love your writing. And I love what you write about. As a writer myself, I am in awe of how brave and raw and honest you are. I just wanted to tell you that.

    Also! My husband recently took a photo of us just before going out for dinner. I thought I was looking hot-as; the camera, however, proved otherwise. I threw a tantrum and nearly didn’t go – the shame of it! Far too often, I let the way I look (or think I look) to stop me from having the experiences that make me feel good.

    I’m pleased to say, I went out for dinner, in the end.

  65. Michelle responded on 13 Jan 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    Thanks for the tip I will be def be trying Iaveda oils.

  66. Krissy responded on 13 Jan 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    I am totally unphotogenic!!! I have a big ‘ole Italian nose, I have an extra chin that just loves being photographed and always makes an appearance, very thin hair that just never seems to look good and it just seems hard to get a good picture. I don’t feel like I look that bad in real life, but it’s a hit to my self esteem to see yet another horrible photo. Do I really look like that?!?

    I love how positive you are in this post and came over from another post about buzzing your head. I would love to be that brave and think it’s amazing you did that. So glad I found your blog!

  67. zoe responded on 13 Jan 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    so i read this a few days ago. i was like, “yeah i guess that happens sometimes!” i’m strangely photogenic though. pictures usually don’t upset/confuse me. however yesterday my brother and i were taking pictures on our hike. he snapped a few on me and when i looked at them i was utterly abhorred. like, “is THAT what i really look like?” i gained a lot of weight about a year ago, and seeing my figure candidly is can definitely be a jarring event. yet, after the initial shock, i found myself unable to care, really. i looked happy.

    i like your dad’s attitude — that’s just what you look like! it is, in those seconds, the way your body folded. it is the way your face settled. we’ve been trained to like bodies at certain angles, faces in certain light. we’re so image obsessed in western, american culture that unpolished photos become ‘unflattering’ and worthy of embarrassment. sure, you may not look beautiful, traditionally speaking, but the image is still you. learning to love those snap shots as much as the ‘pretty’ ones is a big body-loving-self-loving step.

  68. Michele responded on 15 Jan 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Im at a conference right now and they are doing free head shots. Did one this morning. It was so bad I didn’t even take a copy and I’ve been close to tears ever since. Why do we do this to ourselves?

  69. LC responded on 16 Jan 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    I cannot find a single photo where I was ever cute…except for when I was a baby. I have come to accept that ‘photogenic’ and ‘beautiful’ or even ‘cute’ are adjectives used to describe other people. Not for me. I have, in fact, just given up entirely….and it feels liberating.

    I don’t expect to ever get a good photo ever now. It’s not like I go out of my way to sabotage my photos but every time I see one of me now, I have this expression on my face that says ‘I don’t like photos but I’m obligated to give you this fake half smile’.

  70. Links Lundi | Ruby Bastille responded on 21 Jan 2013 at 8:06 am #

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  71. Lisa responded on 21 Jan 2013 at 3:13 pm #

    I am so late on this one, but I just stumbled across your site. I cannot believe your subject, this is something that haunts me. I hate pictures of myself, i almost never recognize myself in pictures, and at a point thought I must be totally delusional until people that saw pictures of me before they met me, would say you dont looking anything like your picture. or you look much different in person, the rest of my family is very photogenic, i can relate, and like you i have chosen the mirror over the camera.

  72. deanna C responded on 21 Jan 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    When people take my picture, and look at the results, they always do a double take and say, “Wow. You look so good! You are really photogenic.” It makes me giggle just a little, because I am thinking, “I always knew I was beautiful. You just never really saw me”. I’ve felt this way since I was quite young.

    Even when my pictures are horrible, I don’t mind. That said, I will never ever post a bad photo of anyone. Ever. That is simply rude.

  73. Blanche responded on 21 Jan 2013 at 7:00 pm #

    Yes yes yes! It’s so true. The photo is often lying, particularly if it’s a point and shoot or a phone camera. These pitiful lenses give you a distorted view of yourself, warping everything at the edges (hence big arm syndrome- if you’re like me, it always occurs in group photos where you’ve been at the edge of the group or closest to the camera or leaning in to fit in the frame). They also give you a flat, single perspective when in reality the light bends around us and we’re viewed in stereo not by a single eye. Try it with an SLR- take a photo from something close up, then walk back an take it again with zooming in (Lens zoom not digital). The object will look slimmer or different in the zoomed image. As far as beauty goes, the way the face moves is often more remarkable anyway than what it was at a single point; I know an extremely photogenic girl who could model covers but in reality is lifeless and has weird expressions in conversation. Candid, unforced photos are best for people like us, as long as you’re lucky enough to have someone who takes them (and let’s you delete the 99.9% that you think look bad!). Thanks for the blog, it’s cathartic to know that others feel the same :)

  74. patti responded on 24 Jan 2013 at 9:14 am #

    Thank you for your post. Love your honesty. Remember you are honesty. Photographs can be demons they lie and worm themselves into our hearts. One day and become angels and help us fly the next. I am participating in a “one self portrait a day” series on flickr. Not sure I”ll make it through the year but it’s cheaper than therapy and I’ve met some amazing women. I recommend it, I think! Thank you again for your writing.

  75. Harriet responded on 25 Jan 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I just discovered your blog — actually, after googling “why do I think I’m ugly?”. And you’d think, based on that, that I’m maybe 15 years old, but add 40 years to that. I too am plunged into a depressive funk after I see a picture of myself. I have been trying to get over this by taking as many pictures and videos of myself playing (I am a musician) as I can stand. But still … I’m almost always shocked at how bulky and dorky I look, even when other people say, “You look fine in that picture!”

    What’s very odd is that I don’t remember feeling so much shame over this in the past; it seems to be connected to the explosion of images of everyone, everywhere, that never existed before we all started using the internet. Before, yes, there’d be a bad picture, but only a few people would see it. Even if it were in a magazine or newspaper, someone would have to physically hold the piece of paper it was on to be able to see it, and the printed images were somehow kinder and more flattering. Now, anyone with a computer and an internet connection can find your bad picture and see it if it’s been posted somewhere. They can zoom in on every detail if they so choose. Every gathering of people now seems to be followed by its pictorial documentation on the ‘net somewhere.

    Of course, being older has made me even less photogenic than I was back then, so maybe that’s part of it, too. Sigh.

    It’s a relief, for some reason, to know that this is such a common experience. It helps. So thanks.

  76. Leah responded on 27 Jan 2013 at 9:52 pm #

    I recently began trying new facial expressions in photos. I’ve noticed I prefer my smile with my lips together versus lips open showing teeth. I was surprised.

    Another thing that has helped me like how I look a little better is seasonal color analysis. Everyone looks better in some colors than others because of skin tone. A lot of the colors I used to wear made me look pale, dingy, and sometimes reddish. Just less attractive. Black is one such color, so I no longer buy black tops. That’s been tough. (Black pants are okay because they are not close to my face).

    Over the past two years I’ve been trying to buy clothes that compliment my skin tone. As my friend recommends, hold the shirt right below your face while you’re looking in the mirror. Smile (showing teeth). (Actually it took me a while to feel comfortable doing this in public). Look for colors that cause the whites of your eyes and your teeth to look bright and clear. If the whites of your eyes and your teeth look grayish, yellowish, or dull, don’t buy it.

  77. Brook responded on 29 Jan 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    I started taking self portraits because I hated photos of myself and refused to avoid pics of myself and especially me and my son because of it. So I started taking pictures of myself. and it worked. I am far less bothered by them now.

  78. Angela Banks responded on 31 Jan 2013 at 5:50 am #

    Hi kate!

    Why don’t you post more of your wedding photos! I was searching for these kinds of changes. By going through these comments, it seems like you had a different kind of an idea.

  79. Eat the Damn Cake » Get your body back!! (and sandals giveaway winner) responded on 08 Apr 2013 at 2:26 pm #

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  80. Katherine Gilmore responded on 10 Apr 2013 at 10:29 pm #

    Thank you!! I’m reminded of a favorite line from a song by Ani di Franco: “It took me too long to realize that I don’t take good pictures ’cause I have the kind of beauty that moves”.

  81. Stop Telling Me I Should Focus on Getting My Old Body Back | Photography Lighting Tips responded on 15 Apr 2013 at 6:30 pm #

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  82. SamiJ responded on 09 May 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    I have a similar problem with the mirror at work. Home mirror says I look fine, get to work, work mirror not as encouraging. But when I return home 8hours later, home mirror still says looking good. Why is work mirror such a hater?

  83. SamiJ responded on 09 May 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    a couple years ago i read a study that had a college student join a group of peers, wearing a Barry Mantilow shirt (and not ironically). Then the student left the group, and the group was asked their impressions of the student. when the student was instructed to be outgoing and friendly, the group didn’t notice the shirt. When the student was instructed to act self conscious &shy, the shirt was noticed. Moral – you are more than your looks, and if you feel less than pretty, let your beautiful self show-cause that’s what they’ll remember.

  84. Stop Telling Me I Should Focus on Getting My Old Body Back | Pregnancy Guide responded on 24 Aug 2013 at 9:46 pm #

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