Those who are the self-loathing breed like me feel a certain apprehension when someone decides to break out the camera and take a few shots while you’re minding your own business at a gathering. Don’t let the commissioned oil painting of me fool you, I don’t like pictures of me. I’m not the photogenic type. Perhaps you are. Whenever I see a picture of me, I think, well, that’s a terrible shot of me. So is this one. That’s a bad angle, my right side’s better. Eventually I came to the conclusion that it’s not the poorly shot photos of me that are making me look weird, it’s simply me seeing myself for what I truly look like.
I recently read in Parade Magazine’s “Ask Marilyn” section the reason why you think you look strange in photographs. The answer goes as follows…
“Because you’re photographed face looks backwards to you. What you see in a mirror is your image reversed from left to right, and you’re familiar with that look. A photo, however, shows you what others see. When you see your face that way, it looks strange to you—you notice every asymmetry and imperfection.”
There’s a photo of me taken just this last summer at my young niece’s birthday party. The photo is of me standing alone on my parent’s porch, casually smiling at the camera. I’m wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt that is adorned with a pink Hawaiian lei. I’ll be the first to admit that I drop a little too much weight in the summer, but upon seeing this photo of myself, I realized how gaunt and skeletal I get. I looked like if heroin-addicted Macaulay Culkin had a child with the corpse of Amy Winehouse.
So what became of this unflattering photo? My mother decided to feature it on her refrigerator of course. Why? I don’t know. The photo elicits gasps. I look like I’m terminally ill. My mother might as well make up a back story to explain the chilling photo. She could tell people, “This is a picture of my youngest child, Noah, six weeks before he was claimed by AIDs. Look at his serene smile. He was stoic to the end. The newspaper was kind enough to print ‘passed from a long illness’… our priest thought it would be best.
I don’t get down on my looks. It’s not like I’m some Quasimodo. The fine residents of Cedar Falls aren’t chasing me through the streets with torches and pitchforks. And, I realize that I’m my own worst critic. I figure that I fall somewhere in the middle of the attractiveness bell curve. I, like most people, are what I refer to as “normies”. We’re not turning any heads or making any memorable impression on the strangers we encounter in our day-to-day lives. We’re simply forgettable drops in a sea of faces.
I’m just thankful that I don’t look like Steve Buscemi. Though, Steve Buscemi is so strange looking that he actually exceeds ugly and crosses into “eccentrically alluring” territory. Like a pug, Steve Buschemi is so disfigured that he is strangely alluring to many women.
It’s funny, while I was referencing Steve Buscemi as being ugly, I Googled his name to find some pictures to use and found a shot where he looks remarkably like yours truly.
Want to know how messed up I am? I think so little of myself that if a pretty woman finds me attractive, I’m completely confounded. I’m not talking about being modest or self-effacing like, “Who? Me? Get out!” *wink* No, I’m talking about finding the concept of an attractive person of the opposite sex being attracted to me as being illogical. I even go as far to wonder if there is something wrong with that woman. If perhaps she has some sort of gross deformity that is covered by her clothing. I assume that there has to be a catch. It’s like seeing a used Mercedes GL at a dealership for $9,999. You’d be skeptical right? You’d think things like, it must have like a million miles on it. Or, it probably burns oil like a Kawaiti refinery.
After realizing that there is nothing at all physically wrong with her, I’ll begin to wonder if her self-esteem is disastrously low. Perhaps she’s going through some sort of depression. I will then go as far as to think less of her for being attracted to me!
That’s the ridiculous logic I can’t help but follow! If a woman suddenly seems obtainable, I’ll view her in an unflattering light. I’ll rapidly find her less attractive and think, “Hmm, she finds me desirable? I guess I thought she was better than that.”
I’ve been doing some thinking and I figure the only way to combat these negative inklings is to find a woman who will hold me in a masochistic-like regard, and in doing so, this woman can then remain elevated in my mind by treating me like dried dog shit that’s trapped between the treads of her running shoes. That way I will continue to adore her because she’ll make me feel undeserving of her affections. Makes sense, right? Well, it’s either that or seek therapy.
I wish I was one of the beautiful people. I don’t mean simply being cute. No, I’m talking about jaw-dropping gorgeous. I’d even go as far to say that I’d sooner like to be a gorgeous woman than a gorgeous man. Gorgeous women have a smoother road to travel in life, and receive more stuff because their looks than gorgeous men. And on top of that, if you’re a gorgeous woman, the world is your singles bar and everyone in it a potential suitor. If I were a gorgeous woman I’d be a HUGE whore…just a gigantic lesbian whore. No lie.
But, gorgeous women aren’t a slow burn by any means. Twenty years tops is all you get, gorgeous women. It starts when you’re fifteen and the mustachioed manager at the deli counter gives you a gratis half-pound of sliced parmesan to go with your black forest ham. You smile and simply think he’s a nice fellow. On your nineteenth birthday, your boyfriend—who’s five years your senior and works as a landscaper while he takes night classes to become a police officer—will fear that you will leave him. In a desperate attempt to keep you, he’ll propose to you at Red Lobster. You’ll accept and will envision your life with the man that you love. After some thought you’ll think that it’ll be too ordinary of a life for a woman of your rare beauty. You’ll break up with him and pawn the engagement ring he maxed out his credit card for. After random hook-ups while in cosmetology school, you’ll have a series of serious boyfriends who will pay for your car insurance, cell phone bill, and rent. You’ll have a brief modeling career and will even be featured in ads for Buckle (only once, and on the online catalogue only, but you leave that part out).
By the time you reach your late twenties, you’ll feel the need to settle down. You’ll do that settling with a middle-aged investment banker who is average in the looks department, but he lives in a million dollar house and goes on exotic vacations. He’ll finance your designer purse shop downtown. The store never makes a dime, but it gets you out of the house for four hours a day (On weekdays only). After six years you’ll notice his adoration for his trophy wife fading. His lingering stares will be shorter and the compliments will be fewer and far between. You’ll be served with divorce papers by your family friend/family lawyer just before your thirty-fifth birthday. Your soon-to-be ex has set his gaze on the young mocha-skinned receptionist…and she was sooo nice to you at the office party. After the divorce is finalized, the lopsided prenup leaves you with a monthly stipend that puts you up in a modest two-bedroom apartment in what you consider the “seedy” part of town. While you’re picking up the pieces of your life, your old friends and acquaintances are happily raising their children in their ranch homes…living the “ordinary” life you thought was beneath you.
Twenty years, gorgeous girls, that’s all you get.
Now as for gorgeous guys, sure you’re not getting your rent paid and an Escalade to drive, but you on the other hand will be even more gorgeous when you turn thirty-five. And, you’ll be handsome and distinguished up until the end. I’m convinced that Cary Grant’s death rattle came just after he rattled the bones of some prime hospital orderly.