Thursday, November 18, 2010


This is something that has been bothering me for a long, long time.

When I look at pictures of me, I don't see me. I see this:


I don't know if I'm really that horrible-looking, or if I'm really unphotogenic, but that is not what I see in the mirror. In fact, what I think I see in the mirror is usually more like this:

Do you see the disparity?

Now, here's what bothers me:

Friend: Ooh, and here's a picture of you I took at the zoo last week!
Me: I didn't know our zoo had double-chinned ogres.
Friend: No, that's YOU!
Me: Oh my. Do I really look like that?
Friend: Oh, shut up. You look fine in this picture.
Me: Oh my. Do I really look like that?
Friend: It's really not that bad!
Friend: Oh, look! Here's a baboon's behind.
Me: ...
Friend: Oh, nevermind. That's you again.

I don't expect my friends to cater to my vanity. But PLEASE stop insisting that these awful pictures of me look like me. When you tell me I look fine in a picture, I don't hear, "You look fine." I hear, "Yes, you do look like a double-chinned ogre."

If you're trying to reassure me, reassure me. Say, "Oh heavens no. You don't photograph well. You look much better in person." Or don't say anything. But don't tell me this snapshot of ugly "isn't that bad." Because I have two eyeballs (and up-to-date glasses). I can see that it is that bad.

If it were just my fragile ego, don't you think I'd see this


in the mirror, too? But I don't! I see Marita Covarrubias. If anything, my ego needs a kick to the groin.

So, here are our choices:

1. I am really ugly, and my vision goes haywire every time I step in front of a mirror.
2. I am not ugly, and my vision goes haywire every time I see a picture of myself.
3. I am somewhere in between, and the camera adds 20 pounds, a bulbous nose, shiny skin, frizzy hair, giant teeth, thin lips, a wide face, and squinty eyes.

Which would you prefer to hear? Huh? Next time a friend doesn't like a picture of herself, and you actually think it's a bad picture, say so. Don't tell her over and over that it looks just like her! and it's beautiful! Because she will either conclude that your vision makes it illegal for you to operate a motor vehicle and that she truly is hideous, or that you are a liar and that she truly is hideous.

I can guarantee she's not going to conclude that the thing leering at her from the photograph is beautiful.

PS: If she really is that ugly, it's best to just not share any photographs with her. Unless you think her ego needs a kick to the groin.


  1. Ha! I have that same problem with pictures of me. My brother got all the photogenic genes. I think people hear me say something about terrible pictures, and assume that it means I hate myself and think I'm some kind of ogre, and are compelled to reassure me. Nope, I just know I'm not photogenic, that's all! (Although, I'll accept that I might be slightly more critical of my photos than others are). It's part of why I'm so concerned about finding a good wedding photographer, even though we're having a really simple wedding.

  2. At last! Someone who understands! If I ever get to meet you in person, I will be sure to comment on your loveliness in comparison to your wretched pictures.

    (not having met you, I don't think the pictures I've seen of you are bad, but I totally believe that you are even lovelier in person)

  3. "(not having met you, I don't think the pictures I've seen of you are bad, but I totally believe that you are even lovelier in person)"

    That's because I'm very particular about which ones I post (unless it's a picture that I really need to share, like showing off possible wedding dresses even though I'm making weirdo faces. I could say the same for you, though. I do think it's possible to be unphotogenic AND overly critical of our own photos.

  4. Very true. It's definitely a little of both for me.

  5. Oh, hello, the other two mes. I didn't know you were out there. I just cannot take a good picture to save my soul(there's the most horrible picture of me mid-laugh in my BF's parents' house. I may have to break in and destroy it). I also look like I have this huge roll of fat around the lower half of my neck in every.single.picture.

    Give me a mirror though and I'll love it :).

  6. I have this problem, too. I think some of it is that there are just certain ways I can stand/pose that really look kind of horrendously awful, and things the camera can do to my skin (flash reflecting off my ghostly white skin, anyone?) that are very legitimately unflattering.

    Some of it, though, is that there are certain things about myself that I genuinely do not like. My teeth and gums, for instance. I feel like I have giant horsey gums with teeth that are perhaps smaller than average. Also a little crooked. So when I look at a picture of myself when I'm smiling, all I can see are GUMS and crooked small teeth. I'm pretty sure that's not what the rest of the world sees, but it's like a train wreck for me. I just can't look away.

    So, that's probably what Rainha is talking about, with the being unphotogenic and also too critical. :)

  7. Bit late, but: hello, other mes /wave

    I met an honest person once! I mentioned to a bunch of coworkers that I didn't like pictures of myself and four people tried to convince me that I had low self-esteem (I do, but that was beside the point :P). Another person then spoke up and said: "Well tbh, some people just don't photograph well and SamITS is one of them."

    I really, REALLY appreciated he said that. :)

  8. Hee. I was having a very similar conversation with a friend the other day. I caught myself almost doing the thing I hate SO MUCH. Instead I said she was pretty in her pictures, but definitely better-looking in person. She was pretty happy to hear that. So maybe I'm not so rare after all. :)