Category Archives: looks

flattery gets you everywhere else but here

This one goes out to those two people who voted that they wanted to see only my most unflattering wedding photos. Please accept my apologies for making you wait so long for the horror.

Oh. Did I say horror? I guess that could make sense. Because I am about to open up a bag full of a lot of potentially squicky, uncomfortable stuff. The contents of this bag include several deep-seated insecurities with regard to various body parts, a bunch of truths and lies about cameras, what’s left of your self-confidence, a general sense of mortification, and the struggle to mentally connect the dots between your still image on screen or paper with the live one you see in the mirror every day: Do I really look like that? Is that even the same person?

So I didn’t mean horror, after all. I meant hilarity.

How else can you react to pictures of yourself that aren’t really very good? I suppose you can cry about them, or send them through the paper shredder, or put your wedding dress back on and sit in the middle of the living room floor carefully cutting models out of bridal magazines and pasting them over your own image while alternately guzzling a bottle of raspberry-flavored vodka and cackling maniacally to yourself. Because wedding photos, like everything else wedding-related, seem to carry a special weight. This weight can make it harder to come to grips with bad photos of you taken at your wedding, because their very existence seems to capitalize, boldface, and underline all the fears you had locked away about your looks.

Which happened, of course, the very first time I started clicking through my various wedding pictures. It was so weird to see how simply moving from angle to angle — frame to frame — could induce a fun house effect on my physique. Fifteen pounds were gained, then lost again. Arms transformed from sleek strands of linguini to lumpy sausages. Chins receded and disappeared into necks, only to tentatively protrude again.

I was initially embarrassed, but then a strange thing happened. I started to giggle at my ridiculous-looking self.

We all have our own individual “problem areas,” of course. My most despised ones are my chin and my upper arms. There is just no way around it: my face is rectangular, and kind of masculine. I have a weak chin that’s made even more so by my tendency to clench my teeth together very hard. Add to that the fact that I lost some weight in high school everywhere but my upper arms, and since then no amount of toning exercises can eliminate the flab.  These were the genetics I was dealt. There is no changing them. At some point, I have to be okay with that.

Have to be.

Look, I am not insinuating that in these photos I resemble some kind of wretched, hideous, bloated, snaggle-toothed, cross-eyed, deformed, demonic, and malodorous beast not even a mother could love. I am not suggesting that upon reading this you should rush to the comment form and attempt to convince me that NO, I actually look GREAT, omigod, what ru even talking about ur crazy gorgeous lol.

What I am hoping is that you will laugh, too.

Because, damn. Some of them are bad.

And I am also hoping that after laughing you will feel a little bit better, because we all look bad sometimes, don’t we? That doesn’t mean we’re inherently ugly. It means that… oh, who the fuck knows what it means, except that we’re all in this together.

We might as well have some fun, right?

Ah. Oh. This gets things off on the right foot. Excellent job with the mushy, dimply neck. For my next trick, I will grow another chin.

This. This is a face I’d heretofore been unaware of making. But apparently I do make it, and quite frequently, too, judging from the number of times it appears in photos taken during the wedding. Look, I understand that if it’s inherently me, I can’t really knock it, but come on. It’s like I’m grinning, but I’m also grimacing. I am baring my teeth at you: rrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Me bride. Ha ha! BRING BRIDE DRINK! NOW! Ha ha ha! RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. Arr.

Uh. Huh. Hmm. Uhhhhhh… duh? Ha ha. Huh. Heh.

“The crowd gasped, but by then it was already too late. The bride had contracted a serious case of Sausage Arm. For a few long, horrible moments, the situation looked grim. Then Aunt Hilda suddenly remembered the jar of sauerkraut in her purse. If there was only a way they could dig up some mustard, well. Then they could turn this travesty into a party.”

Guess what I look like in profile? I look like I have no jawline. Seriously. I look at photos of celebrities, and it seems like the space between their chins and their necks stretches on for miles, providing actual definition to their faces. Sort of like this:

The photoshopped image above will always be what I wish I looked like from the side. But no. No, my destiny will be to fulfill my womanly duties by bearing a bunch of children with weak chins and and slack jowls. They will surely thank me later for the fine genetic pool from whence they sprang.

Oh, but it gets better as the evening progresses.

What fine, unfocused, greasy-faced specimen is this?

Surely one who should open her mouth even further.

Seriously, folks. Back away from these goods. Or you might get hurt.

Ouch.

And now I present to you: the dance of the giant velociraptors.

Won’t you join me? No seriously, join me or die.

Further evidence to support the fact that all of my photographs should be taken from below, and with flash.

Listen, I hope you’ve enjoyed our time together here today. Go forth, all ye engaged, and know that there will be wedding pictures of you that you will never want anyone to ever, ever look at. Unless, of course, you choose to post them on your blog for all the internet to see.

Hooray!

[this post will self-destruct in 5… 4… 3… 2…]

UPDATE: A number of kind souls have so far pointed out that, whatever, I look fine in these pictures. So then I realized: you know all those times you’ve been shown a photograph of yourself, and you say, “EW,” and the other person is like, “HUH?” Yeah. I think that’s what is happening here. Those photographs where we cringe and think we look our worst actually appear to others as … normal. Or something. This is kind of disturbing, because either a) each of us is more awful-looking than we actually think we are, or b) society has left us all terribly, horribly warped. I’ll let you decide which is right (hint: it is B).

But seriously, you guys. I hardly look attractive in these things. I don’t know where you get these insane ideas.

worry

New developments! I have them. Witness what’s transpired in the last few days:

  1. My face has bloomed an awesome new connect-the-dots pattern.*
  2. I have valiantly battled Getting Sick. I pulled out all my best moves, like sleeping and vitamins. And yet, even after a long holiday weekend, Getting Sick is finally winning. Bah!
  3. My pharmacy failed to inform me — even though I asked how many refills I had left the last time I went in — that a key prescription was expiring. Thanks, pharmacy! I love you, too. I especially appreciate that afternoon spent feeling like I was going to chuck my lunch from the stress of OH MY GOD I NEED MY PRESCRIPTION IT IS RIGHT THERE BEHIND THE COUNTER BUT YOU WON’T GIVE IT TO ME I HATE EVERYTHING.
  4. Forget Santa Cruz; I’m the new Mystery Spot!** The cornea of my right eye developed localized redness. It doesn’t hurt, but Visine didn’t clear it up. I switched from contacts to wearing glasses, which is not easy on the ol’ self esteem — despite the hip frames I still associate glasses with being called a nerd in 5th grade, SORRY — and I’m dousing my eye with saline solution a few times a day. And keeping my fingers crossed. So far it hasn’t gone away. Hooray!
  5. I am bloated. ‘Nuff said.
  6. The weather. It sucks. The fog burns off late, and rolls back in early. This is so not September weather here.

I don’t know, man. I am reluctant to admit that this stuff is bothering me, but… it is. The acne, bloating, and red-eye is a blow to my vanity. The other stuff — well, all of it, really — is a blow to my emotional system, which is not really holding up very nicely of late. No, I’m not freaking out. This isn’t a panic-panic-run-around-screaming post. I am just weary. I am trying. Trying to take care of myself; trying to stay on top of this neverending wedding to-do list. I have to rest, but I can’t rest. In this game of inches, I am walking a thin line between a rock and a hard place while trying to keep all my balls*** in the air. Yes! I am a mixed metaphor lover’s wet dream.

I know there should be a moral to this story, and I know it should go like this: “What does it matter if I have red-eye on my wedding day? I will still be married.” This is an astute observation. I will indeed be married on my wedding day, regardless of whether my face resembles a road atlas, or whether I’m retaining water, or whether the sun is obliterated by low-lying clouds. But I don’t particularly want any of those things to happen. In fact, I am beginning to get the impression that if any of these things do happen — if, for example, my right eye still looks like I spent the afternoon hotboxing a ’71 Chevelle — I am going to feel dangerously close to throwing a fit due to the unfairness of it all. I tried to take care of myself, you guys! I tried! So hard! Shouldn’t I get an A for effort? Shouldn’t I get a one-day pass for all health-, beauty-, and weather-related items? SHOULDN’T I????

Ahem. Wow. Bridal stereotype much?

All is not lost. There are still 11 days until the wedding. It’s entirely feasible that my ailments, real or imagined, will be cleared up by then. Then again, maybe not. I have to be prepared for that possibility. I thought I was prepared, but I guess I wasn’t.

The point of all of this, friends, is that the wedding zen. It eludes me. I’m sorry. I don’t have it. I can’t find it. I am not freaking out, but I am not zen-tastic. I am just here. A little worse for wear, but still breathing. And maybe that’s good enough?

It better be.

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* I see a pony! Or maybe a deformed marshmallow!

** For those of you who do not live in this strange bubble called California, I present to you, The Mystery Spot.

*** YOU GUYS I SAID BALLS!!!!!!11!

can’t get no satisfaction

The voice. It comes every day, all day.

You should go on a diet, it informs me. You should go on a diet before the wedding.

Whatever. I’m fine the way I am.

No, you’re not, it insists. This voice is a total jerk. You’ve been wanting to take off five or ten pounds for a couple of years now. And you know you want to look good for the wedding. So you pretty much have to start dieting, like, right now.

No! Stop tying this into wedding guilt. I don’t want to go on a diet! I hate you.

Don’t hate the playa, hate the game, says another voice.

Who the hell are you?

I’m that part of your brain that ties everything anyone says into rap and hip-hop references! I’m the reason why, whenever someone says the word “word,” you are required by federal law to chime in with “…to your moms, I came to drop bombs, I got more rhymes than the bible’s got psalms.”

Oh. You can stay, then. But Diet Obsession over there has got to go.

“I LIKE POPSICLES!” another voice shrieks.

********

As a kid, I was pretty blissfully ignorant about my looks. Then, when I was 14, my grandmother got me a subscription to YM magazine. Do you remember YM? As far as I can tell, its sole purpose on this earth was to provide hair tips* and quizzes about which type of boy you liked, all while absolutely destroying the last remaining shred of your self-esteem. I remember this one article in particular casually mentioned that a “normal” girl should weigh 120 pounds. I realized I didn’t know my weight, so I went into my parents’ bathroom and stepped on the scale.

The scale read 157.

You know the rest of this story cold. I have since spent half my life obsessing over my body. The long and winding road back to relative stability has involved numerous unhealthy attitudes, a close brush with an eating disorder, questionable diet choices, and more guilt than the Vatican could produce in 100 years.

I am now in the best shape I’ve ever been, both mentally and physically. My confidence is at a new peak. I exercise willingly every day. In fact, I make it a priority, because it makes me feel better. I focus on eating organic and hormone-free veggies, fruits, and proteins while limiting processed foods, but I don’t deny myself anything — if I have a hankering for macaroni and cheese, I make a goddamn box of macaroni and cheese. I don’t even weigh myself anymore, because I know a scale will send me ricocheting back into negativity. I have learned so much. I am truly living well.

But I’m still not totally happy.

The upcoming wedding “deadline” has galvanized me. I’m not satisfied with how I look right now, but I’m tired of all those years of pushing myself to trim down. At this point of my life, the very word “diet” makes me feel like stabbing someone. My discomfort with the whole “it’s for the wedding!” subtext aside, I want to look good on my wedding day. But even more importantly, I want to feel good. I want to feel good about myself not just on my wedding day, but every day. Right now I’m not sure how to do that. And I’m self-assured enough now to know that I have the capacity to love myself the way I am, but the self-doubt keeps gnawing at the back of my mind.

So I tell myself, look. Either woman up and dedicate yourself to your weight loss goal, or just quit worrying about it and find peace with yourself the way you are. But dude. If it was that easy to just be happy with myself, I would have done that at 14. Even though I’d love to, I can’t simply erase those thoughts. So instead, the matter just keeps hanging over my head, like Bruno over Eminem at the MTV Music Awards.**

And that damn voice just keeps nagging on.

Have you felt pressure, either from yourself or others, to lose weight in time for the wedding? What did you ultimately do? And most importantly, what do the voices in your head say to you?***

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* These hair tips did me absolutely no good. The only “style” I knew how to do in those days was brush my bangs over and sweep them up high, then shellac them in place with half a bottle of Rave hairspray until my hair was this frozen crest riding above my forehead. Hawt.

** Yeeeouch. That was a bad one. Sorry, guys.

*** I am assuming that you, too, have voices. Right? RIGHT???