At a family gathering the day after Christmas, my aunt Shirley mentioned seeing a picture of David and me with our tablemates on a recent cruise. I groaned and explained that I thought my picture was bad but didn’t acknowledge the fact on Facebook because I was afraid it would only draw more attention to the bad photo and look like I was trolling for compliments.
“Well… you are much prettier than that picture,” she said. It’s a refrain I often hear about my photos. I can only hope it’s true.
Most of my pictures are terrible, which probably explains why I allow so few to be taken. The bad cruise photo came on the heels of the American Cancer Society Hope Gala, which spawned a bevy of unflattering shots. What’s sad is I really tried at the Hope Gala. As honoree, I knew I couldn’t dodge photos. Instead, I put a lot of thought into the dress I wore and even had someone else do my hair and makeup hoping it would improve the odds for decent pictures. Every time I’d pose for a shot all I could think was, Don’t mess this up! The strategy was an epic fail. There are pictures to prove it.
The night of the family gathering, several of my female relatives and I sat around the table chatting. Our discussion became quite lively when I brought up the subject of bad photos. The volume grew louder when we broached the subject of hating to see bad pictures of ourselves on Facebook.
“I know!” said Tracy. “Dean took a horrible family picture the other night and had it on Facebook before we even got home.”
Dean’s wife, Lisha, agreed. “My smile looked weird in that picture. I was trying to follow my family’s advice not to my smile too big because it makes the veins in my neck pop out.”
“I was trying to remember how I’m supposed to hold my neck up and stand sideways while tilting my leg,” countered Tracy.
“And don’t forgot about the arms,” added Lisha with gusto. “You can’t hold them too close to your body or they look huge!”
I made a mental checklist of all the things I was doing wrong while the others chimed in with their comments. We then laughed at ourselves for being a bit narcissistic. The truth is, I feel a little self-absorbed writing this post, but I can’t get that conversation out of my head.
I keep thinking about the fact that Tracy, Lisha and the others who so passionately criticized their photos are attractive women, and most of the pictures I see of them are pretty good.
About how selfies and Facebook and cameras on our phones are making us even more likely to focus on ourselves and our looks, which is not a good thing.
About how focusing on not making a mistake only makes it more likely you will make a mistake.
About the fact that pictures and Facebook don’t always match up with reality.
And the truth that, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
In light of all this thinking, I’m going to make a concerted effort to steer clear of the comparison trap – except to compare myself to what God would have me to be – and be thankful for my many blessings.
And when you see a bad picture of me, just say, “Bless her heart,” and move on.
In case you’re wondering about my health, I’ll close with a quick update. My December break from the chemo pills didn’t do as much good as I had hoped, but it did give my feet time to heal a bit. Following a New Year’s infusion and starting back on chemo pills, I ended up with a migraine on two separate occasions, so I’m inclined to think I’m better off staying the course with the meds unless I can stop them completely. Overall, I’m doing just fine and ready to face the challenge of long-term treatment.
As always, I appreciate your prayers and concerns.