Strike a Pose!

A friend recently commented on how great-looking the people we went to high school with still are, as evidenced by their facebook photos, and she noted that our parents just looked old in their 40's. That made me smile.

There's a big difference between how we viewed our parents back then and how we view one another now. Our parents didn't have access to social networking sites like facebook, nor could they crop their photographs just so or miraculously rub out a wrinkle or two or twenty. Remember the days of snap and shoot and you got what you got when it came to taking pictures? Sure you do. It wasn't that long ago.

Film and developing cost too much back then for anyone but a professional photographer to take 20 pictures, aiming for the perfect shot. With the advent of digital photography, we can click away until we have exactly the shot we want. Heck, they even make duel-view cameras now where you can take a photo of yourself and see what it will look like before you snap the picture. (See the Samsung DualView Digital camera above).

So, we have social network sites and the carefully chosen photos that present us in the best possible light at the most flattering angle with the bits we're not proud of cropped out. Of course we look fantastic!

I remember when celebrity magazines like People first started posting unedited pictures of celebrities next to the photos that appeared in magazines and people were appalled. Suddenly, it seemed like we were all being fed lies. The celebrities weren't that gorgeous that perpetually young and firm and stunning. They were just regular people with good bone structure.

I'm one of those people with good bones, I think. In the right light at the right angle, snap a photo and I'll look great. Catch me on any given day and not so much; I'll be looking like the older, over-weight version of the me you've seen on facebook, maybe even her mother! I'm laughing but it's true, damn it all to hell!

My oldest son forwarded a text of a picture a friend shot of me the other day and to say that I cringed when I saw it would be a gross understatement. Later in the day I told him that I felt like a poser because of the pictures I post of myself on facebook. He was genuinely surprised and protested, "You're not a poser! Those are legitimate, recent pictures of you." He truly didn't understand my feeling of chagrin. In his world, in his generation, it's de rigeur to post the kind of photos that leave many people of my generation feeling like posers.

He laughed and mimicked the angles preferred by girls, the camera out and up, shooting down or better yet, directly overhead. I barked out a laugh. Guilty times a million I am! Try to take a picture of me when I'm standing up and you're sitting down and I might just grab you by the throat. Don't do it. :)

Anyway, I'm trying to process what it all means about us as a society. Facebook is far more than a social networking site, a convenient means by which to stay in touch, it's also a place where we can present the best of ourselves and engage a little fantasy. I can hear the voices raised in protest, "I don't do that, Kate!" Protest all you want, I won't believe you. You see, I've seen the photos you post and I've also seen you at the supermarket, just like you've seen me. Gotcha!

I'm not sure that there's anything wrong with it. We've simply joined the leagues in a lesser way of celebrities that populate our television screens. We're putting our best face forward, letting people peek in at us like paparazzi, only they're expressly forbidden to post unapproved pictures of us on their pages or, God forbid, tag us!

I think we're all guilty to varying degrees and in different ways because we all have our different vanities and insecurities. Some folks avoid posting recent pictures at all and try to pass-off 20-year old photos as recent shots, which is something I saw quite a lot of on myspace. Most of us just smiled and let it pass. Sure you were wearing high waisted, pleated jeans just two years ago, beating teens on the fashion beat, and you had that great big 1980's hair in 2008. Riiight.

When I first started blogging I used a recent picture that had been touched-up by a photographer I knew. It was this great picture of me looking Bohemian and lovely. I loved being her even though I knew she wasn't really me, no more so than the magazine covers we see accurately portray celebrities. Later, I started showing untouched pictures. I remember the first time. It was painful because it meant letting go of the dream of that beautifully air-brushed me. It sounds silly and even feels silly NOW, but it's true.

I still control the pictures I show, just as most of you do, albeit I favor pictures of my feet and knees. :) What I'm learning is that it doesn't really matter. We post the pictures for ourselves, not for others. In some ways, I think it keeps us young inside, reminds us of who we are because the mirror doesn't always reflect that. My mirror shows someone who's older than I am, while those carefully chosen pictures serve as a reminder of who I am on the inside. The spirit of me is young and lovely.

So, do we look better than our parents did? I don't think so. We just have a means by which to project the inner-us in ways that they couldn't. I have seen pictures of my great-grandparents sternly glaring into the camera and felt chilled. Were they that cold and hard? Were they that unhappy? It's not likely. Technology simply required that they be still and smiles are fleeting, changing things. It's much easier to hold a stern face. I wonder how they would have felt had they been able to hold a camera out front and high up and smile a wicked or mischievous smile. Well, the idea makes *me* smile. I'd love to have seen my Grandma Grace strike a pose!

©Just Kate, May 2010

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin