“Why I don’t want to look pretty”
This is vacation week in the Yarbrough household, and so far, I’ve had a splendid time catching up on sleep, playing outdoors, (watching Christopher) cook delicious and nutritious homemade meals and binge-watching Chris and I’s favorite Netflix TV shows. Recently (12 days ago, to be specific), I picked an old hobby back up — skateboarding, and on Tuesday, I spent 4 hours cruising across smooth, gray concrete at the new skate park in Tuscaloosa, Alabama while Christopher stood nearby, taking pictures and dutifully on-call for any physical injuries. It was.. the perfect excursion. Later that afternoon, once we had settled back in at home and I had showered and slipped into my comfy fox PJ’s + bunny slippers, I uploaded the shots onto my computer and eagerly picked out my new profile pic for Facebook: an action shot of me skating down a slab of concrete (featured above). Not a flattering or girly pic, by any means, but a damn cool one. Just as I posted the update on my profile, a thought hit me; did I ever really upload “pretty” profile pictures?
I took a quick glance through Facebook’s handy “Profile Pictures” album and very quickly realized that… no. I never upload “pretty” profile pictures. And that (to me) is actually, totally awesome.
Everyone’s different; you have the faithful selfie crowd who will post daily pic updates of themselves and who change their profile pictures once every week or two, and then, at the other end of the spectrum, you have who Chris and I refer to as the “lurkers” — the Facebookers who post a status or comment once or twice annually (to announce that they’ve just had a child or are looking to sell an ATV that’s in like new condition!) and who update their profile picture once every 3-10 years or so. I seem to fall somewhere in the middle of these extremes (at roughly 6 profile picture updates per year). Nothing wrong with that — with any of it, really; the selfie crowd may annoy the larger class of moderate and modest posters and the lurkers may seem kinda creepy to us all (because uh, they are), but that’s okay. Anyways.
As I (electronically) leafed through the previous pictures that I had dubbed as being worthy of “profile pic” status, I was tickled/intrigued by the following “features”:
I am looking at the camera in only 2/6 photos
I am not wearing make-up in any of the 6 most recent profile pictures (OKAY, that’s not fair — I never wear make-up)
3/6 pictures (aka half — most interestingly, the three most recent photos) are action shots
So who cares? Well, I do, and here, I’ll explain why.
As a writer (oh come onnnnn.. who isn’t a “writer” these days when even the most air-headed Serena Van Der Woodsen refers to herself as a “professional blogger”? OKAY, redo: As a fan of the written word), I spend a good deal of time observing people (how they talk, what they say, the clothes they like to wear and what they post on the internet). So I cruised through my dwindling friends list this afternoon (checking out peoples’ profile pictures) and noticed a few recurring themes:
Candid shots (weddings, family portraits, graduations, vacation spots) – 90%
Music-related (performing at gigs or posing with a guitar, trumpet, or other instrument) – 7%
School logos/cartoons – 2%
Tattoos/body parts – 1%
So, in general, people choose pretty simple and straightforward profile pics (exactly what you’d expect); them hugging a pet, embracing a family member, or posing at an event where they dressed up to look super spiffy. Of these candid shots, I broke it down a little further:
Out of 10 randomly chosen guy friends, only 2/10 were looking directly at the camera in their profile pictures.
Out of 10 randomly chosen female friends, 9/10 were looking into the camera in their profile pictures (the one who wasn’t: her profile pic was of her two kids).
I scratched my head a little, but really, these stats weren’t very surprising. First of all, it doesn’t really MATTER either way — looking into the camera or abstractly/incidentally away from it — there’s certainly no right or wrong way to be photographed. However.
With the emphasis that our society places on females being beautiful and attractive and unfailingly pleasant, there’s honestly no reason to wonder why the profile pics that these ladies chose to “represent” themselves with were the most gorgeous, flawless, radiant and confident takes of themselves looking straight into the camera’s lens. The average woman (from my observations, anyways) wants to represent her life (pictorially speaking) with a stunningly perfect still image of her “best” possible self, with filters that smooth out those awful wrinkles and, at the same time, expertly blot out the acne and the blemishes that people in real life seem to fixate on.
And I hate it, and you, dear reader, already know that. I am, as always, 100% in opposition to our society’s gender stereotypes — that men should be strong, fierce, powerful, effortlessly handsome and ageless and that women are mere gorgeous, mindless and giggly little mannequins to hang expensive clothes and handbags on. YOU KNOW that. You KNOW that I hate that. So I’ll just move right along…
I’m not buying into it. Now, or ever. I don’t want to be represented on the internet (or in real life) as being “pretty.” Pretty, to me, is nothing more than a distraction; now, clean? Put-together? Kempt and hygienic? Yeah, I certainly want to look PRESENTABLE, but “pretty”.. no thanks. What I want people to notice is my creativity, my honesty, my passion for life and my cool skate tricks (of which I have like.. none. Right now. JEEZ, GIVE ME A FEW MONTHS) — not my complexion, my height, or my bra size (which I can tell you was a PRETTY sore subject back in middle and high school; being a 32A in a classroom full of 36C’s was fairly humiliating because, at the time, I totally lacked the confidence that I carry now and was still eating, right from the goddamn spoon, the lies that society was telling me about myself, because I was a girl). Screwwwwwwww that.
So – to state it (maybe) a little clearer (and nicer): I have things that I like about myself. I like that I can genuinely play an instrument, somewhat gracefully ride around on a skateboard, and hike up the steepest hill in my neighborhood without feeling like I’m about to have a heart attack (< I only started exercising regularly late last year; those first few weeks were such a rude awakening). And because these are the things that I love to do and that I identify with, these are the characteristics, features and attributes that I want to be associated with and – in a picture – represented by. I don’t want to be smiling perfectly in front of a cloudy bathroom mirror or tilting my head “just so” in a Mayfair Instagrammed selfie from the driver’s seat — instead, I want to be strumming my favorite chord – Gmaj7 – or pushing past my fear and leaning my body into the curve of a concrete ramp, or chasing my German Shepherd through the abandoned golf course down the road. I want people to see THAT Rose, the Rose that is doing exactly what she loves and enjoys. And you already know that I want to control the whole entire world, so I’ll just come right out and say it: I want PEOPLE to STOP emphasizing and endorsing and promoting society’s ridiculous beauty standards. Be yourself – your honest self – and be proud of yourself. Enjoy your life. Your confidence – once you’ve claimed it – will encourage OTHERS to be confident, and if we all abandon our posts on the corner of Eternally Beautiful and Fabulous, then things can finally start to change. Now — while there’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful, don’t ever let it consume you. I, for one, will not waste a single penny on a tube of foundation, 30 seconds gripping a stupid pink razor, or even 5 minutes wielding a pointless straightener or curling iron. Fire hazards — that’s all those are.
In short, I don’t want to wear a mask, and while I can recognize what society would label as the flaws in my appearance, I don’t believe that they need to be fixed; there is nothing about YOU that needs to be fixed, either, and the amount of time and money spent in the ongoing effort to “correct” your flaws is a crying shame, because you could be doing something way more fun with your time and with your money. Unless you are doing it for you. That counts for something. I can very well understand that achieving and maintaining a beautiful outer appearance is a passion for some people (it provides as much joy and satisfaction to them as skateboarding does for me), but if you’re doing it for any other reason than because it makes YOU happy, then it’s totally lame, and you should just move on from it.
Disclaimer: I know that we live in a society where I’m the crazy one — the hippie, the rebel, the confused girl/boy conundrum, and that nothing that I say will make a difference, but maybe, over time, things will change. I have to believe that. I can only hope that future generations will be able to move through life – personally and professionally – in an environment that promotes and stimulates intellectual, emotional, and creative growth rather than unrealistic and unachievable (and outright stupid) beauty standards.
And I alluded to it in the title, so I’ll confirm it here: this IS going to be the last blog post on aunaqui.wordpress.com (or any other blogging site) as I’ve realized that it (blogging) is a distraction for me — it’s easy and noncommital and an excuse to not continue work on my half-way finished novel (it’s been half-way finished for about 2 and a half years now) and to not begin working on my series of children’s novels (which will involve mischievous and frivolous rabbits). So — when these true works of art have been completed, I’ll let you guys know, but until then —
Signing off (while strumming the guitar and dropping a half-pipe and throwing a stick for Shep.. all at the same time),