This is my face
Dec. 2, 2017 at 10:30 p.m.
My son has spent approximately 1,277 days on this Earth. My daughter, roughly 455. Counting the ones I took today, I have exactly 18 billion photos of them.
Oops. Sorry. 18 billion and one. They just did the cutest thing, you guys.
And they look amazing in every single one of these photos, even including the newborn "Benjamin Button" ones.
(No, YOU'RE biased).
By contrast, I have been alive on this planet for about 13,200 days. Thanks to the invention of the selfie, there are now probably 18 billion photos of me floating around, too. The only difference is, I only like about seven of them. Actually, more like six (in that one photo, my eyes are doing that weird thing).
Yes, I know. Female hates how she looks in photos! Shocker!
This revelation is right up there with me admitting my feet are always cold and that I don't understand the appeal of "Entourage." But I bring this up for a very good reason, because I have recently come to terms with some vital facts and it has made a huge difference.
I'm 36. This is my face. I need to get over it.
Now, if those three above sentences don't seem like a revelation to you, congratulations, you are likely a man or a well-adjusted, confident woman. However, if you've ever taken 100 almost identical photos of yourself and then agonized for hour and a half about which one to post and then spent another 33 minutes trying out different Instagram filters to find the one that thins out your face the most, then you understand how huge this is.
I have wasted so much of my life either trying to micromanage every single photo I appear in or avoiding cameras all together. Because all I saw in every photo of me was every flaw a single human body could possibly house. Too fat in this one. Nose all wonky in this one. Too pale. Stomach rolls. Greasy hair. No makeup. Arm flab. Dumb smile. Double chin. Triple chin. Everywhere a chin, chin. Crow's feet (or, in some lighting, the whole damn crow). Forehead pimple. Bad posture. Crooked teeth.
I can go on.
Dark circles under my eyes. Cellulite. Sausage fingers. Flat hair. Dull hair. Frizzy hair. Freckles. Acne. Acne scars. Thin lips. Fat thighs. That weird flub that hangs out around the side of your bra.
Yeah. It's exhausting hating how you look in photos. Especially in this social media era where photos are taken and shared roughly every 2.3 seconds.
And so, I decided to let go. Just ... let it all go. Unfurl my fists and let go of the iron grip I was using to control the face that got shared in public.
Because technically, it's all the same face.
This is my face. This is my body. And in every photo, that is how I look at that particular moment.
Guys. GUYS. The freedom that comes with this revelation...you guys.such a weight has been lifted.
I'm now more than willing to let my husband take a picture of me playing with the kids when I'm in my pajamas and sporting my best Swamp Witch hair. Because I want to remember that moment. And because, yes, some days I look like a Swamp Witch.
Now when a parent wants a photo of me, I don't say, "How about later, when I have makeup on?" I shut up and pose.
And now when my friends whip out that cell phone, I smile and BOOM. That's it. Done. No more "let me see it" followed immediately by "let's take another one" followed by "let me see it" followed by "let's take another one" followed by "let me see it" followed by nothing because we are dead because we got caught in this stupid loop and couldn't get out because no matter how many photos we took, we magically never ended up looking like Jennifer Lawrence.
(Which is so dumb. Because even if we did look like Jennifer Lawrence, we still can't afford Jennifer Lawrence's stylist, meaning we still wouldn't look like Jennifer Lawrence.)
Of course, every road that leads to brilliant revelations like this one are full of potholes. I mean, do I still want people to only post photos of me where I look good? Of course. I'm still embarrassingly vain. But now, if they don't, it no longer bothers me because I've realized it's more important to me to be part of the picture. To be part of that memory. To have people in my life that want to take a photo with me at all, than it is to look great in it.
This is my face. And now that I've stopped ripping it to shreds in every single photograph, it turns out that I actually kind of like it.
Oh man ... guys ... is this ... is this what being well-adjusted feels like?
Aprill Brandon is a columnist for the Advocate. Her column runs every two weeks in the Your Life section.