Humor, Life

Imperfect

Last week, I thought about pictures and how many I have taken over the last fifty years in which I looked like a troll. I once wrote a post about how I don’t take a good picture back in 2013. I would link to it but the post was full of pictures that didn’t migrate with my blog.

Maybe it was the universe agreeing with me that I don’t indeed take a good picture very often.

 

My 35th birthday, I was sober here.

 

I turned fifty yesterday and along with gaining another year of life, I also gained wisdom. That looking bad in pictures isn’t the worst thing a person could deal with. It could just be my thing, my jam, my MO.

Kari was a good writer, a great friend, funny as hell, but dammit if she took a terrible picture.

 

Yelling at my ex-husband while walking across the Mississippi River. Magic moments. I have NO idea how that marriage crumbled.

 

I decided I was going to tackle this phobia of taking bad pictures with the exact opposite approach (the psychological approach); by finding the worst possible pictures and looking them straight in the face. Maybe by sharing these pictures, by searching for my “bad” pictures, I will realize that they weren’t so bad after all.

Of course, it is about perspective because when I shared some of these photos in my private Facebook group, many of you remarked how good I looked in them. Maybe you were being nice or maybe you were being honest and it doesn’t even matter. Because if I don’t feel good about them, there aren’t enough nice words in the world to change my mind.

 

 

To be clear, most of the bad pictures were taken before the invention of a selfie or even a smartphone. Now we have the ability to edit our pictures to make sure we look just so, carefully curating how the world sees us, and even how we see ourselves.

Pictures changed forever once the smartphone showed up.

Gone were the “bad” pictures.

I noticed after around 2011, my pictures changed too. I didn’t look as bad as I used to because I would spend an embarrassing amount of time trying to prevent ugly pictures from surfacing, or making sure the pictures I put out there were of a certain quality.

Before this, you took the picture and sent it into Walgreens or the grocery store or Shutterfly and waited a week to get them back. When you opened the pictures in the parking lot of the store in your car, one by one you would go through them and be like, “sucks, sucks, sucks, WHY THE HELL CAN I NOT BE READY FOR THE CAMERA? WHO THE HELL IS THIS PERSON? WHAT DID I TAKE A PICTURE OF THE TOILET SEAT FOR??”

 

 

But the stories behind those unflattering pictures are good; sometimes really, really good. Most times better than the stories behind the pictures that are perfectly executed and groomed.


Like the time I hosted a surprise 50th birthday party for my mom and ended up at the ER for stitches after cutting a watermelon and slicing my finger off in the process. I didn’t want to cancel, so on pain killers and with a poorly bandaged hand, I proceeded with the party.

 

By the way, my mom and dad were the same age I am now, in this picture

 

The towel is a handmade sling one of my friends made for me out of one of my kitchen tea towels. I was a hot fucking mess but that party was so much fun even though I don’t really remember most of it because of painkillers.

 


Or the time I fell asleep at a family barbecue (in the middle of the day) because I had taken a Benadryl for a sinus infection (I know) and then had two glasses of wine (I know).

 

 


Or how some of the best captures of me from our wedding were from the disposable cameras that were on the tables.

 

 


Two days after giving birth to Ella, Mike captured this picture of Anna and me after a good cry. She had been an only child for seven and a half years and it was just settling in that both of our lives were going to change. I never shared this picture because I felt like I looked bad in it but now I look at it and am so happy he took it. It was such an intimate peek into our lives, one that I will never forget, one that Anna would never remember without it.

 

 


My mom took this picture of me after a long exhausting day. We had gotten out of the house to go for a drive, just her, me, and baby Ella. Ella didn’t like to ride in the car back then and proceeded to cry and scream the entire two-hour ride. We stopped at a McDonalds on the way home to get lunch but ate it in the car so we could console her in the backseat. We both ordered a “Southern” chicken sandwich which was a novelty menu at the time and hated it because it didn’t have mayonnaise on it. I just remember we laughed and laughed because after our long traumatic day, not having mayo on a sandwich was just the thing to put us over the edge.

But I also remember that the sun came out while we were sitting there, that we sat by a tree and the leaves were blowing and it was just a moment. That we made mention of her mom (my grandma and Ella’s namesake) being there with us in spirit and it just became this great day. After we got home, I was on the couch feeding Ella and this was the picture my mom took. She said she wanted me to remember what motherhood felt like at that moment because it wasn’t until Ella was in my arms that she was soothed.

 

I am so glad she took this picture.


 

Walking around Six Flags with Ellie and the hat that she won playing carnival games that covered her entire head, face, and neck. I was just getting over the worst case of pneumonia I had ever had after being down for a solid six weeks. I honestly no joke, thought I might die that summer and going to Six Flags felt like a marathon for me.

 

 

But there is so much good in this picture that you can’t see. She rode her first rollercoaster that day, I guided her all around the park with the big hat on and she got so many laughs and comments. I ate an entire bag of cotton candy because it was the first food I could actually taste in over a month.

 


I used to hate my crooked smile, how my eyes get really squinty when I am being funny, how I am never ready for a picture. But now I look back and love these old pictures.

 

There is so much soul in real-life pictures. They truly capture what you were really going through at that moment. They make you feel the memories so strongly, it’s almost like you are there again.

 

 

When Mike was scrolling through all these “bad” pictures, he said to me, “when do I get to the bad ones?”

Kind of like how we hate the sound of our voices, do others see us in a totally different perspective than we see ourselves?

Maybe we are our worst critic. Maybe this imperfection that I talk about is within ourselves and how we view ourselves. Maybe the most imperfect part of all of these pictures is that I have hidden them away for years hoping no one would see them.

Trying to get the perfect picture of a very imperfect life we all live in.

Because let’s face it. Just being in the picture, to begin with, is pretty incredible.

26 thoughts on “Imperfect”

  1. This is great. I love these pics and I too was like- wait, when do we see the bad ones. I love the ones with funny faces that catch a ‘moment’ and help preserve a memory.

    I put a photo album together of Coach and I as babies/ kids up until our wedding. I left it on a table for guests to look at . . . maybe you saw it. 😉 Anyway Coach was cringing at some of the photos I was going to share of myself. I told him “Hey, it shows progress!”

    Here’s to your progress and many happy moments captured in the future!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was once told by a photographer that we don’t like photos of ourselves because that is literally not how we see ourselves. We can only see ourselves in mirrors and reflections so we quite literally see ourselves backwards from how everyone else views us. Therefor a photo always looks “off” to us and we find nit picking reasons why. He actually proved it to me by developing a photo in reverse so it was a mirror image and how I see myself… it was pretty neat! (Though i still can’t say I loved that photo because yeah, I am my worse critic!). But you are so right that even the most awful photos often have a great story behind them… and yeah most of my worst photos were before we could take digital pictures and see in an instant if we needed to retake it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow! I’ve never heard this! That is cool!
      I have heard something very similar about voices though and how we hear our own voice is totally different than what we sound like. Isn’t that insane??

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  3. What a fantastic post! I agree that we are our own worst critics. I find something to nitpick about in every photo I see of myself. (“Ugh, I look so fat!” “My hair looks awful!”, etc etc) What your friend above ^ said about the photos and how it’s because we don’t see ourselves that way…yes, I’ve heard that, too. So interesting!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I kept waiting to get to the bad ones too! I’m so glad you shared these pictures and stories with us! Happy (belated) birthday. I hope the next 50 are filled with as many wonderful stories as your first 50.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That last line: YES YES YES! How fortunate we are to be in the picture; whether it was flattering or not. I love this post so much.

    And what a beautiful soul your Mom is for taking that pic of you and your baby: “She said she wanted me to remember what motherhood felt like at that moment because it wasn’t until Ella was in my arms that she was soothed.”

    I have a lot of bad photos too, but I’m at the point in life where it doesn’t bother me anymore. It was a time and a place, and those are no longer.

    Can I pick a favorite bad pic of you? The one on your wedding day where you look like you’re going to vomit. That one gave me a little chuckle; who didn’t want to good ‘almost vomiting’ pic from their wedding day?
    XO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s mine too!! We have two albums full of pictures from the disposable cameras and we made hilarious (to us, at least) captions for every single one of them. It is one of my favorite memories of our wedding….sitting in our family room and gut-laughing hysterically at the inappropriate captions we were writing. 🙂

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  6. Your wedding pics are great, but I commiserate with your plight. I am not photogenic and have few pics of me because of it. Also in the ones I do have my eyes are usually shut. I didn’t like those flash bulbs as a child so I scrunched my eyes shut. Still do it to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, Kari. I’ve been sort of MIA on the interwebs lately because work is such a shitshow lately, so I’m late to comment, but: I LOVE this post. So much. I can’t tell you how many photos I have that I didn’t like when they were taken because I thought I looked bad, and now I look back at them and wonder why I couldn’t see how good I actually looked. Which might be partly because of the things you say here (I now see the living in them more than my physical being), but also because I actually looked pretty damn good, in a physical being sense. (As do you in so many of these.)

    I suppose the negative take-away from that could be: We are in a state of constant deterioration so we better appreciate what we’ve got while we’ve got it. BUT. I’m gonna go for a different take: Somehow, in the present, it’s hard to see what’s beautiful. If I look back at photos from 10 years ago and think I looked pretty good, I bet the same thing is going to happen with today’s photos ten years from now. So why not let myself see that now? Why put myself down over my turkey neck and all the other things that don’t look like they once did?

    I can’t always, but I’m trying.

    Happy birthday. I’m so glad you’re here, writing. As my grandma used to say about getting old: It beats the alternative!

    Sending you love–

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would give anything to have more pictures of relatives who have passed on and that sticks with me all of the time. Someday our great-grandchildren are going to want these photos. These “ugly” ass photos. Let’s give it to them. 🙂

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  8. One of my regrets is avoiding having my picture taken for such a large part of my kids’ lives. Nowadays, I may not share the bad picture, but at least I have it for our personal album (if it’s ever printed).

    Liked by 1 person

  9. You are so freakin cute. And yes, Mike is right, these pictures aren’t bad. But I get looking at yourself and seeing a bad picture. We are soul sisters in that regard. A pic just surfaced recently of me with a shaved head. I’m with my boyfriend at the time and we both look miserable. Heck, we probably were miserable, but I was so happy to see that picture.

    My mom has a collage wall of pics of us when we were kids and ever other time when you walk by you just stop and relive a moment here and a moment there. There is something so wonderful about seeing moment in time and reliving the rest of the moments around it. We’d never have that opportunity without the pictures. The good the bad and the ugly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!!
      When Mike and I first started dating, he had a wall in his kitchen of unflattering pictures of him and all of his friends. It was called The Wall of Shame and it was my favorite place in his house. We created one in our kitchen when we moved in together and then over the years stopped. But I might reinvent it because it’s a lot of fun to look at those pictures d laugh. Especially now. ❤️

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