Me, my tongue, and Wreck-It RalphLast week I went on a business trip, a press junket to the premiere of Oz the Great and Powerful, and I took a ton of photographs. Naturally, I jumped on Facebook when I got home to see what my friends had to say. And there it was, a criticism right beneath a photo of me with a statue of Ralph from the Oscar-nominated film Wreck-It Ralph. In it I was sticking my tongue out, my go-to pose in any photo, and the comment came from an aunt who called me out for being immature.
The barb hurt; I won't deny it. Because the truth is so much more complicated. I don't stick my tongue out in photos because I'm clinging to my youth so much as I'm clinging to the idea that people will be so focused on my tongue that they will miss my body.
Silly? Yes. And maybe immature too, although I tend to use another "i" word to explain the tongue poking out in photos from my graduation, my wedding, last Christmas: insecurity.
I am a recovering bulimic. I have spent years trying to hide my body away from the world, and when a camera lens is pointed my way, I freeze. The tongue flicks out, my defense mechanism.
When I tell people that I hate having my photo taken, I'm rarely taken seriously. They laugh. They roll their eyes. And they insist.
To the average person, a photo is an annoyance at worst. Most, I've found, are actually rather fond of being the subject of a photo. The same people who will protest a one-on-one shot just for the sake of protesting are more than happy to jump in on a group photo.
I'm trying hard to be one of those people. I am, after all, a photographer. I make a portion of my living looking through the lens of a camera, capturing images of other people. And as a mother, I've come to realize that one day I will be gone, and the photos of me will be a comfort to my daughter.
Still, I'm uncomfortable. You can see it in how I angle my body, leaning forward to hide the pooch of my stomach. You can see it in how I screw up my face and poke out my tongue, pre-empting "bad" photos by making a face. I'm purposely making it harder for someone to look at my picture and say "that's a bad shot" because with the tongue out, there's a signal that it was never meant to be "good" in the first place.
I would love to find a happy medium one day, a place where I will feel confident enough in how I look to just be myself. But I'm still at a point where I'd rather take "looks immature" over "what a fat slob."
Do you like having your photo taken? What do you do to avoid it?
Image by Sunny Chanel