The Likable Self(ie)

For it’s tenth anniversary, Facebook made these awesome videos for everybody:

I have been a Facebook user since March 5, 2008 (as the above short video has informed you).  My Friends List is a moderate 505… more than my mother, but a lot less than the maximum 5000.  I’m guessing this is because I have actually MET 99% of the people on that list (a few are affiliated with organizations that interest me, and 1 or 2 I added in a desperate attempt to have more help during a specific game addiction phase). I acknowledge that despite being voted “most likely to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl,” I have never been popular in this country.  Never.  I’ve never been competitive and my self-esteem has never really hinged on whether or not people like me, so it’s all good.  I post and share all kinds of stuff, and don’t usually get that much attention.  Sometimes I’m disappointed when a picture I’m really proud of or an issue I really care about doesn’t get liked, but whatevs.

As you saw in the video, my most popular posts don’t usually even have anything to do with me.  I went through every single one of my posted pictures today.  At the time the video was compiled in February, my most popular pictures were my parents at Barnaby’s and a re-posted internet picture of magnified sand (28 likes each).   There was one picture of me with 3 other people that got 30 likes, but 12 of them were from people I’d never met so I’m not counting that one.  That record was broken on Mother’s Day, when I posted a picture of my great-grandmother’s diamond ring: 30 likes, probably because of the eloquent caption about being the 4th generation of strong women… plus, it’s diamonds (I’m just sayin’).

I think my status updates about earning my Master’s Degrees and my job change to Catholic Charities got quite a few responses – FB doesn’t make it easy to sift through status updates.   But I am actually very happy to say that my Mother’s Day status update blasted the record with 42 likes and 13 shares.  This is because I tagged 17 women (23 of whom I did not know); I was thrilled because the whole point was to honor a specific type of woman who never gets any credit.

So because I’m not really that Facebook popular, and because my most-liked posts generally have little to nothing to do with me, something happened yesterday that floored me.

First, let’s talk about the selfie.  It’s a thing now.  It has a Wikipedia page, a definition in Urban Dictionary, a definition in the Oxford Dictionary,  a TV show, and a song.  I find no admirable reason to take a picture of your forcibly curved slightly (or mostly) naked body in the bathroom mirror, nor am I impressed when someone is slapping these all over their profiles.  I really hope we’ve all seen the light about the Duck Face…  People also don’t pay nearly enough attention to what is behind them when they take selfies.  Really, the subject of the pictures can get real old real fast, but I find great enjoyment in figuring out what garment of clothing is wadded up on the floor or how someone decorated their bathroom.  That said… someone, at some point, figured out that taking a picture of yourself at a 45 degree angle with a suspended camera (that is NOT visible in the picture) is by FAR the most flattering way to record your image.  Seriously.  God bless that person.  May he or she have extra rooms in Heaven.  Not kidding.  There is no better way to make your face look way thinner and highlight all the right things than to look up at the camera.  And, if done properly, no one can even tell that your phone is an arm’s length over your head.

Now, yesterday morning.  I’m gonna be real here so you get my point.  I woke up late.  I was much more groggy than usual.  I dragged myself to the bathroom in my oversized blue t-shirt, brushed my teeth, dunked my hair, and turned on my Kindle to listen to my daily Bible dose on YouVersion (Isaiah 53-55, Mark 13) as I proceeded to “do” my hair and makeup while fighting to keep my eyes open.  Despite my usually very successful nighttime coconut oil regiment, the weather has not been agreeing with my skin.  My skin is also tanning a bit, so my makeup is a little pale.   I wasn’t thrilled with the result of my efforts.  About to go get dressed, I was struck with a sudden desire to “use it” (as a kid I had many years ago used to say).

Although running late, I was so groggy and still half-asleep.  I realized I hadn’t checked the Amazon Free App of the Day yet, so I reached for my Kindle and started perusing the app store.  I happened upon a photo ap called Rhonna Designs that looked pretty interesting, so I downloaded that.  At this point I realized that I still hadn’t really tried out the camera on my Kindle.  I switched it on and opted to use the Perfectly Clear Intelligent Image Correction camera app that I downloaded when it was the free app a few weeks ago and also hadn’t tried yet.  So I take a few pictures.  The app didn’t save the original shot of the one I chose to use, but here is another one of the photo shoot (keeping in mind I’m still relaxing in the bathroom):

Truth

Please notice the following:

  1. My skin looks pale and kinda gray.
  2. My décolletage (because that’s such a fancy word even though it is not usually used in the context of pajamas) is covered in freckles and – dare I say it – age spots (which I only imagine they are because that big one on the left sure didn’t used to be there).
  3. If you zoom in you will see my textured skin, large pores, puffy un-awake eyes, quasi-hidden pimples, and all the lines that are getting deeper despite all my efforts to keep plumping up my cheeks (sure… that’s why).
  4. My hair is awfully dull without highlights.  And all those highlight-y streaks?  Gray.  So much gray.
  5. My eyebrows are (as usual) out of control.
  6. I do have great teeth.  And eyes, but they aren’t really feeling it today.

I chose to take another one because this one (obviously) is too straight-on, and a little close.  I’m also not looking into the camera (another common mistake often evident in selfies is looking at the screen instead of the camera, which are not lined up).  I really had no intention of doing anything with these pictures, I was just testing out the camera and apps.

So I took a picture I was happy with, using the Perfectly Clear app.  Once I had the picture I first did a general autofix, then I clicked on the “beautify” feature.  Because who doesn’t want to be more beautiful?

Beautified

Beautified

Here is what happened, INSTANTLY:

  1. The lighting in my bathroom became professional.  You can almost see the little white umbrella in the corner.
  2. My skin is bright and monochromatic.  It somehow has a glow.  My makeup is perfect.  So natural you can’t even tell it’s there.
  3. All freckles and age spots are completely erased.  Completely gone.  Every. Single. One.
  4. The sleepy bags under my eyes?  Also gone.
  5. Fine lines? Ironed away.
  6. Large pores? What pores?
  7. My hair is suddenly dark again.  My hair reflects bright sunlight instead of being filled with gray streaks.
  8. All those stray eyebrow hairs?  Poof!
  9. And I still have great teeth and eyes.
  10. But it couldn’t erase the necklaces on the wall or my shower tiles.

So on to the next app.  Rhonna Designs.  I like this one because of the cool quotes and designs you can add.  I wasn’t quite sure where I was going to fit those into this picture, but I was just playing anyway.  The app has several filters.  I choose “Desaturated,” which tones everything down a bit more.  Not black and white, not sepia, but on the edge of both.  Subtle.  Sort of a 20s look, like those Kim Anderson photos that used to be so popular.  And result of that single change was so nice that I thought, “What the heck?” And I felt a slight twinge of guilt as (from the lounge in my bathroom) I replaced the fun profile pic I took with my BFFF Michelle at Petraglyph with this masterpiece:

My record for a profile pic is 19 likes for a picture of me and my mom when I was TWO.  The next (at 18 likes) is a great picture from last November that I framed to cut off half of my face (another great trick for slimming down – do it literally).  The profile picture that was the “big reveal” that I had lost about 60 pounds only got a whopping 2 likes.  Keep in mind that these totals are after years of being posted.

But this picture… THIS digital deception taken in my pajamas when I was exhausted and sitting in my bathroom… got 8 compliments and 48 likes in under 24 hours.  Forty. Eight.  That’s a lot.  I got likes from people who rarely – if ever – acknowledge my posts.  People with whom I share that complicated never-acknowledged-but-socially-essential “You’re on my friends list because I’m vaguely interested in your life even though I haven’t seen you in 20 years and we weren’t really even friends in the flesh but you don’t insult me so if FB chooses to pop you into my news feed I’ll read what you posted but probably not give any response” relationship.  BOYS liked it (Sorry, pal, you’re either too young, too old, or married now).

So what do I think of this?  I’m not insulted at all.  I love it.  Heck, that’s the whole point.  Who doesn’t like compliments?  When I walk away from the mirror this is how I imagine myself, so I’m glad you see it, too.

I won’t be changing my profile picture for awhile.

But it does say something about us as humans, doesn’t it?

(Here’s a version with the lyrics)

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About Thoughts by Sallie

I am a missionary kid who grew up in Mexico. I have 2 first languages. The two most amazing places that I have seen stars are in the Amazon rain forest and at the Sea of Galilee. I have moved 34 times in my life. I think that working with at-risk foster kids for 5 1/2 years is a greater accomplishment than earning a master's degree. My most favorite meal is popcorn, apples, and cheese. I am happiest when I am being hugged by a child. Jesus is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? My life's dream is to help children become more than they could ever imagine. I have Attention-Deficit Disorder, and I take medicine every day that helps me to think straight; it's not a cure, but it sure does help. I get lonely and feel very isolated sometimes. I love nostalgia. I HATE shallowness. I love taking pictures of windows. I am most proud when I see my friends grow and accomplish new things. I am most motivated by my love for and commitment to others. I am overflowing with thoughts. I am an ellipses. I am Rasha.

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