I once ate a photograph of myself.
At a marching band competition. Where Zach Elster and myself took home a “Best Drum Major” award. And when I accepted the award I was wearing a knee brace over my all-white marching band uniform. Because I tore my ACL. At band camp. We get it! Stop trying to one-up everything.
The POINT is, in 2002, insecurity had me in a chokehold and Brittni Sullivan tried to show a BOY my school picture from LAST YEAR. Before I had braces. And I thought braided pigtails were sexy. And I was wearing my dad’s Zildjian t-shirt. And Groucho Marx’ eyebrows were reincarnated onto my face. Okay, okay! Seriously, stop trying to steal my thunder.
Back to my point. That picture haunted me. Because in the year after it was taken, the braces were on their way to correcting my overbite and my Marx eyebrows died and turned into a cat, which I think was the goal before getting sidetracked by my face. Also, want to lose 15 pounds of after-school hot dog fat? Get yourself some knee surgery. Between the physical therapy and the vicodin puking, you will achieve the body that magazines refer to as “skinny fat”- and that’s good enough!
Anyway, I’ve always been a late bloomer. As well as a control freak / perfectionist / Standard Virgo / terrified of everyone. So for someone to be able to see this photograph of me instead of what was real and sitting in front of them, (a skinny fat girl in a white marching band uniform, still in braided pigtails) was unacceptable and embarrassing.
Thus, I wrestled the photo from Brittni’s hands, shoved it into my mouth and climbed to the top of the bleachers, where I chewed and swallowed it. It was wallet sized.
If you’re a female who is 9 months to 65 years old, which is the age you retire from caring, you’re going to obsess about your looks. If you are talented enough, you can turn it into a comedy bit and laugh about it with everyone and then go back to obsessing alone in an empty bathtub.
One way to obsess about what you look like, is to analyze photos of yourself and feel frustrated with your lack of control. My generation-ish and all my foremothers mostly dealt with film. Which means if we didn’t like it, we could rip it up- which is the ultimate form of exercising control over your looks. Also, there’s always peace of mind knowing that the picture of you wearing your headgear that your sister took when you weren’t looking exists only in a box in an attic somewhere. *
No. If you don’t like the selfie you took in the bathroom, where the light somehow perfectly washes out your skin so you look like you have a flat, white face with no nose and giant baby doll eyes, you can just keep trying until your arm gets tired, or you get the best possible Facebook profile pic. Or, you accept mediocrity and learn how to use Photoshop. How in the world are you supposed to toughen up if you can just delete your way to perfection?
“But, Tory!” You say, even though I repeatedly asked you to either address me as “Star Killer” or stop talking. “Because of digital photography, we are able to share those embarrassing photos with the Internet, and all laugh about it together! This story would be way better if you showed us a copy of the picture that you ate, instead of just describing it!”
I get that. But, it’s in a box in an attic in Waterloo, Iowa. Where it will stay for a long time because nobody has the energy to look for it. And because I am more powerful than the Internet.
Somebody call me when using the first take of your selfie becomes a hashtag trend, so I can kick myself for not starting an empowering movement.
*My mom doesn’t scrapbook or organize things like your mom probably does. But my mom can kick your mom’s ass. Back in the 90s, someone took a photo of my mom and she threw their camera in the trash and told them she was in the Witness Protection Program. Yes, much of my self-deprecating humor comes directly from this remarkable woman. I am now not being sarcastic when I tell you that my mom is a superhero and no matter how much she hates her hair, she still looks like Geena Davis. I will leave you with this picture of her. She is the one in the middle.