Monday, August 28, 2006

Things you can tell just by looking at her

I've never liked having my picture taken. Ever since I was a little girl, I've dreaded the sight of a camera. I don't like the exposure, the vulnerability that a photograph creates. Lately, I've been taking pictures of myself, trying to capture the different angles and lines of my face. Every one is a different moment, a different version of myself. These pictures are clues, pieces of the puzzle. I've been fitting them together, shifting, rearranging, looking for the one that will complete the image.


I was not a beautiful child. I was not the little girl that everyone adored, the one whose smile could light up a room. Instead, I was the ugly duckling, struggling for a place among the swans. I used to envy those girls I went to school with, the ones who moved in packs, the ones who were blessed with a careless beauty. These were the girls I wanted to be, the ones with perfect skin and the tennis tans and the easy smiles. The same girls who punished the rest of us for not being like them. Their beauty blinded us to what they were like on the inside, a perfect sleight of hand. The older I get, the more comfortable I've become in this skin but there are still moments of doubt, moments when I become that little girl again.


This is what I see reflected in the mirror every day. I have lived with it for almost twenty-eight years but there are still moments when it seems strange to me, unrecognizable. When I look at this face, I see my father's nose and my mother's cheekbones. I see fine lines creeping in around the eyes, deeper ones around the mouth from years of laughing. I see the freckles that only come out in the summer, the scar that came from scratching at chicken pox. I wonder what others see when they look at this face, if they see beauty or something less remarkable.


A photograph can only tell you so much. It can't tell you what the sound of my laugh is like or the way my hands move when I talk. It can't tell you how I touch my hair when I'm nervous or that I have a habit of biting my lower lip. It can't tell you what I look like when I'm angry or sad or in love. It can't tell you what I dream of, what I'm afraid of, what my insecurities are. It can't tell you who I am. In the end, it doesn't matter what others see, so long as I don't lose sight of myself. I know that there is beauty there, that if I look hard enough, eventually I'll find it.

21 Comments:

Blogger Susannah said...

Reading this post, it is as if you and i are the same person. i'm also on the self portraiture path as a way to accept what i look like and investigate what i think of myself (previously - not so much). the face is only one aspect of the painting but i think it's a good place to start.

these are beautiful honest portraits and i like them very much ... keep going :-) x

8/29/2006 3:36 AM  
Blogger JvS said...

It's weird that we make friends through blogging with still images and disconnected voiceless voices. They're only ever parts of the whole, and sometimes outright lies. I'm not comfortable with photos of me either, but that's not going to stop me and my camera from bonding in public ;-)

8/29/2006 4:39 AM  
Blogger Michael Thomas said...

That was awesome, and haunting. I love the overall tone of your posts, and your writing pulls the reader in almost immediately. Keep up the good work!

Michael

Cardiac Fantasies

8/29/2006 6:43 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I don't know how you could see anything but beauty when you look at your reflection!

I know how you feel though. In school I felt the same about some of the girls and guys that had what I considered to be the world on a string. It's a gift that some people have. But you said it just right, that it doesn't matter how others see you. Your self-image is all that counts. I've known people who by anyone's accounting were butt-ugly; and yet, they had an inner glow, a self confidence that shown through that.

8/29/2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Lex Ham Rand said...

I think we all struggle with appearance. We want our faces, our bodies, our clothes to be authentic and sincere, but we also want others to like us and accept us. So many quick judgments are made on the bases of cursory glimpses of others. In my work I dress rather formally - keep my hair cut short and neat - wear polished shoes and nice silk ties. No bumper stickers on the car.

Professionally, I try to "blend." Some people love "blending" and they embrace anonymity. My urge is to stand out, to express myself, but I, quite frankly, cannot afford the consequences of being "unusual" in appearance with a family that depends upon my salary. Not an ususual situation. We all have to subsume parts of our individuality to get along in the world. Some of us can do that more easily than others.

I think women are dealt a more difficult hand by society when it comes to appearance. As a newly graying, slightly overweight man I look "distinguished." A very different assessment would greet a graying, slightly overweight woman, I'm afraid.

Sorry - all about me - not about you. You look quite lovely in the pictures you posted, Rebecca. And I think you are right - the photos can only tell us so much. Thankfully, we have your words to help fill in some of the gaps!

8/29/2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Gerald Huml said...

I think you are quite attractive physically, but even better I gather from your blog that you are introspective, intelligent, creative, can kick ass with your prose, and a decent person. Those qualities make you very attractive inside and out.

8/29/2006 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Neil said...

I want to say something dumb like "you're a beautiful woman," but it sounds sort of stupid, like a pick-up line in a bar. So, I'll stick with speaking about your writing, where I can say your words are beautiful and it doesn't sound cheesy.

8/29/2006 12:59 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Susannah, I'm just getting started and I don't know what I'll find. But it's been interesting so far.

Jemima, that's why I like to post pictures of myself occasionally. I wish other bloggers would do it more often. It's nice to have a face to go with the words sometimes.

Michael, thanks. Have you recovered from your weekend yet?

Scott, I think it's always easier to see beauty in others than it is in yourself. And pretty on the outside doesn't always mean pretty on the inside.

Rand, you can say whatever you like here, I always appreciate the thought you put into your comments. I'm one of those blenders, someone who tries not to stand out. But in a weird way, I still want to be noticed so what does that mean?

Gerald, thank you for the compliments. I really am just a big 'ole mess like everyone else though, I'm afraid.

Neil, I adore cheesiness but that's just the kind of weirdo I am. By the way, are those space pants you're wearing? 'Cause your butt is out of this world. :)

8/29/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I love this post! Like Susannah, I too am exploring looking at myself from the outside in ... it is a fascinating process.

Lovely writing!

8/29/2006 2:26 PM  
Blogger Michael Thomas said...

Rebecca,

You were asking what I meant about the RSS feeds earlier. Here is the one to your page.

www.writing-blind.blogspot.com/rss.xml

This is your RSS feed. If you have a home page such as Yahoo, you can “add content” and it will basically put a section in your homepage with each entry title in the last 3 days, up to five (these are yahoo defaults)
So, whenever you post again, someone subscribing to your RSS feed by seeing the new article on their homepage, and can link directly to it. It saves folks from having to visit three or four times a day to see if you have written anything new.

Michael

8/29/2006 4:57 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

My God, you are gorgeous.

8/29/2006 5:46 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Michael, you may have to explain that to me again. I signed up for something and there's a little icon thingie down at the bottom but I'm not sure if that's what you mean or not.

Lynn, don't get carried away. And besides, you're one to talk. :) I hope you're feeling better by the way. We're missing your voice out here in the blogging world.

8/29/2006 8:19 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

And Deborah, welcome, I didn't see you up there. Susannah's great, isn't she? I love her blog.

8/29/2006 8:41 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Your photos show beauty on the outside, your writing beauty on the inside. :)

8/29/2006 9:16 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Jeff, thank you. You're very sweet.

8/29/2006 9:51 PM  
Blogger briliantdonkey said...

Another great post as usual. Thanks for sharing the pics and your thoughts as well. At the risk of sounding like some sort of pick up line, the pics are beautiful. As Jeff put it so well your writing shows a beauty inside as well.

This just in from the "things I never thought I would say" department.....

A)Your mom must have very nice cheeks.

B) Your dad must have a pretty nose.

C)attention Rebecca's Dad,,,,,put down the gun I meant no harm.

and

D) Hey baby whats your sign?

Okay so maybe the last line was a bit of a pickup line.

Glad to hear you are feeling better. See you when you get back.

BD

8/30/2006 1:05 AM  
Anonymous bookfraud said...

as a faithfully married man, i will restrain from heaping upon the ample praise for your appearance that other men seem to have already given you. that said, i know that all the sweet talk and such won't erase one's insecurities (spoken from someone who was a fat kid and is not particularly good looking). there is beauty in there, and you will find it.

and all those childhood beauties you grew up with? you wouldn't want to trade places with them now. for anything, except maybe a book contract.

8/30/2006 11:09 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Rob, I hate my nose. With a passion. I've seriously considered having work done, only I don't like pain. And I'm a Libra. My birthday's in a little over a month actually. I will officially be old. (And as far as pickup lines go, I prefer things like "Do you wash your pants in Windex? 'Cause I can see myself in them." Very classy.)

BF, if I count correctly I'm now up seven pictures to your none. Come on, you can't live in hiding forever? Don't you want to give us a little peek?

And you're right about those girls. I see women like them every day and it makes me so happy that I didn't turn out like that.

8/30/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Saaleha said...

AT the risk of doing a shameless self promo, you might find a post on my blog, yesterdays, about how love makes us feel beautiful, somewhat interesting.

But this little piece of writing, I loved. It spoke with a voice that far too many of us can relate to. Lovely.

9/05/2006 3:32 PM  
Blogger Laura Young said...

Lovely photos, lovely post.
If it's any consolation, I looked like Greg Brady when I was a teenager. No one ever says it isn't true.
Yours in the struggle,
L

9/06/2006 9:34 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Saaleha, welcome, I'm glad it spoke to you.

Laura, I thought you were joking. Wow. You were still cute though, in a Greg Brady-ish kind of way. :)

9/07/2006 6:32 PM  

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