Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Marble and The Watermelon

If there is one thing I hate, it's having my picture taken. I'm not, what the model's would call, "photogenic". It's been plaguing me my whole life. Even when I was at my thinnest, (6 years old was an awesome time for me), I still didn't photograph well.

And now it's even worse, because every time I take a picture it appears as if a marble, (my head), is resting nicely atop a watermelon, (my body). Stick a carrot in where my nose should be and you could call me Frosty because I do a lovely impression of a snowman. And, of course, every time I take a picture, I have to have that moment of initial shock where I ask, "Am I really that big? Because I don't feel I'm that big". Guess what? I am.

I think the picture above perfectly replicates every single picture I have taken from 1986 to the present. Usually I'm clothed, but you get the drift. And, to be fair, I only squeeze my pannus in private. And I only look nauseatingly full half of the time.

Usually, in group photos, you will find me in the back looking like a floating head. The back of a group picture is prime location for fat people. It's an ideal spot because you can still be in the picture and camouflage the rest of your body with other people's bodies. To put it mildly, I will go out of my way to void my body out of any picture ever taken of me. And sadly, this is why there are really no pictures of me in recent times.

While over at my brother and sister-in-law's house one day I made a comment about how, all over their house, there are pictures of her and her sisters and no pictures of me. I was joking around of course and this led to them taking a horrible picture of me and my brother and placing it in prime location for people to see how fat I am. Skinny people will put up the worst pictures of you because they don't see the difference between a good fat picture and a bad fat picture. To them, you're just fat. In the right light and in the right black clothing, one can almost look skinny fat...that's a good picture.

So, until I can afford to have every picture of me ever taken and photo-shop it so my head is proportional to my body, I will forever be, the marble and the watermelon.


Annie said...

I don't think hilarious is the word to cover my feelings for this post. I laughed out loud--I almost peed my pants.

Melissa K said...

OK I'm at work and crying I'm laughing so hard. Great post! I know what you mean about skinny fat, I always try to kind of twist my body so I look a little less um... grand I believe is the word.

littlem said...

Whoa. You get the Maximum Contrast Award. I requested a trim (as opposed to a cut) from my hairdresser the other day because, as I told her, I didn't want to look like a golf ball perched on a basketball, but your analogy just stomps on mine. :D

Christi Nielsen said...

You might want to give the artist credit. That's Jenny Saville. One of my favs!!

Anonymous said...

Looks like you just did

Esther said...

For some weird reason, that picture reminded me of the movie Saw .

Jan said...

I have a pretty big head, so even at my fattest, I never quite felt like that. Of course, when I'm thinner, I feel like "an orange on a toothpick" a little bit. It is also kind of embarrassing that I have the same hat measurement as my husband. He's 6', a guy, I'm 5'1", and he is not a pin head or anything.

Anonymous said...

Add my long neck to a normal sized head and a big body and I end up looking like a Star-bellied Sneech! So I really hear you. :-)

Anonymous said...

This is so painful.

I want to add some reassurance, though, and it's not a comforting lie, either: the camera angle is still an angle. When you look at those photos and say, "Geez, do I really look like that?", at least half of the answer is NO. You don't.

I've wrestled with this a lot on my own account--I'm not photogenic even at slightly lower weights--but what's really convinced me of it is my husband, a pretty big guy but not at all out of the normal range. He's a good-looking guy, too, even by the warped standards of popular culture: good face, beautiful eyes, a lot more vertical than horizontal despite having more body fat than the standards really like.

But he can't see it. He feels huge, grotesque, bloated, pick your unpleasant adjective. And I have to admit that the photos of him make him look heavier and less proportionate than he is, by a long shot. They don't really show his color, his animation, his expression (because he also can't produce a natural expression when he knows he's being photographed), what he looks like from behind or in motion. So when I look at my photo and say "Do I look like THAT?" the answer may or may not be YUP, SURE DO. But I know good and well that he doesn't look like those photos show. So my money's on that being true for all of us: the camera really does add weight, and disproportionacy (I'm sure that's a word) and unsatisfying features of all kinds. Swear to God it does, even before you add in all our hangups about this stuff.


duenneschen said...


is that a sign of good self-esteem, thinking ur skinnier than the photo say?

The Today show did a segment yesterday on digital cameras that not only make you skinnier but reduce fine lines. Isn't that amazing? I was quite surprised at the amount of weight that was taken off by the camera, it was impressive.

GoBetty said...

To me, this post was more poignant than hilarious, dunno why.

Also, I gotta put it out there: to those who feel compelled to leave essays in Comments... I simply do not have the required attention span. It's crazy, I know, because we just read a whole post gosh darnit! But when it comes to Comments, my eyes like them short and crass.

Coley said...

I had a picture taken for work once where I looked greasy, sweaty and extremely fat (I am fat but even a camera should learn to be nice!). I asked that it not be included in our annual report. I was told by one woman 'But that's what you look like.' Argh!

On your guy though if he likes skinny he'll always want you to get skinny. Too much pressure! I only started to lose weight when I got a guy who loved fat! Maybe I am just contrary.

PastaQueen said...

I must confess, I actually did PhotoShop a picture of myself and a friend once so we both looked at least 50 pounds lighter. I couldn't stand how fat I looked otherwise. The hardest part was getting rid of the double chin.

Anonymous said...

"Skinny people will put up the worst pictures of you because they don't see the difference between a good fat picture and a bad fat picture. To them, you're just fat. In the right light and in the right black clothing, one can almost look skinny fat...that's a good picture."

Hahahaha I got a good laugh out of that because I feel the same way!


littlem said...

"Add my long neck to a normal sized head and a big body and I end up looking like a Star-bellied Sneech!"


No stars upon thars. :D

Man, what we go through for the glamour.

Wendy said...

the trick I learned to taking a nice picture: get comfortable with having your picture taken. if you are UNcomfortable with it, it shows, and painfully. practice alone or with a friend, but get more comfortable with having your picture taken - do it funny, do it sexy, make crazy faces, find the right body angle, the right face angle - just PLAY for a while til you get comfortable! truly, that comfort shows in pics!

Bronwyn said...

I too found this post poignant, not funny.

The body in the painting is actually a bit like mine.

Would you like some hints for looking better in photographs?

* wear makeup, especially eye liner, mascara, & lipstick which is a deeper colour than your natural lip colour (& eyebrow pencil if your eyebrows are light or thin). I suggest this because unless the photo is taken with professional studio lighting, colour seems drained from the face.

* lift your chin slightly & let your mouth fall open just slightly, even if you're not smiling (helps your face look relaxed).

* lean your face & upper body forward a little at the waist, put your shoulders back, pull your tummy in.

* don't let anyone take a photo of you from low down - this includes anyone shorter than you - make them stand on a chair! You'll look better looking up than you will looking down, which emphasises double chins.

We always look at ourselves in group photos first, & we study our faces & bodies in mirrors daily, & we know when we're not looking our best in photos.

Coley, 'But that's what you look like.' is _such_ a _bitchy_ thing for her to say! You obviously weren't happy with the picture, & it just goes to show her low opinion of your looks, grrrrr. She'd change her tune if it was a bad photo of her.

I think Wendy has good ideas there, about playing with camera angles, expressions, etc.

An idea I've had but haven't used yet is to find great photos in magazines, & analyse them for various model poses, & try the poses all out, in photos of yourself.

Anonymous said...

Looking down also emphasises dark circles & wrinkles under the eyes!

only1 said...

Do I know your pain. Little head, big body.

Tim PFB said...

That picture is kinda scarey... Great article though. You write well. I found it very interesting.

Anonymous said...

wow, I thought I was the only one in the world who had that same exact thought about myself...small head, big body. I always try to poof up my hair to make my head look bigger...it doesn't help...
But another thing...I don't ever seem to have that though about anyone else, that is why I thought it was only me. I never look at someone and see small head, big body, so hopefully no one sees me that way.

Kate said...

I laughed in cameradic glee at your post.

That "small head/big body" thing is a medically proven fact in my case. When I was born, my head and my ribcage had the same measurement. The head is supposed to be bigger to ease the birthing process (although, in my case, that was moot - I came into the world ass-backwards and I've been that way ever since).

Short attention span said...

Amen to what gobetty said...keep responses short and snarky!! Start your own goddamned blog if you're going to respond that often and for so long!!