Four of the most frightening words one can read these days are “You have been tagged.” Those of you who are members of Facebook will know exactly what I’m talking about. For those who are not, allow me to clarify in simple terms: A photograph can be taken of you, posted by a friend of yours on this social network, and referenced so that just about anyone can see it, regardless of how good or bad you look. You then get a cheery email announcing “You have been tagged…” which basically means “Let the embarrassment begin!”
Remember the days when all photographs were printed? You had to physically drive to the shop, drop off your film, fill in a slip, hand over substantial cash, pick up the photos, only to thumb through a possibly blurry selection with decapitated bodies scattered throughout the group. That was money well spent. Kids today don’t know how good they’ve got it with digital cameras. On the other hand, when you DID pick up those hard copies, you could squirrel away/discard/burn any unflattering moments captured in time along with the negatives and no one need ever see proof that you could fit an entire hamburger in your mouth. These days your impersonation of the Hamburglar can make the rounds on email faster than you can say “Ronald McDonald.”
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is an affliction whereby the subject has a skewed view of their appearance. This can range from being dissatisfied with the mirror’s reflection, to being absolutely crippled with depression over what they perceive to be ghastly flaws. I suffer from the exact opposite. I think I’m absolutely stunning when I encounter my visage in the glass, only to be horrified when I’m faced with pictures from a night out. My chin rivals Leno’s, I have a smile like The Joker, my noggin dwarfs everyone else… Friends always give soothing comfort saying “Don’t worry, you don’t look like that in real life,” but then why does everyone else in the photos look exactly as I see them in person? I can’t be the only one whose natural beauty simply cannot be captured in 2D. Where is James Cameron when I need him?
It is said that some tribes refuse to have their picture taken because they fear it will steal their souls. I frankly think they’re just more savvy than the rest of us. I’ll try that the next time. When a friend brings out their camera I’ll merely put my hand up in a modest gesture and say “I’m sorry, but my soul is not worth a snapshot.” Knowing my acquaintances as I do, my statement will be greeted by blinding flashes in rapid succession and peals of unsympathetic laughter. I surround myself with good people.
You gotta feel sorry for the famous of today with their every move recorded for posterity. Heaven forbid they should pile on the pounds, or be caught crying, or sans makeup. The stars of this world were not made for the harsh unforgiving natural light of daytime, although it should make the rest of us feel good. If Demi Moore is looking rough in front of the lens then surely we all have a chance with Ashton Kutcher! Seriously though, if I was caught in one of my choice outfits that I wear when I’m just nipping out to the car by a rogue photographer (and I’m sure my editor would take great glee in plastering it over the page – I know her sense of humour) I would probably book a flight to Thailand on the same day to “find myself.”
The upcoming generation is going to have to deal with baby pictures being much more accessible by potential romantic interests. Hasn’t that always been the worry? Bringing a boyfriend/girlfriend to meet the parents for the first time and suddenly the album is produced filled with memories of the time you tried to wash your hair with spaghetti? All you had to do in the past was beg Mum and Dad to please keep such things under wraps, now you have to make sure that all digital traces are gone save on your own computer lest they go viral.
I have been tagged in loads of photographs on Facebook, particularly when I was significantly bigger. I also have a habit of remaining friends with ex-boyfriends, and so they are friends on my network. I wonder how many of them now look at these candid shots and wipe their brows at the relief of the narrow escape they had. I am now trying to pepper my profile with new pictures of my more slender self so I don’t look like I’ve completely let myself go.
I was very grateful to Stephen Clarke (photographer for Cayman Free Press) for taking some flattering shots of me for my weight loss article in January’s What’s Hot Magazine. I felt pretty vulnerable with only gym clothes and minimal makeup – exposed if you will. I asked him why I look lousy in photographs and others look great. Apparently some people are just naturally photogenic, their faces are symmetrical…basically whatever it takes I ain’t got it. I guess until 3D camera technology becomes the norm in the market, I’m gonna have to face the fact that my gorgeous puss will never be truly appreciated on celluloid. Maybe that should be my new business venture! I’m ready for my close-up Mr. Cameron…