A few weeks ago I had a guest post on She Got Married. I appreciate that Emma gave me the opportunity to post, although she mentioned in the post and in her e-mail to me that she was disappointed I wouldn't share any pictures of myself and Mike. (I did send her one picture, of our art project, but she didn't post it for some reason.) So I thought I should devote a post to talking about the issue of photos.
It's possible I will decide to post a picture of myself in the future, but for now, these are my reasons not to:
- Semi-anonymity. I am a semi-anonymous blogger, which means, for me, that my friends and family know about my blog, but none of my coworkers do. I try not to write about work too often, and never anything really negative, but I do write about a lot of private things like sex and religion that the people I work with don't need to know about. If one of them were to stumble across my blog, they might eventually put two and two together, but putting a picture of myself would mean they'd identify me in about .02 seconds. On the flip side, I share my first name and my husband's name on here, but no one else's. This blog is out there so you can read my thoughts and have a conversation with me, not so you can get a complete picture of my entire life and track me down in person.
- Snap judgments. Whether or not we like to admit it, I've taken enough psych classes and read enough books to know that people make judgments about you from the moments they see you or meet you. I much prefer to have my words stand on their own than for people to filter them through preconceived notions about my personality or my lifestyle because of a picture of myself. If you want to make a quick, dismissive judgment of me, at least do it based on what I've written and not because of my skin color or my hair color or the expression on my face.
- Vanity... or lack thereof. For pretty much all of middle school and high school, I considered myself unattractive. Who doesn't at that age, right? Yeah, but... seriously. I was the only girl in my group of friends who didn't get asked to dances or "asked out." And my guy friends made it pretty clear that physical attractiveness was high on their list of requirements, which meant I had good reason to believe that no one found me attractive. At one point I considered getting surgery on my large nose (I didn't), and my mom, probably trying to be supportive, helped me plan for it, which confirmed my suspicions that everyone agreed on my lack of attractiveness. It wasn't until I was pursued by Mike in college and told many, many, many times that I was beautiful, that I started to believe it. Still, posting a picture of myself just opens up all sorts of concerns and self-consciousness. And while I know that simply by having a blog I open myself up to potential trolls and other rude comments, at least I know that if someone wants to rant and insult me by calling me ugly, they're doing so just out of their desire to be hurtful than any actual assessment of my face.
- Lack of good pictures. This is silly but true. My Facebook picture is still a picture from our wedding two years ago. The picture I use for professional needs (LinkedIn, our website at work) was actually taken by a friend at a "photo shoot" my matron of honor arranged for my bachelorette party. Pictures of me from the past two years pretty much fall into two primary categories: Candid photos where I'm not smiling, or group photos where I'm outside with sunglasses or squinting or my face half in shadow. So I have no really good recent photos.
- My relationship with photographs has changed. In high school, I was the group photographer among my friends. I wanted to major in photography in college (that's its own long tale). I took lots and lots and lots of photos. Then Facebook happened when I started college, and suddenly everyone else was taking a million photos to post on Facebook. And I just stopped. At some point among the people I knew, photography had stopped being an art or a talent and had become synonymous with "OMG I have to document every moment of my life." Mike also got me to question a lot of the cultural norms around photographs, like how people didn't use to smile for posed photos and now it's expected, or how someone will stop a group of people who are in the middle of a conversation or doing something fun and have them freeze for a picture. All of this is not so much a reason for not having a picture of myself, but it's a reason I don't post photos of my weekend or my vacation.
- I used to have a photo blog. It ended badly. My senior year of high school, I had a greatestjournal (which doesn't exist anymore) where I posted my digital photos to share with friends and family. This was pre-Facebook, and it worked great -- I just had to give people the URL and they could visit the site and see my pictures. The summer after I graduated, I went on a mission trip with my church, where I was matched up with people from all over the country on a small crew that did work on a local family's home. At the end of the week, I gave everyone on my crew the link to my photo page so they could see the pictures I posted from the week. I'm not sure if anyone visited it except for the man who was our crew leader (all crews are one adult and 3-4 high schoolers), who commented on my post and thanked me for sharing the pictures. Then I went off to college and continued to post pictures for my friends and family. Then the crew leader started commenting on my posts... and it just weirded me out. He was probably a perfectly nice guy, but why did he keep checking back to see my pictures from college? I stopped posting pictures on the site. Then, later on, when I got prints made of my digital photos, I went back to get my captions from the site to jog my memory about the various photos, and found out that greatestjournal had been shut down. I found out that of all the possible journal sites I could have picked, I chose the one site that went down completely and left no traces. That whole experience turned me off from the idea of sharing my photos on the Internet.
What are your thoughts on posting pictures of yourself online? If you have a blog, do you include pictures of yourself and what's going on in your life? Does my decision not to post pictures affect how you see my blog?
One final note: If you are really dying to meet me in person for some reason, I will be at the 20 Something Bloggers summit the weekend after next. You don't have to be a 20-something to come. I hope to meet some of you there!