A newfound appreciation for the art of the selfie
God, help me. I’m taking advice from a Facebook meme. It wasn’t even one of those funny memes that shows cats and goats playing hopscotch or even an adorable meme with cuddling baby bunnies. No, the meme that burned into my very soul was one that said, “Take the picture.”
Well, that was just one-third of the meme. I think the whole thing said, “Eat the cake, buy the shoes, take the picture.” And since I always eat the cake, that part of the meme didn’t apply to me because cake is a constant in my life and has, to date, never let me down unless it's been frosted with that horrible whipped topping concoction. That should be a culinary crime, you know, the whole non-buttercream-icing thing. Note to the world — buttercream is the only cake frosting that matters.
As for “buy the shoes,” I must be low on estrogen or have an inferior X chromosome because not only have I never understood the female shoe fetish — I can’t imagine owning more than a dozen pairs — but I also refuse to ever wear shoes that hurt my feet. A stiletto masochist I am not. This doesn’t mean I’m a flip-flop free ranger, because I firmly believe that most of the time full foot coverage is very good thing. (Please, people, get over your naked toes.)
What did call out to me was “take the picture.” Now, I know that “take the picture” probably means document the beauty in your life, but to me it meant take your picture, like actually be in a picture. Getting my photo taken is something I avoid with a vengeance. I hate it.
I know this makes zero sense because one of my pastimes is wearing my reading glasses while I gaze into a lighted magnifying mirror and looking for rogue chin hairs. Go ahead and laugh, but it’s not like your family is going to say, “Hey, when did you start growing a beard?
Here’s what happens: One day you’ll walk out of an important meeting, get into your car, look into your rearview mirror and see a chin hair that’s so long it deserves its own name and perhaps a monogrammed pillowcase.
This is my way of saying it’s not like I don’t look at myself, but for some reason I hate any documentation of my personhood. But after I read that meme, I did some deep thinking. So what if I’m old-ish? I should take my picture more. I should celebrate me.
I decided the perfect way to kick off my picture-taking enterprise was to go on a selfie spree while on vacation with my family. Now, up to this point I was very anti-selfie. I thought of the selfie as one of the surest signs that society was headed straight to the narcissistic dumpster. And the selfie stick, that ridiculous piece of hardware that makes it easier to take a picture with a crowd — or let’s be honest here, get a more flattering angle of your face — was an instrument of Satan.
But I flung all that aside in a quest to celebrate my aging visage. I was going all in. I was going to selfie so hard it would even make a Kardashian blush.
I started my selfie journey at the airport. Nothing says “glamour photo” like the fluorescent lighting by Southwest Gate 36 at KCI. Sure, I looked horrible, but I looked happy. Never mind that my teeth looked yellow — and I’m not going to lie; that almost took the bloom off the selfie rose because, dang it, I’ve been using very expensive whitening toothpaste.
I choose to ignore my flaws and my jowls. What’s up with jowls sneaking up on your face? It’s like overnight I was suddenly related to Jabba the Hut. Last time I checked, the beast was not on our family tree. Maybe Ancestory.com doesn't track relatives from other galaxies.
Whatever. I gave myself a jowl pep talk and after taking 20 more selfies discovered an enthusiastic smile was like jowl camouflage. Call me happy face because this girl’s going to be smiling a whole lot more, and it will have nothing to do with my mood.
It didn’t take long for my family to notice that I was becoming Mrs. Selfie. My husband and son could not care less, (full disclosure: My son did ask me if I could be a little less obvious) but my teenaged daughter was mortified.
Breaking news: Mothers aren’t allowed to take selfies.
I tried to explain to her that she needed to think of it as not so much her mother taking a selfie, but that I was entering an era of deep self-exploration.
Her reply to that was, “I didn’t think it was possible, but that creeps me out even more.”
This time, I got to roll my eyes at her. As the vacation continued, I became a flagrant selfie-taker with absolutely no shame. It was liberating. I took selfies in the car. I got a really good one with my head out the window. Not to brag, but the lighting was excellent. I took selfies on the ski slopes, selfies on the couch, selfies at the 7-11, shopping selfies and extreme close-up selfies.
Sometimes I could even cajole my family to take a group selfie, but only if no one else was around to witness it. According to my daughter, the only thing getting her through my selfie surge was the fact that I wasn’t posting any of them to social media because that would be “so wrong.”
I knew I had reached the selfie summit when I proudly announced to my family, over dinner, that I was going to publish a selfie coffee table book of our vacation. (I told you I was going full Kardashian). Two out of three family members began choking. Another sat there, mouth agape. I can confess that publish maybe a misnomer because all I plan to do is make one of those photo books online that you can then print. Who cares if all they were processing was selfie and publish? Their bad.
At the end of my vacation selfie splurge, I felt invigorated. I had crushed it! I had taken the picture and then some. And now as I scroll through all the selfies on my cellphone, I don’t see a woman aging. I see a smiling woman having a blast annoying her family.
What's not to love about that?