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After some considerable deliberation regarding the proper style that I wanted, I got my hair cut the other day. Mind you, I am fussy about my hair. I won’t let just anyone work with it, so I go to an upscale Aveda salon located in the more “poshe” area of Louisville, where I’ve become a loyal fan of Carrie, who has cut my hair the last two or three times. She and I have a good rapport, she seems to know what I like, and she does a good job.

I got a nice medium-length bob with bangs.

Photo on 4-24-13 at 3.26 PM

I then posted a self-taken photo of myself with the new ‘do on Facebook to show all my friends:

Gin medium bob cut

My friend Bridget immediately responded with a comment telling me to

Smile, darn it! 

Here’s the thing…

I don’t like to smile in pictures. I don’t like having my picture taken to begin with. I don’t think I look good in pictures, and I don’t like the way I smile. Frankly…I hate my smile. I think it makes my face look all scrunched up and funny, my eyes get all squinty, and you can see my crooked tooth. I’m self-conscious about that crooked tooth. I didn’t get braces as a kid, and as a result I don’t have a nice glamorous set of choppers. Instead I have a snaggle-tooth that sticks out and announces itself to everyone. So I tend to be uncomfortable showing my teeth in a picture.

But since Bridget insisted, I felt obliged to accommodate her request:

Gin medium bob smile

It was interesting to compare the comments to the two pictures. Everyone agreed that I looked better with a smile. Perhaps the most revealing comment came from my friend MoonRose, who had this to share:

When you don’t smile, you look like you are in your sixties. When you do smile, you look like you are in your forties. The smile takes twenty years off how you look. You definitely need to smile more often. 

Wow. Twenty years with just one photo.

And for those of you who are wondering…I was born in October of 1958, making me 54.

And to think that when I don’t smile, I’m adding at least six years to my age. Eek!

It’s not only the haircut that has me thinking about the concept of beauty and youth and smiles and photographs and the like. It was perhaps precipitated by an article that was recently sent to me by my cousin – an article dated from June of 1976, written about me when I graduated from high school – the first deaf student to do so at William Henry Harrison High School. The article included a picture of myself at the young age of seventeen.

As I stared at that picture, I began to compare it with a recent (pre-haircut) picture of myself taken for a work ID. When I put the two of them side by side, the similarities were pretty amazing:

Slide1

Wow.

I have had high school and college chums tell me that I really haven’t changed, that I still look much the same as I did back in the good ole days. Of course I would laugh and dismiss their statements with a “you’re too kind” sort of remark. But looking at these pictures, I can’t help thinking that there’s some truth to what these folks have been saying. When I remarked on this to a couple of friends, they all told me that I haven’t changed that much and I still look the same. Interesting thing is how several of them remarked that I still have that same sweet smile.

Crystal did mention that I have the same head tilt. I think I was born with that head tilt, Sis.

So I have been doing a bit of thinking lately.

Posting these pictures of myself with my new haircut made me think about the new Dove commercial that is making a sensation – how women view themselves and their own self-image.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this article that recently appeared in the New York Times.

When I look at pictures of myself, I see all the negatives. I start thinking about how I would like to get rid of those bags and dark circles under my eyes, how I would like to remove that double chin, how I’d like to fix that damn crooked tooth of mine.

My own self-image could use some work.

In the Times article, it mentions that only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful.

That’s sad, and yet I think there is a lot of truth to it. I certainly don’t look at my pictures and see a beautiful woman there.

I find myself wondering how many of my friends feel the same way when they look at pictures of themselves.

The harsh reality is that our friends can tell us how beautiful we truly are until they are blue in the face, but until we start to really believe it ourselves, such words seem meaningless.

We need to change our own self-image.

We need to see ourselves as beautiful.

If you have not seen the Dove commercials about self-image and redefining beauty, then I suggest that you take a look at this one…

Then go look in the mirror and tell yourself how beautiful you truly are.

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