I used to feel very ugly indeed: a photo essay
I’ve been considering writing a piece on this subject for a while, and was finally prompted to do so by yesterday’s post. But, this time, I’m going to see just how many words a picture is worth, instead of just illustrating with some as planned.
These are some I cobbled together this afternoon with GIMP. They don’t even pretend to be smoothly done. 🙂
Even knowing where it’s coming from now, I have to admit that some of these photos still make me cringe. I had to fall back pretty heavily on wedding pics, since I still tend to avoid cameras whenever possible.
Thayendanegea (a.k.a. Joseph Brant), and me.
With the right face shape and sufficiently crappy portraiture, you too can look like Mr. Potato Head with a squashed nose, squinchy eyes, and weak jawline. Yep, I really felt bad about my low nose and eye folds, worse the more I heard about how ugly they were.
The same applies to the physique. Looking unacceptably large by most standards of the dominant culture is very easy to do, with the proper build, as demonstrated by one of the guys from The Warriors of AniKituhwa and me 40 lbs. heavier.
Is either one of us ever going to look willowy? I doubt it. Svelte is better than strong, or so one keeps hearing.
Here is another example, with a couple of the other AniKituhwa dancers, beside my mom and me. The reception probably would have been more interesting if they had been performing. *g*
So much for the idea that women must be more gracile than men of the same ethnic group. It makes no sense. Amusingly, (red ochre painted) Bo Taylor, on the left, is some sort of distant cousin on my mom’s side. Not surprisingly, he used to play football. Most women I know with this kind of build have just gotten made fun of a lot for being big in a beefy way–and it helps me get honest-to-goodness stared at on the street and “sirred”, here in Greater London.
More perceived-as-unflattering close ups, with other people for reference. Playing around, this worked about equally well with Thayendanegea and the first AniKituhwa fellow. Yep, my mom and I both had about half our original allotment of eyebrows, because dark bushy eyebrows are definitely a femininity drag no-no.
Apologies to my stepdad, whose shoulders are still in the photo.
The past few years, I have not been happy to have started noticing some of the same pseudojowls developing on me, as the ones shown here on my mom and Graham Greene. They were not really playing Scrabble together at the reception, with Kaintwakon looking on.
Kaintwakon does not yet have the perceived-as-fat pseudojowls in this portrait, but that’s just the right kind of face shape to get them later!
This also works with the (mostly Iroquoian) paternal side of my family–whom I more closely resemble–and yet another of Thayendanegea. Note the foxy little chins and short necks, another combo which is frequently perceived as fat by people not built that way. Now I’m actually underweight, and still have the “double chin” from the right angle. This great-great-great grandfather opted for a beard you could hide a turkey in.
Judging by life portraits, Thayendanegea was also pretty low on melanin, as has always been common in the East. Barbara Mann, from a Grey Eyes Wyandot/Seneca lineage, has had plenty to say on this. Charles Willson Peale clearly depicted Thayendanegea’s pinkish skin and grey-blue eye color, very much like mine. (Here is a blond Onondaga kid who looks almost eerily like I did at that age, for that matter.) It helped a lot of our folks stay put, but is now considered prime evidence that we can’t be NDN at all.
Could some of the deluge of negative comments, which led me to actively despise my appearance for years, have been racially motivated? Hmm.