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Photographic fun

May 18, 2010

Another crosspost from DW/LJ, where I have gone into more natural hair acceptance discussion recently.

I set up a Fotki account for hair photos, as much for my own reference as anything else. 🙂 I also got Nigel to take some yesterday evening, which I put into an album.

The hair seems to be responding well to a lot more conditioning. I’ll be interested to see how the curl pattern develops as (a) it gets longer, and (b) I continue not abusing it! It was tighter as it got longer before. (Then I tried to comb it all out. 😐 )

BTW, that Bozo orange effect from the evening sunlight hitting it does look like what happens when it gets sunbleached (or, gods forbid, I try 20-volume peroxide on it). I used to get exactly that color every summer, especially from spending a lot of time in a chlorinated outdoor pool. Urgh. I was briefly worried that I inexplicably had splotches like that in my hair again, until I figured out it was from the lighting.

Most of the ones from the front did, indeed, turn out not quite in focus. That was not the only reason I did not include the few that were, however. Even knowing where it’s coming from, I recoiled in horror from all of them. It took some courage to ask Nigel to drag the camera out at all!

At the same time, I got very frustrated at the huge ball of internalized racism and fat acceptance* fail. It still frustrates me today. I did a post on this kind of thing last year: I used to feel very ugly indeed. It’s not like I wasn’t aware of what was going on well before that. Actually, in this context, a pair of the badly-GIMPed up pics from that post illustrate the point pretty well:

A group shot of my mom, me, and a really bad portrait of Thayendanegea/Joseph Brant tacked onto my stepdad's shoulders!
The same group shot of my mom, me, and the head of one Eastern Band Cherokee The Warriors of AniKituhwa dancer tacked onto my stepdad's shoulders!

That’s just the way my head, neck, and shoulders are made, which is not uncommon among people of my ethnic background. It still makes me cringe to look at my jawline in a lot of photos. Old training dies hard. And that’s before we get to the “squashed”, “fleshy-tipped” nose, “squinchy” eyes, and “chubby” (broad) face. :/ The kinds of insults I’ve heard have not been exactly subtle, but I sure have managed to internalize them anyway.

I am still impressed by the similarities between photographic portraiture that really makes me cringe and some really (sometimes purposely) unflattering historical ones:

1830s lithograph after 1806 Ames portrait of Thayendanegea/”Joseph Brant”, from Wikimedia Commons. Gotta love the overstuffed rag doll look, too. The original Ames portrait is the one I pasted on my stepdad’s shoulders, above. I also can’t help but notice how, in line with stereotypes, by 1830 he’s depicted as much darker-complected than in the earlier life portraits. (Charles Willson Peale’s one from 1797, in particular, though it otherwise looks like Peale was trying to paint an alien life form.)

I also got irked at continuing to go for the “perpetually surprised”, brows raised, expression in order to look like my eyes are open in photos. (I used to run around like that a lot of the time, and got headaches from it!)

As I recall thewronghands observing several years back about some of her own photos, flinching my whole head back from the camera does not help. At all. As epitomized by this one:

Me cringing back from the camera with my eyes shut and an anxious grimace

Yeah, the anxious expressions like I was expecting the camera to explode in my face did not help me enjoy looking at those photos. The ones in profile made me uncomfortable, but not nearly as much as the full frontal ones in which I was flinching. Seeing those expressions I didn’t even know I was making at the time disturbed me perhaps more than anything else. Obviously, some more work is needed on this stuff.

* I am actually verging on too thin to be healthy ATM, from the diabetes, but still automatically perceive some of my features as “fat”–and reacted very negatively to that. It’s not really a “double chin”, and so what if it were?! Grrr.

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