Many of us are guilty of this. You know what I’m talking about it. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. A lot of my friends have done it. Heck, I do it all the time. The other day, on the way to a funeral, I did it in the car – multiple times. Why? I dunno. Boredom? It was, after all, a long drive. Anxiety? I was, after all, going to a funeral. Narcissism? Oh, yeah. Of course, that’s it. After all, I’m a blogger. We’re all a bunch of self-absorbed sociopaths who don’t care about anyone else but ourselves. It’s all about me, me, me! Right? Is that what you’re trying to say?
Okay, I guess I could have involved my husband. He was in the car. Driving. Also bored. Anxious to be meeting everyone in my entire family – at once. I suppose I could have shared my attention with him. That’s what you’re thinking. Except he hates for me to do that kind of thing to him when he’s driving. He puts on this extremely tense, unsmiling face every time I attempt it. He says it distracts him. It could cause him to have an accident.
So I take photos of myself instead. No, not naked. Wait, what did you think I was talking about? Perv!
I was talking about the coy photos I take of myself. The ones that are shot from peculiar perspectives so that my chin looks like an acute angle in a geometry text book, and my eyes are the size of ostrich eggs. The ones intended to make me look waifish, like Kate Moss back in the day. Yeah, I hear you. There is no angle out there capable of making me look like an emaciated super model. Okay, what about elfin? For you literary types, how about a Dickensian orphan? Still don’t know what I’m talking about? Does this help?
Yes, I realize the hoops and frilly jacket make me look like an orphan who fell off a pirate ship. Why are you so judgmental about poor children who are all alone in the world? Vagabonds who are manipulated into stealing for a living. Innocent souls forced to labor 18 hours a day in a workhouse. Not working for you, huh? How about this, then?
Don’t you dare think a dirty thought about her. Yes, she is lovely. Yes, I wish that Orlando Bloom was single and really a long-haired, towheaded elf named Legolas Greenleaf who would marry Kelsey so that she could live in a fabulous Tolkien-esque fantasy world. And we’d be in New Zealand right now, hangin’ with Peter Jackson and Frodo, filming The Hobbit. Still don’t see it? Okay, I’m pulling out the big guns. My friend, Vivian, is the queen of the shot-from-above photo. In fact, she can make her chin virtually disappear. She’s perfected this technique by practicing – a lot. And if I looked like her, I’d take my photo all day long, too. Naked. That was for the perv who asked earlier.
This brings up those photographs people take of just a portion of their face – like the other half of their cheek is a State secret requiring security clearance and a pat down by a guy in a black suit wearing a suspiciously large wristwatch. My friend, Transman, who records his life as a transgendered dude on his blog, The Adventures of Transman , also likes to take photos of this nature. I’m pretty sure that if you visit Wikileaks, the other half of his photo is now available – and someone’s going to prison over it. You can’t just release that kind of thing willy-nilly! The plans for of a U.S. nuclear arms facility could be tattooed on Transman’s other cheek. Or the recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnut batter. Or the lyrics to Johnny Cash’s last original song – yet to be recorded by anyone.
Partial portraits seem to be all the rage with the advent of Facebook, Flickr and cell phones that not only make and receive phone calls, but take photos, whiten your teeth and poach a perfect egg – simultaneously. I’m a big offender in this category as well. What? You never noticed my Gravatar pic?
The above photo is one I took the day of the funeral – with my cell phone. I was wearing glasses for three reasons:
1) I think they make me look smarter. As the first person on the paternal side of the family to graduate from not one, but three, institutions of higher learning, there is a lot of pressure on me to live up to that image and appear to have earned those degrees. I suspect my relatives know that sexual favors and envelopes packed with greenbacks delivered to the appropriate people at matriculation were also involved, but I like the delusional little world I live in. The one in which I play a genius and Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory, people!) is my best friend.
2) They are slightly tinted and protect my eyes. I have perfect 20/20 vision and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. Did I mention that I’m 43. And have perfect vision. Jealous much?
3) The frames are thick, black and totally nerdy. Translation: I think they make me look like a hipster. As I foolishly revealed earlier, I’m 43. Looking hip at this age is becoming increasingly difficult. I’d get a blue Mohawk – because everyone knows that anyone with a Mohawk is hip – except I have really large ears that stick out. A lot. This is why I can communicate with bats. And yes, they want to suck your blood, but it’s bad for P.R. Anyway, I digress. The Mohawk is a hair style that tends to emphasize large, prominent ears, and it’s really hard to feel hip when some teenager is sniping behind your back, “That’s what you’d get if Marge Simpson and Barack Obama made it.”
Regardless, I don’t think the glasses worked for their intended hipster purpose. Why? As soon as I posted the me-in-glasses photo as my blog Gravatar, another blogger, Gemini Girl In A Random World asked me if I wanted to be her blogging “bestie.” Now, that was truly a nice thing to do. However, I think that she was subliminally influenced by my photo, which I can’t help but notice makes me look a tad bit like Mayim Bialik’s character, Amy, also of The Big Bang Theory. What does that have to do with Stacie Chadwick wanting to be my “bestie?” Everything. Amy is obsessed with Sheldon Cooper’s neighbor, Penny, and refers to the girl as her “bestie.” It’s practically her catch phrase. Coincidence? Perhaps. I’m certain Stacie would say that the two things are completely unrelated. But like I said…it’s subliminal. She doesn’t realize that it’s the glasses and the unflattering photo that drew her to me and to use the word “bestie.” Still think I’m crazy? Check out this photo of Mayim Bialik as Amy:
Now imagine her without the lower half of her face. If you need to, you can scroll back up and take a second look at my photo. It’s uncanny, I tell you. By the way, Stacie Chadwick is now my blogging bestie. She swears my resemblance to Amy has nothing to do with it.
So whatever happened to the full frontal portrait? And what is it in our society that is bringing about its demise? Drought, disease, war and global warming can safely be ruled out – and that’s a concern. Normally, everything can be blamed on one of these four factors. Thus, we must look outside the box. Or perhaps, inside our very souls.
Why would any of us want to hide part, but not all, of our face? Have we compartmentalized the visage above our necks in the same manner we have our bodies for years? Shoulders: slumpy. Tits: perky. Abs: non-existent. Hips: child-bearing. Butt: bootylicious. Legs: very long. Feet: hidden by non-existent abs. For millions of years, it’s been completely acceptable in many cultures to hide certain body parts. In fact, in most cultures, it’s required. If the fire department ever had to knock out a wall in your home in order to remove you from it – and nothing was on fire – it is preferred. Even public beaches have an unwritten canon by which one must abide. For example, if you think you look good in an itsy bitsy thong bikini – and your clothing size is higher than the average age of a kindergarten student – beach etiquette says, “Uh-uh. No way.” Butt floss is perfectly acceptable under clothing, but flossing in public is considered rude. And, no, the spray tan you got before you headed down to Florida doesn’t make you look any thinner. Being tanorexic doesn’t make you anorexic. Unless it was applied by Dumbledore himself, it’s essentially paint, not magic.
Few cultures require the covering of the face. If they do, it is usually for religious or modesty reasons, not because millions of women don’t like their shriveled upper lips or think their nostrils are too bulbous. If a person is unhappy with their facial appearance, it is the custom in some societies to change the offending feature or features with plastic surgery. The results are generally pleasing, thus making it unlikely that the person will feel the need to hide his or her face.
Of course, there are always exceptions. And in some cases, society, as a whole, may wish someone would hide part or all of their face – despite them having had plastic surgery. The fact that the person refuses to do so suggests a strong need and desire to keep the facial features revealed, if at all possible.
So the question remains why someone would not photograph their whole face. The following possibilities remain:
1) They have deep, permanent scars from a werewolf attack. A full frontal portrait would both reveal the scars and serve as a manner in which to identify a serial killer who murders once every blue moon. Okay, every full moon, but blue moon sounded so poetic.
2) The person is actually Two-Face from Batman and he’s trying to find love on Match.com. Even comic book villains need affection. Except who’s gonna answer your ad when your profile photo looks like this:
I don’t care how much you claim to love romantic walks on the beach, gourmet cooking, giving foot massages or socializing with super heroes, most single girls out there are turned on by a little mystery. And if they can see what’s wedged between your molars even when your mouth is closed – technically, anyway – it can be a deal killer. While most women appreciate a sinewy man, none of them want to actually see the sinew. Yes, there’s a difference.
3) The person is hiding a deep-seated duality (i.e. split personality) and displaying both sides of their face in a single photo is like making them face (Ha! A pun – it’s like I’m pun-ishing you. Oops, I just did it again. On purpose.) the reality that two people are living in a their single brain. This is akin to two people sharing one of those tiny Ikea store dioramas that masquerade as examples of apartment living. Someone like Mel Gibson. For years, he seemed like your typical Hollywood actor: charming, normal, Jew-loving and Holocaust-believing, but it turns out that once the star has a few shots in him, he morphs into a bigoted psychopath who no longer believes in history. From the photo below, it appears there may be yet another personality swimming around in that space between his ears.
4) The person held the camera too close to their face when they took the photo, resulting in only a partial portrait. The result is regretted, but they didn’t take another shot, so they post it anyway because they have low self-esteem and aren’t the perfectionists they should be. I know. This theory is extremely unlikely.
5) They have short arms…and thus held the camera too close to their face when they took the photo, resulting in only a partial portrait. Since God loves short people best, they are forgiven and the discussion is closed.
6) They have a deep-seated hatred for one specific facial feature, but are too deep and non-superficial to ever consider plastic surgery. They probably live in Portland, Oregon. Their favorite song is by Phish. It is also likely that they are over-educated, liberal and poor. The reason that they’re poor is because they spend all their money on organic food and that shit is pricey. Thus, they suffer through their pain and compensate by taking only partial portraits of the facial features they like. Bragging about the fact that they will never be the kind of idiot who’d get Botox is a pastime.
7) They think partial portraits look artsy, edgy and hip. And they are…if you’re artsy, edgy and hip. Me. I’m 43. We’ve already had this discussion. This is my attempt to look all of the above.
I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking I look like a corpse. If I wanted to act, this could be my headshot for my audition as Dead Hooker Number 3 on CSI: Special Victims Unit. Either that or a mannequin – a really creepy one that comes to life when its owner is asleep. One that has a knife that flashes in the candlelight. (Don’t ask me why they have candles lit! It’s ambiance.) My eyes are all glassy and I’m working the Clockwork Orange lashes. If I was humming “Singin’ In The Rain,” you’d all be running your asses off right now.
If you’re 19 and gorgeous, you can pull the partial portrait off. You can also wear a plaid shirt and let your hair just hang and not wear much makeup – and look perfect. If she had a pair of thick, black nerdy glasses on, Kelsey would be the ultimate hipster. If she was dating the lead singer of The Decemberists, she’d be a legend – and she could borrow his thick, black, nerdy glasses. Instead of mine. That’s a lie. She doesn’t borrow my glasses. She lives in another state. She’d probably like me to buy her a pair of thick, black nerdy glasses, but her birthday isn’t until August. And she’s hip enough as it is. Anyway, I really want her to end up with Orlando Bloom.
Likewise, the partial photograph works well for women well over 19 who are also stunners. Again, my friend Vivian is a perfect example. I’m not sure why she chooses to hide any part of her face, but it does, indeed, serve to make her look hip. Which is probably why she dates a much younger guy who’s an artist. And she hangs out with really hip, artsy types. And goes to lots of hip, artsy events. Okay, I hate her. Not really. Hate is a strong word. I reserve that for Will Wheaton. If you were Sheldon Cooper’s best friend, you’d understand why.
During that car ride I mentioned earlier, I tried to take an eye photo. I wasn’t trying to copy Vivian because I hadn’t yet seen the above photos, but I was still very desperate to appear hip. My attempt wasn’t quite so…well, cool. Perhaps because it came out blurry. Now, there are a certain number of fuzzy, yet hip, photos out there. This isn’t one of them. In fact, the first thought that popped into my head was Cyclops – as viewed by a person who doesn’t have 20/20 vision. Like me. Jealous, yet? Hey, I gotta work the one thing I got goin’ for me. The eye shot also accentuates the Tammy Faye Baker mascara I was rockin’ that day. What? Doesn’t everyone get super dolled up for a funeral?
When it became clear that my eyes are scary as opposed to hip, and best hidden behind thick, black, nerdy glasses – even if they make me look like Amy Farrah Fowler – I decided to focus on the lower half of my face. My lips, after all, are generally considered one of my best features. Naturally full and always balmed or glossed, I’ve often been accused of having them enhanced. Which is funny because I was going to have anything enhanced, there are so many other places I’d start. But I guess I’m a bit Portlandia in my attitude towards plastic surgery, so I’m all natural. Still, the fact that people have thought my lips were fake does raise a red flag. Do people say that when your lips look gorgeous…or Real Housewives of Orange County-esque. This photo answers that question.
Lord, I look like I’m auditioning to become one of the Jolie-Pitt clan. Angelina…you can have a full-grown child with big ass lips like yours, but you don’t have to get pregnant. And I’ve already been to college. And I’m already married. With cats. You could have grand cats. And I’m weaned. Very important to know when a potential child has lips this big. And open. Like I’m ready to suckle. So gross. No wonder that perv asked me if I took naked photos of myself. Okay, to make up for scaring you with my photos – several times – I offer you my version of an apology. Remember those plastic surgery freaks that society wishes would cover up, but refuse. Wouldn’t it be better if we didn’t have to see full frontals of them? Just for you folks…
26 thoughts on “The Demise of Full Frontal”
Okay, most of the pictures were artistic and all but two exhibited beauty. Why did you give me a better than 99% chance of nightmares tonight. Jocelyn Wildenstein was enough to start the nightmare that has something to do with a plastic surgeon and a sharp X-Ecto knife. I can barely deal with that one. But you had to throw in Carrottop who adds a dimension of over madeup nurses assisting aforesaid plastic surgeon. Even when I know they’re coming they give me the jimjams.
Are you suggesting that any of my photos exhibited beauty? Purr. Purr. I like you, Tomwisk. Okay, I’m married. Can’t do that, but I can feel happy that I’m not as repulsive as Carrot Top.
Great post. I myself, am a right side of my face person. I look like hell from the front and from the left. I only look like partial hell from the right.
I definitely have a good side too. But I think I left it somewhere. Certainly, I couldn’t find it in any of those photos.
I like the picture of you in glasses. You look great, very smart and artsy; but not like Amy Fowler of the Big Bang Theory. Half of carrot top is just as scary as a full frontal. The “tan” woman on the beach is a bit scary too. I think my dream catcher is broken so I’m a little worried about tonight.
You’re awfully sweet. Are you sure you aren’t my sister-in-law?
Yep. Those glasses really make you smart the headband too.
I tried the camera angles tonight. Something crazy to do around 1 AM on a Saturday morning. I don’t think any shots really worked for me. Maybe one or two were all right. I certainly didn’t get any half face shots that were decent. I’m actually liked some with my eyes closed. But, I looked just plain scary in some – most of those are deleted. Oh and I didn’t have any horrible carrot top nightmares. My dreamcatcher is carrot top proof. Maybe it has something to do with Gingers having no souls. His soul can’t travel around to haunt people’s dreams. In which case the verdict is still out on the dreamcatcher’s effectiveness. Just a thought for those curious about souls and other weird things.
I knew you were my sister-in-law. Only she would know about gingers not having souls. That will be a future blog post, by the way, and then everyone will know, but at least they’ll be warned. I want to see these photos. I’m having a hard time imagining you taking your photo like that. You’re not nearly narcissistic enough for that.
Yea Cristy, you do look good. But I am sure you’re not fishing for image compliments 🙂 enjoyd it!
More like trolling for compliments. Actually, I didn’t expect any. I figured I’d be deleting comments about how hot my niece is. No one’s allowed to look at her that way. Except Orlando Bloom…once we get him a proper divorce and he passes my extensive background check. Thanks though…you gave my ego a boost!
Thank you for this. I believe you’ve captured a lot of our same thoughts and outed us as shutterbugs who turn the cameras on ourselves from all sorts of angles, shareable and non-shareable. Thank you for including Transman, an old friend of mine who I care a great deal about. And thanks for the intriguing photos – now you’ll have us all breaking out the cameras today and looking for yet another angle. 🙂
I just want to say that hipsters were totally over full frontal before the rest of us got over full frontal. Insert your own ironic myspace page link here.
Your perspective is fantastic
Such funny observations! Love that you’re about to be adopted into the Jolie-Pitt household… but sad for your husbands and cat who will surely miss you. Man, that carrot top is scary no matter how you dice it (note the double pun of ‘what happens to a vegetable’ + ‘another bad comic’, all rolled up into the word Dice, and I wasn’t even trying!). I don’t think I could get any of those angles or partials to work for me… it seems like distance and the “retouch” iPhoto are the only worthy self-portait tools in my bag. But now I’ll have to try some of your suggestions… BTW I don’t think your eyes look like ostrich eggs, they’re beautiful!
Oh, please, you gorgeous creature – you need no funky angles or retouching. Plus, you’re very punny – always a plus. I knew I liked you.
I love your observations, as a vertically challenged person who stubbornly clings to her full frontal pics while playing tug of war with her ever-so-witty Brit husband, I beg of you, keep posting.
Thank you. I can’t be stopped. It may be possession or psychotic episodes that keeps the words flowing, but I refuse to medicate with anything other than vodka, so the words continue. Glad they make you happy.
Love you, right back!
Are your eyes really that green? Are they super-cool bionic contact lenses? Camera lenses? Lenses into your soul? It seems, that as blogging besties, I should know the answer, so please LMK so I can check that off the list of the “things you really should know about you blogging bestie” quiz. If I had to guess I’d say camera lenses for sure.
The pics of you and your adorable niece Kelsey are great. Everything else? Totally freaks me out (including Amy Fowler and the “normal” Mel Gibson, but not Vivian). Also, a couple of those gravatar pics are borderline pornographic. Not yours. But still, I’m wondering if you’ve been getting strange search engine terms popping up in your stats, like, “I love porn”? And on that note, have you considered putting “porn” in your tags? I have, but I’m afraid the negatives might outweigh the positives or that I might attract pornographic gravatars. Still, I’d like your opinion.
I DID find your gravatar pic interesting when I saw it in my quest to convince you to be my bestie, but mostly because I could immediately tell you were someone who had three degrees. How, you ask? 1. Fake glasses 2. Accessory headband that isn’t really being used to keep hair out of your eyes. 3. The whole 1/2 face indie, artsy look just screamed uber intelligent and cool. Just like you discuss in this uber intelligent and cool post.
BTW, I almost went to law school. But I changed my mind after Mom paid my tuition deposit. I instead decided to move to Chicago and live with my long-distance college boyfriend. Before living together, we hadn’t spent more than 48 hours in the same space. So our decision to cohabitate was a good one.
It was a short-lived thing, but had I not lived in sin, I wouldn’t be here now, typing random gibberish to my blogging bestie when I should be asleep.
My eyes really are that green. Swamp water green. Lucky me. Think of a bog and my eyes will pop into your brain. Think of moldy bread and there they are again. Nuclear waste…you got it. I know, it’s a gift.
I had not thought about using “I love porn” as one of my tags a) because I don’t want people to know about that addiction, too; b) I’m thinking about starting up a business in which I re-sell all the VHS Kirk Cameron “Left Behind” movies as the end of the world nears and my target audience for that endeavor is decisively anti-porn; and c) I was hoping to keep the pervs away from this post so that I wouldn’t get too many creepy comments about my niece. This is why there is a naked Ken doll featured front and center and not a naked Barbie.
I’m glad that you didn’t go to law school because…. Oh, just trust me. I’m sure I like you better this way, bestie.
The beautiful thing about living in sin is that your Pentecostal relatives who sit in judgment are sooooooooooo happy when you finally do get married. It’s all they can talk about. You go from zero to hero. Plus, while Matt and I lived in sin, my dad and step-mom refused to stay at our house so that they would not be viewed as supporting our pagan lifestyle. Matt’s response to this threat: Really? Promise? After about five years, they caved. Matt was disappointed. Suddenly, there was no really good reason to stay unmarried.
BTW, the headband DOES indeed serve to keep my hair out of my eyes. I’m growing out one of those “pixie” cuts – which by the way are only intended for actual pixies, you know – little fairies – and my bangs are straight and mid-cheek length and always in my eyes. In fact, the temptation to simply cut them off is so great, I project that onto others. I am constantly thinking that an Edward Scissorhands-esque person with blades for hands is going to simply walk up one day and snip my bangs off – and then I’ll have to start the entire, painful growing out business all over again.
I blame the new generation of tweens for teaching me that above the head photos make you look skinny, or, at the very least less fat. I just hate meeting up with people I haven’t seen in a decade and hearing them say “You don’t look a thing like your Facebook photos.” I sit quietly for a good 15 seconds thinking about them clicking *like* on my photo and what they must think of me now. In person. Then I respond – “Oh, I know. You’re talking about the-above-the-head-shed-fifty-photo. My niece taught me that. I can teach you if you would like.” 🙂 I mean, honestly. A few extra pounds (50) doesn’t make a person look completely different, does it? ha ha!
Another fantastic blog. Thanks for sharing your genius.
I love you. Someone who called me a genius and it wasn’t an insult. Awwwwwww. In my case, the above-the-head shot makes my ginormous chin look small. This is important when you’ve got a chin so large that when Jay Leno sees you, he stops, points and says, “And they make fun of ME?” I never thought about the possibilities with shrinking the rest of my body. They’re endless really. Now, even though I have long arms, I suspect some kind of crane might have to be involved here. You may be onto something. Perhaps you should open a photo studio specializing in FB headshots for chubby ladies. If I didn’t know your secret already, I’d totally sign up.
Your niece looks like someone I wouldn’t want to mess with!
I like the whole me..:)
Nice photogging though!!!!!!
My license plate? BIZINGA. I feel you.