Organic Headshots

Dear Abby,

I hate every photo taken of me.  I try not to be “that person” who hides behind the largest object I can find whenever someone whips out a camera, but I can’t help it, because I know that as soon as I see that picture I’m going to cringe and maybe even throw up a little in the back of my mouth.  I just started a new job and they told me to go to a photo studio to have a photo taken for their website.  I’m TERRIFIED.  I know I’m going to hate the photo AND it’s going to be on the company’s website for everyone to see.  What do I do?


I Liked Maybe One Photo of Me Back in 2002

Dear I Liked Maybe One Photo of Me Back in 2002,

First off, you’re not alone.  I hate photos of myself too.  And I used to ask myself “why do I hate this photo?” every time I felt that cringe feeling.  And the answer was a laundry list of things that looked like they were “wrong” with the photo: my nose looked too big, the dark circles under my eyes, the lines on my forehead, the bulge of a few extra cookies at my midsection, even that wrinkle in my shirt suddenly became proof that I was an unkempt troll standing guard at a bridge asking people 3 riddles before they can cross.

I challenge you to ask yourself a new question whenever you feel that cringe feeling and taste a little vomit at the back of your throat.  That question is: “why do I like this photo?”  When you’re looking for something that’s “wrong” with something, you’re going to find something wrong.  So try looking for something that’s right with the photo.  My smile looks genuine.  My hair is a pretty color.  My posture looks relaxed.  My tie brings out the color of my eyes.

If you’re having trouble with this thought experiment, try imagining what someone who cares about you would say about the photo.  They’d probably say that’s the person I know and care about and that’s all I see when I look at the photo.  They’d probably say “what bags under your eyes?” or “everyone has those lines on their forehead,” or “my Grandpa Nylund always said the air is free you might as well have a big honker to suck up as much of it as you can!”


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