I’ve spent the better half of my life in front of a camera. And I’ve spent more time than that smiling. However, one thing I detest more than anything in this entire world is… “saying cheese” for a photo. I guess this attribute runs parallel to my inability to fake a dang thing, which is why I kissed the thought of an acting career goodbye only five minutes after the idea popped into my head as a potential profession. Just because people repeatedly tell you that they can read every single emotion on your face (so professional poker playing is also out of the question) does NOT mean you’ll be able to cue those same expressions on command. So yeah, keep this in mind if your Cosmo Girl horoscope details that you’re “made for the stage”.
Speaking of expressions, don’t furrow your brow. There’s no need to be concerned. I’m fine. I am not a miserable person. In fact, I giggle at just about everything, and smile through about 90% of an interaction with another human. That’s just me. Giving a disingenuous smile simply because someone tells me to? That’s not.
See! This is me, very clearly, showing my love for New York City and MTA. Either that, or the look on my face is a very literal representation of how I feel about MTA.
Unless I’ve had a bottle of wine, I say and do what I mean. My core value as a human being put on this Earth, expected to interact with other human beings, is to do so with full transparency. While some of my peers have mentioned that I place a little too much pressure on this practice, and ride my honesty horse a little too hard, it has reached a point where I don’t know how to be any other way. You know you have reached adulthood when you’re hyperaware of your own habits and have forfeited further resistance to the ones that have stuck. That said, this characteristic has trickled down to every tiny action I make. I refrain from delivering distracted “I love yous” to my partner. I no longer tell my friends that I’m sick when I don’t want to hang out, and instead crush their wild, tequila shot filled dreams by painting the honest picture.
Now, we circle back to the prime example. I don’t smile for a picture when I don’t want to smile for a picture. Sorry, not sorry.
I can take a guess as to what you’re likely thinking at this point. You’re probably like, “Okay, princess. Then what’s your problem?” At this point in time, we are accustomed to every article on the internet rounding out with an unhappy ending, panties being in a GIANT wad, and/or some sort of political message. So I understand if you don’t believe me, but I really don’thave a problem. For group photos, I’m completely AOK with staring into the lens, smile-less, if the moment isn’t right and laughter, or a show of teeth, isn’t naturally prompted. In the moment, it’s not a conscious thought, because I’m simply being myself.
Why ask someone to portray a figurative image for a literal image?
I draw attention to this talking point because a lot of people deem me a “photo ruiner”. I’ve been in situations where friends have indiscreetly displayed their annoyance towards me after a little photo session. And don’t even get me started on the verbal spankings I’ve received from my mom over the years.
The classic exchange we have after she waves the white flag, ditching further efforts to gain my cooperation: “Everyone is going to see your face like that when we send out the Christmas cards,” she says. “K,” I reply. That’s right. I was passive aggressively saying “K” before you could send it in a text.
An actual photo of me on Christmas morning.
So why are cheesers and photo takers so relentless with my kind? If Sally Sue strongly disliked caterpillars, would you harp on her for not wanting to touch one? It’s who she is. Sally Sue is uncomfortable around caterpillars, so you should respect her non-caterpillar affiliating wishes. Don’t make me feel like I should sacrifice my own natural instincts and authenticity to accommodate you. Caterpillar discrimination and not smiling for the camera aren’t serious issues that harm people. When you’re taking something as potentially permanent as a photo, some of us want to believe what’s emoted in it when we look back on it later. When I see a photo of myself laughing or smiling, I want to feel that nostalgia, not try to differentiate true happiness from “whatever” when sorting through 1,000 photos of me making the same cheese face over and over again.
Here’s the thing — just let people like me, and Sally Sue, live. You don’t have to try to change us. We actually like it this way. Even though it doesn’t look like it a lot of the time… we are just fine.