My Photoshopped Self

You hear it all the time. Be yourself. How hard is it to be you? And what exactly does that mean? Is it okay to throw a filter on an image and crop it so that you look a little prettier? What about when you ask someone to re-take a picture cause you forgot to suck in your belly? I don’t really have the answer. In fact, I only began to question this  recently.  Being myself in photos has always been pretty simple. Until I learned one day how easy it is to present a different version of me. A Photoshop version.

A few weeks ago, I needed a professional picture for my book. I contacted my neighbor, Mr. LeeVon, a professional photographer. One Saturday, we walked around our shared apartment’s backyard and took a few shots. Here’s the one that I chose:

be_yourself1

Looks okay, I thought, until Mr. LeeVon said, “Okay. Gimme a minute and I’ll touch these up for you.”

“Oh wow,” I said, “You’re gonna make me all fancy!”

A couple of hours later, my phone vibrated while I stood in the Target checkout line. It was my Gmail. Mr. LeeVon had sent the Photoshopped picture.

“Oh my gosh!” I showed my husband. “I look like a celebrity!”

He squinched up his face and said flatly, “He needs to try it again. That looks fake.” be_yourself2

My eyes dropped. And then my smile.

“Show K—,” he directed.

I couldn’t stop staring at the transformation. “Look at this!” I said hoping for some semblance of validation.

“Oh no, mommy. It looks…I don’t know. It looks…plastic. That doesn’t look like you.”

At this point I was a bit annoyed. All I had said was that I looked like a celebrity. “Well, what should I tell him, then?”

“Give you some natural lines. Make your face look more real,” my husband offered. “It doesn’t look like you,” he reiterated. And then, “You can’t have a book about being yourself and the picture doesn’t even look like you.”

Okay. He had a point. How could I promote the idea of “being yourself” and not look like my-self. I had a brief internal struggle. Why not just use the original picture? Why have a touched up image at all? I asked Mr. LeeVon to try it again, repeating my husband’s words almost verbatim.

Here’s the revision. be_yourself3

My husband liked it. My daughter liked it. I liked it. And so did 100 other Facebook friends. Secretly though, I felt a little fake because picture number one is how I really looked, even if there is very little difference. I also began to understand how quick it is to become filtered and phony. All it takes is one slightly altered pic and a little external validation.

Creative Blogger Award

creativity-awardThanks so much for nominating me Marquessa! If you haven’t already, then please, please check out her blog: http://marquessamatthews.com/. She has a fully-developed character named Alejandro that you’ll dream about later.

As part of this award, I’m expected to provide seven random facts. Here goes:

  1. I am a Kanye West fan. And now I’m convinced I’ve known something the world just figured out because he was recently hooded, Dr. Kanye West.
  2. My new favorite album is Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. The title, cover and lyrics are the most creative I’ve experienced in a long time.
  3. I wholeheartedly believe that I can do anything that I set my mind to. This has gotten me into some precarious situations.
  4. No matter what is going on in my life, I make time to work out at least four times per week.
  5. I eat some type of cooked egg every single day.
  6. Sometimes I think I should’ve been a social worker.
  7. I’ve never watched Scandal or The Walking Dead.

Here is my one nomination:

http://allthatchatter.com/

Now, here are the rules for you to pay it forward:

  1. Thank the person who has nominated you and add a link their blog
  2. Share a list of 7 things that says something about you
  3. Nominate any number of fellow bloggers, adding a link to their blog
  4. Share these rules with them.

Spread the love people!

The Liebster Award: (drum roll please)

I would like to thank Marquessa from http://marquessamatthews.com/ for my nomination.

This was totally unexpected! But I’m excited to participate.

Here are my 11 nominees from the blogs that I am enjoying now due to the Writing 101 Challenge.
If by chance you have been recently nominated for this award, please pass along the kudos to other deserving bloggers. Some of my nominations might echo yours, but that’s cause they’re so awesome! I’ve chosen people who have been both supportive and who have also pushed me to become better writer (explicitly and implicitly).

My answers from Marquessa’s questions immediately follow and my new questions are last.

http://finkelsteinandsons.com/
https://kmcmcurtis7.wordpress.com/
http://allthatchatter.com/author/tolive4u/

http://prayyior.com/

http://pricelessjoy.co/

http://ishmusing.com/

http://mikestacey.com.au/

http://smileyyearwood.com/

http://idonthavethemap.com/

http://afthead.com/

http://dadojodest.com/

Answers to Marquessa’s questions:

Why did you start your blog? Initially, I started this blog because I wrote a book of quotes and my editor suggested that I blog, “not to sell your book, but to hone your craft.” At first, I thought I don’t have time to “hone my craft,” but I did Writing 201 and then 101 and now I understand exactly what she meant.

Besides your children and/or significant other, what has been your greatest accomplishment in life, big or small? Attaining my PhD is by far the greatest accomplishment in life. And it’s not for the reasons that people might think.I learned so much about life, energy, the law of attraction, patience, control, discipline that I don’t think I would have otherwise. It brought many unexpected lessons.
What is the most exotic destination you have been to or plan on going to?
Puerto Vallarta was pretty exotic. My husband and I went for our honeymoon 19 years ago. A few years back, we took a cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. It wasn’t the same as flying to a destination and hanging out there, but it was pretty exotic, still.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Hmmm…I believe in energy at first feel. I think that you can feel as if you’ve known the person your whole life and that you’re supposed to be together and through that feeling, you fall in love…at first sight.

What is the greatest tip you have learned from another blogger? I have learned…from Marquessa – to take your time to tell a story, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.

If you could be the main character of a book or movie, who would you be? I would be Nina in the movie Love Jones.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? Be yourself chick! 100% of the time, be yourself. Those who like you, will do so because they actually know you and those who don’t, well, it’ll be okay.
What is the nicest thing that anyone has ever done for you?
My goddaughter expresses her gratitude for me all of the time. There are many times when I’ve returned home from work to find a mailed, thank-you card. It is usually completely filled with all of her thank-yous past and present. Every time I receive one, it warms my heart.
What piece of advice did you receive when you were younger, did not believe and now believe to be 100%e true?
“It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” I do believe that people will listen to anyone if their disposition is inviting and they have a bright, sunny smile. I don’t think it’s right, but I do believe that it’s true.

Take-out or home-cooked meal? Depends on the time of year. Holidays…home-cooked meal. Any other day (lol) take-out.

What’s your favorite television show right now? Super Soul Sunday – I’m not particularly religious and it gives me the freedom to believe what I believe without the doctrine associate with it.

OMGosh Marquessa! Thanks again for extending my experience even farther than I would have imagined.

KG’s Questions (first answer that pops into your head and then explain):

  1. Plastic or paper?
  2. Book before movie or movie before book?
  3. Oprah or Ellen?
  4. Writing in public or writing in your home?
  5. Married or single?
  6. Dog or cat?
  7. Healthy lifestyle or who cares?
  8. City or Suburbs?
  9. Limited choice or complete freedom?
  10. Rainy day or snowy day?
  11. Writing on a device or writing by hand?