on Selfies….

My daughter running track...empowering

My daughter running track…empowering..she won’t like this picture!

“Please don’t take my picture while I am running, Mom.” says my daughter at her track meet. “Why?” I ask. “Because I don’t look good when I am running.” She retorts. Um, ok, I kind of get that…but I took pictures anyway. I am a mom and proud of my daughter and I must take pictures at these events.

It was kind of funny coming from her though…queen of selfies…goddess of random group pictures! The selfies and other pics got out of control and would flood our i-phone photostream. This is not unexpected for a young teen girl these days and we sat her down and explained about taking proper pictures and the less is more attitude of taking pictures of ones self.  I wanted her to make sure she wasn’t posting ALL these shots and wondered if she was looking for people to tell her she was pretty when she posted them. At one point I asked her not to take those selfies at all.  I didn’t like them- it made me uncomfortable. I didn’t want her to come across as a needy teenage girl.

Me at 9(?)..funny at 13 I kissed that boy with the blond hair! My brother is number 0 on the right.

Me at 9(?)..funny at 13 I kissed that boy with the blond hair! My brother is number 0 on the right.

Then I got wondering—how would I have been if we had had cell phones with cameras built in to them when I was young. I can’t imagine it.  Typically I despised pictures of myself… I still do and am usually behind the camera not in front. I have an old yearbook where I colored the picture of myself out in black marker – I must have looked really bad that year!  My childhood pictures are of a plump little girl whose mom always told her she was beautiful but the neighborhood kids reminded she was fat daily. Even without the taunts I would have known that I was chunky. I didn’t do anything about it until the end of high school where I decided to diet for college.  My body changed but my mind never did. For years I just saw a fat girl..one not good enough. I recall taking a selfie as a teen. My boyfriend was away at college and I made my friend use my small kodak camera to shoot a few pictures of me (is it still a selfie

Early teen years..I was always conscious of my weight. Photo on left was taken by my Nana at her apartment...photo on the right was on my dads wedding day to my my step-mother. My gunny sak dress was all the rage. Thats my first real boyfriend on my left. My best friend on the right (we are still very close) and my brother far right.

Early teen years..I was always conscious of my weight. Photo on left is me on the right and my best friend to my left(we are still close) and was taken by my Nana at her apartment…photo on the right was on my dads wedding day to my my step-mother. My gunny sak dress was all the rage. Thats my first real boyfriend on my left. My best friend on the right ,and my brother far right.

then!?).  I sent the film away to be developed and back in the mail I got a few sorry looking pictures of me in a cowboy hat, t-shirt and shorts trying to look fetching for my boyfriend.  I am sure I sent him one or two despite how bad I thought I looked. Then later in life in my 20’s I did the same thing again…trying to impress yet another boyfriend who never really appreciated me for who I was…he was always focussed on looks and always made sure I knew who he thought was hot – I did not make that cut.

It would be years before I ever could look at a photo of myself and not feel I looked hideous in it. Often those pictures I liked were ones from years before – pictures at the time they were taken I hated but seeing them years later I thought I looked ok.  It’s taken many more years to like myself for who I am inside and not just outside and I am a work in progress – and I am still pretty camera shy- or vain..or insecure. Here I am at age 50 and I still scrutinize pictures taken of me especially because the wrinkles are coming faster than any cream I buy can stop them.

So is it really a bad thing to let our kids take selfies and umteen photos with their friends? My initial reaction to my daughter was to just quit it and don’t take those selfie shots at all – I felt she didn’t need to put herself out there looking for likes and comments that could bring her up or down. But what did she think I was telling her? Was I sending the wrong message?  Then I realized that maybe I was projecting myself on to her. She isn’t the same young insecure girl that I was. Maybe she wasn’t really needing validation or if she was -as many teen girls are- maybe it wasn’t going to crush her if she didn’t get tons of likes or if (horror) someone decided say something unkind in her comments. I liked that she and her friends are comfortable in sharing their photos. It is such a main stream thing to do today… even if its a bit overwhelming to me. I decided as long as she stayed in tasteful boundaries why not let her enjoy taking and sharing some pictures. I think these pictures of her friends and her selfies show a freedom of self that I never felt I had.

My daughters artistic selfie

My daughters artistic selfie

What I see in her pictures is a beautiful girl inside and out. I am not sure that she doesn’t scrutinize herself – obviously she does because she was fearful of pictures taken of her while she was running. Though I think her comfort with herself is leaps ahead of me. Her love of taking iPhone pictures has grown to a love of photography. I gave her my Canon and she has been off taking pictures of her friends and of our farm and many other things . She has a great eye and a creative flare. I hope she wants to take her talent further but that is up to her.

Sometimes I am so quick to throw my adult experience and opinions onto my kids as if I always know whats best (and I really don’t know much!) – but I think there is much we can learn from them. Each generation brings a new strength and though kids still have their dramas and problems I see a greater sense of self and less of a need to conform to a certain image. So I am going to take a page from the younger generation and try to break through some of my bonds and embrace my whole self and not shy away from showing the real me inside and out. We never really stop growing up.


My daughters photography


Some of my daughters photography work


My selfie -no makeup


My daughter running – I think she looks like a powerful young woman.


My daughters selfie she took in class where she is not supposed to be taking pics – but oh well!

on smells….

I hate my nose! Not because of how it looks but because of how it works. One of the many wonderful symptoms of getting older and going through the “change” (what a dumb word – what am going to change into?) is change in sense of smell.  It does not happen to all pre-menopausal and menopausal women but it did happen to me! I wish I could report that I have have less of a sense of smell – but no mine is an increased sense of smell so I smell everything. Everything good and everything bad. AND some things that used to smell good to me now make me sick! Its like having a weird super-power.

I cannot handle perfume- you don’t even have to have much on and I have to mouth breath near you. I can’t be in an elevator with you. I can actually smell the smell under the scent of the perfume- a chemical alcohol smell.  It happens with hand soap too. Cleaners that I used to clean with now make overwhelm me. It was so bad for a while that I would break into choking and coughing fits. I had to consult a naturopathic doctor who has prescribed things that have helped a good bit- at least I can now sit in a restaurant near a person with lots of perfume on and not feel horrible symptoms coming on.

I once had to tell a PA in one of my doctors offices that her perfume was making me feel bad. I had been assigned a appointment with her and I could smell her coming well before she got to me. Once we were locked into an office together I was becoming overwhelmed by her huge amount of perfume. I was fearful that I would have to leave the room if the choking began. So I blurted out something about being sensitive to her perfume. I think I was pretty was nice about it but did she really need that much perfume?

If wet laundry sits in the washer for a tad too long I can tell by the smell after it comes out of the dryer. So I smell all my clean laundry and toss it back on the dirty pile if i detect even the smallest of that musty been in washer too long smell. I have tossed whites back in the laundry because I can still smell the bleach in them.   I can smell things my husband cannot. He may think I am nuts but he has thus far kept it to himself and has remained the patient one of the two of us. He has even scoped out stores for me to see if they are too smelly for me to enter (sorry Pier One). I guess this odor sensitivity can come in handy in the event of a small gas leak or hidden rotting potatoes in the cupboard.

I can walk through groups of people and smell the bathed and unbathed, new nail polish, hairspray, perfume, bad breath, cigarette smoke….is this what it’s like to be a dog? I have read they smell a thousand times better than we do- obviously they are better equipped to handle this than we humans are!

My teens suffer too.  I have no problem telling them if they stink- better me than someone else right?  Since they play sports and have PE at school they stink often.  God love teachers who have to deal with that all day! Thankfully I only have one kid who I need to remind consistently to bathe(thats another story). The other two don’t have to be told they smell to initiate them to take a shower.  I seem to be less sickened by natural body scents than perfume or chemical ones but i am still ultra-sensitve!  I forbid my daughter to use any perfumes or even really strong body lotions because of my sensitivity. I sense her frustration and I am sure she sneaks a bottle of pretty smelling lotion out of the house in her backpack in the morning. It just better be worn off before she gets home! I guess this sensitivity could come in handy if they ever try to get smoking or drinking past me.

A good thing about this sensitivity is that I cannot clean with any strong cleaners. So unless i am using vinegar and water I can’t clean. This means the teen labor has to be assigned cleaning tasks. My husband has always done a good deal of cleaning so he has taken a bunch of jobs I used to do in addition to his but there is enough left for the teens to get to work. They do not like this much but I assure them that they will thank me for this when they are out on their own. I don’t think they buy this at all.

I am told that this keen smell sensitivity can dissipate over time and I hope that is true because this is not a superpower I want to keep!