Me in sixth grade, circa 1976
Every family has its own philosophy and tradition when it comes to Picture Day. As I walked my kids up to the school yesterday morning, we saw little girls with big curls and dresses and little boys in ties with slicked down hair. I've seen a lot of adorable photos of kids all gussied up thusly, but that's not how we do it. First of all, I'm just not that organized. But more important, I decided back when our oldest was in elementary school that I wanted my kids' photos to represent who they really were that year.
(Our son, Daniel, last year in third grade. I love this photo a) because you can tell he has lost patience with the photographer, and the look on his face slays me; and b) he's wearing his Zelda shirt.)
(I have no idea who this kid is. I just found her photo via Google. But I feel bad for her.)
Now, I usually am on the ball enough to make sure the kids have had a recent haircut and are wearing something clean. But as far as dressing up, I've gone from minimal dress-up--encouraging a polo shirt or turtleneck--to just letting them choose their favorite (non-holey, clean) shirt. That way, when I look back through a photo album in years to come, their images will reflect reality.
I've come to the same position when it comes to my online presence. Back in 2007, when I started blogging, I was a lot more cautious about the image I thought I was projecting. Did I look successful? Composed? Smart, interesting, creative? I crafted my posts pretty self-consciously, with an eye toward projecting a certain image.
But over the course of the last six years, I've seen that what I respond to in others' posts is authenticity. Honesty. Plain speaking. The heart-to-heart. I've realized that when people confess their faults, I almost always love them more, not less. And I can't be the only one, so I've chosen to be more secure about letting my own weaknesses show--at least a bit. No one likes an over-sharer, after all. But no more gussying up online. It's just me these days. And that feels fine. It's still nice when the image is flattering, but it's easier to connect with a little bit of reality, don't you think?