Saturday, November 6, 2010

This one is probably going to get me in trouble

First, let me say that I don't begrudge the photographers. They're just trying to make a living, and it's their job to make you buy stuff that you don't need. That's how our capitalist system works.

But I really can't forgive the couples who think they are so cool, so SASSY, so hip, that they need to spend three hours wandering around a farm or old mental hospital to get TOTALLY AWESOME engagement photos... Or trash-the-dress photos... Or look-at-me,-I'm-pregnant photos... Or see-how-small-and-tiny-my-three-hour-hold-baby-is?-Let-me-put-him-under-hot-lights-for-a-few-hours photos...

If you're on Facebook, you've seen these photos. And you've probably clicked through more than a few. And maybe at first, you thought, "Gee that's kinda cool." But I ask you to really take a moment and reflect on the statement that these photos make about the couple, or the mother, or the baby. Why do we, as human beings, feel that we need this stuff? We need to eat. We need to drink, and we need something to occupy our time. But do we really need to lounge half-naked in dim light for a guy with a telephoto lens to record the blue veins of our exposed pregnant bellies?

And what do you do with these photos? Create a shrine? I'm sure there are people who will read this post who have indulged in such a photo extravaganza who say, "Christina, you've got me all wrong. The photos of me and my fiancé taken at the run down steel mill are sitting in a box gathering dust. I'm not self-absorbed. I just got a little carried away."

Just because you store away these photos doesn't mean you aren't self-absorbed. Because, be honest, you know the photos are there. And on rainy days, when you're feeling a little glum, and you glance down at your middle-aged paunch, I can guarantee you're rummaging through the attic looking for those 21st Century Glamor Shots as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.

But what of the people who actually frame and hang these photos around their house? Have you ever visited someone who had these photos on their walls? A full-on collage of Barbie and Ken and their love, frolicking in Abercrombie & Fitch wear through a hay stack? Could you hide your snicker as you wandered past them? I mean, come on. Who does that? Who thinks, I am so cool, I just want to stare at my cool self all day long? If you're going to post these photos, you might as well go all the way and create an Andy-Warhol-esque wallpaper of your mug and hang it along an entire section of your basement. At least that would make an artistic statement.

And don't get me started on the whole trash the dress phenomenon. Just because you are standing near a pile of dirt does not mean you are trashing the dress. And if you spent four hours in hair and makeup before the trashy photo shoot, it is by definition, not trashy. If some woman decides to wear her wedding gown whilst standing in a vat of pig's blood, then that is, in fact, a trash the dress moment. And it might even be art. But donning your gown and walking on tippy toes through a horse barn does not qualify as such.

Here's the thing: Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you have to. True, no one is being hurt by a high-end photo shoot where the woman is rocking an astonishingly bright engagement ring. And I probably sound like a completely judgmental... Well you fill in the blank. But I do think it says something about our society and our priorities that we feel compelled to celebritize (I might have made up that word) every major milestone. It just feels like we're all a bit desperate. Like we can't be happy with what we have and we have to aspire to more and then show people how hard we tried to get there.

Notice I said we, because if I'm being totally honest, there's a part of me that looks with jealousy at those glitzy photos. Who doesn't want to feel like a model and have the photos to prove it? But that's just my point: We shouldn't have to feel bad that we aren't models. We are people, with cellulite and bags under our eyes and less than perfect hair. We don't need hours in a salon and hours in front of lens to feel good about ourselves. And we don't need to look like Brad and Angelina to feel fulfilled. In fact, if you asked Brad and Angelina, they'd probably tell you that being a celebrity isn't as TOTALLY AWESOME as it looks.

Being who we are should be enough.

Did this just turn into an episode of Oprah? It's probably time for me to stop typing now...

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