There’s a reason the picture of me on my About Page was blurry. It’s because I couldn’t be bothered to get a good photograph of myself. And so I used my cell phone to take a picture of only me from a group photo of twelve friends. I meant to get a headshot, I just wasn’t making it a priority. But when the North American Review wanted to include a photo, along with my bio, when they published my essay, On Writing and Distractions, on their blog, I felt ridiculous sending them my blurry picture.
I’d talked to three photographers and got prices for headshots and yet I hadn’t scheduled a sitting. What was stopping me from getting my picture taken?
At first, I thought I was just being lazy, but then I realized it was something more.
I came to this: I wasn’t taking my career, or myself, seriously.
In second grade, I wrote plays. Not only did I write plays, I gave myself the lead part. I was boisterous and confident. That year, on my report card, my teacher wrote, Corie is a flirt.
I was humiliated.
My teacher reduced the relationships I had with the boys in my class to flirtatious, instead of acknowledging that I was both writer and director of my own plays and that I was in charge.
I was the Lena Dunham of my generation!
In fifth grade, my teacher assigned me the role of “The Heart” (underscoring my compassionate nature, a much prized quality in girls) in our, not written by me, school play. It was a no-speaking part.
By the time I got to middle school, I no longer performed in plays. Somewhere along the way, I faded.
In the Wall Street Journal essay, What ‘Boyhood’ Shows Us About Girlhood, Dr. Sharon Marcus and Dr. Anne Skomorowsky point out how Samantha, the young girl in the film, at first, dominates, teases and outperforms her brother, Mason. Samantha is outspoken and confident. She challenges her controlling stepfather.
In adolescence however, Samantha begins to “disappear.” She speaks with uncertainty and develops a nervous laugh.
Mason, on the other hand, develops nicely. He learns to speak with assurance. He is full of ideas.
At school, Mason is asked questions like: What can you bring to it that nobody else can? He is encouraged to express his individuality. His father tells him, I believe in you.
And Samantha is asked: Do you want to be a cooperative person, who is compassionate and helps people out? Or do you want to be a self-centered narcissist?
Gillian Flynn, the author of the novel Gone Girl, explains that she wrote the book to counter the notion that women are “naturally good” and to show that women are just as violently minded as men are.
I think Flynn tried to do more than that.
Amy, the female protagonist in the novel, says “Nick will spend the night of our anniversary buying these men drinks, going to strip clubs and cheesy bars, flirting with 22-year-olds…”
It seems clear that no woman would appreciate that behavior from her spouse and yet Amy says condescendingly about herself, “I am being a girl.”
When did being a girl become a bad thing?
After a few years, in an unfulfilling relationship (not a spoiler since you learn this on page 24) Amy, educated and competent, literally disappears, a metaphor for Amy losing herself, figuratively unseen.
Pop culture shines a stark light on girl culture and how girls are encouraged to take a backseat to boys. We learn to make ourselves less visible.
Yes, I was raised with Carol Brady as a role model, and yes it is true things have changed for girls to some extent, but not enough.
There’s only one way around this issue, and that’s through it. Girls can’t be afraid to be seen.
I ended up booking an appointment for a headshot shortly after coming to the realization that I should start taking myself more seriously.