Chicken Lips and Hippos

Smile or maybe not…

A writer lived with the possibility of needing a decent photograph of themselves for a book jacket or a website. When you actually met an author or a celebrity in person, sometimes they looked nothing like their photo. That’s what I wanted. If dame fortune waited to smile on me until I was ninety, my jacket photo wouldn’t show it.

Fortunately, I had a sister who was a professional photographer. I’d observed her flawlessly edit out an ex-spouse and seamlessly add a polar bear to photos. Not in the same photo, mind you.

We decided on a head shot. Sis had her work cut out for her with head edits. I also didn’t want to obsess about the rest of my body or have time to loose weight. I was aging.

Sis told me to practice smiling. I’m not a sad sack or a bitch. Actually, I laugh a lot. When I smile, though, my eyes disappear. I look as if I am squinting in every photo ever taken of me.

“Can’t you sneak up on me and snap me with a normal face?” I said.

“Um, your normal face is kind of scary.” Sis said.

That might explain why the hubby was always asking me if something was wrong. Great, for my professional image people would think I was an eyeless monster withholding gas.

Sis also addressed my hair. “You have to do something with it. Did you comb it?”

“Yes, I combed it and flat ironed it and it still sticks out everywhere.” Maybe I  should hang upside down from a tree branch. It’d be like an instant face lift and would solve the hair issue.

 “Just practice smiling and keeping your eyes open.”

“Can I smile with only my lips?” I’m not fond of my teeth smile.

“You have chicken lips. Show your teeth.” I thought of wax lips from the candy store. I’d have to buy a pair.

Did you ever see the variety of exotic chickens with the weird feathered heads? I resembled exotic, snarling poultry with laugh lines and I couldn’t smile and see at the same time. Photos of me surely wouldn’t be posted on Sis’s professional website.

“Why can’t I post a photo of my favorite things to represent me, a candy bar and a margarita on the beach? What about a picture of my favorite Muppet?” My hubby called me Sweetums after an ogre with a sweet nature. Nah, that might be a tad scarier than my photo.

“Why don’t I take a photo of an animal and you can use that?” Now Sis was being sarcastic.

My family took an internet quiz to find your spirit animal. The hubby was a regal wolf. My daughter was an intelligent dolphin. I was a hippo. That’s right, Africa’s deadliest animal.

I didn’t get it. The only thing I had in common with a hippo was small eyes. Hippo’s mouths consisted of two feet wide lips and teeth capable of biting a crocodile in half. I had trouble eating candy apples.

“Remember the photo you took on our bike trip? I love that photo. Couldn’t I use that?”

“You’re wearing a helmet and sunglasses. You’re impossible.”

My attitude wasn’t a reflection of my sister’s professional ability. I just saw myself differently from a camera image of me. We needed a photo process that captured what was inside a person. There’d be no wrong judgments based on looks. Relationships would be easier. The voting process would produce results that really did have our best interests in mind.

“I don’t think I look like who I am in a photograph.” I said.

“If people have visited your website and have read your stories, they’ll know you’re not right.”

 I’m definitely buying wax lips and bringing my glasses with the bushy eyebrows and big nose to the photo shoot.

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