At least three times per day, complete strangers stop and stare at me, enchanted by my remarkably good looks and immaculate grooming habits. I sometimes go as far as to pull a hood over my head and hide my face behind over-sized sunglasses to avoid the inevitable awkwardness of when people mistake me for Marisa Miller.
Obviously, none of this is true. Not only do I leave the house on a daily basis looking rougher than a young Disney starlet on the fast track to rehab, but I am also so un-photogenic that at times, it can be startling. In fact, my 5th grade yearbook picture was so horrible that my mom cried when I showed it to her. She cried from laughing of course, but it was still quite a blow to my self-esteem. I wish I could find a copy of the picture, but from what I remember it could have easily passed for a public intoxication mugshot. I had one eye closed and the other eye mid-blink, open just wide enough to reveal a wandering eye. I’m pretty sure I had attempted a closed-mouth smile, a look I’d picked up from the back cover of Britney Spears’ …Baby One More Time album. Unfortunately, I don’t have the lips to pull off a closed-mouth smile, so I looked less like my teen idol and more like a constipated platypus.
I don’t know when my troubles with cameras started, but the first memory I have of my unfortunate relationship with flash photography is my 2nd grade family Christmas card. For the record, my family has not since taken a holiday picture, and I think my face has something to do with it.
The day before the photo shoot, my friend Megan and I were sitting on the top bunk of her bunk bed. While we’re still friends to this day, I must say that things weren’t always smooth sailing between us. You might have picked up on our volatile relationship if you read my Dear Diary…..Literally post. We had many a gruesome quarrel, ranging from which one of us would be prettier in middle school to who was stuck marrying Howie from the Backstreet Boys (my poor sister always ended up paired with Kevin, for reasons having to do with their enormous eyebrows).
Megan and I were notorious for bickering, but she always had the upper-hand. This was because her family understood the importance of Limited Too, giving her a clear advantage in the looks department. My mom refused to buy into the whole L2D2 fad and insisted on turning my sister and I into fashion icons via the Lands’ End catalog. While Megan sported the highly coveted glittery panda bear/polar bear/whatever animal was in season Limited Too graphic tees, I donned the more realistic versions…. more specifically, the types of wildlife shirts you can only find at aquariums, zoos and nature preserves.
Megan and I sometimes played a little rough, and by that I mean she beat me up on more than one occasion. The only times I would ever come out victorious were during our “leg wars,” when we would kick the hell out of each other until someone cried or fell off the couch. I’d prepare for these battles in advance by letting my toenails grow to an alarming length, allowing me to kick, slice and dice my way to victory. Unfortunately, my scrappy street style stopped working as soon as toe-socks hit the market.
However, my very least favorite form of Megan’s abuse was tickling. The day before the fateful Christmas card photo shoot, Megan and I were sitting on the top bunk of her bunk bed, discussing Jonathan Taylor Thomas and fighting over who got to be Sarah Jessica Parker in Hocus Pocus. A tickle war ensued, and as I was desperately trying to break free from her, I rolled right off the edge of the bunk bed. As I soared face-first towards the ground, I smacked my nose on the corner of a table.
Megan, her sister and my sister, Jessie, all sat in silence as I lay face down on the carpet. I didn’t move or speak for quite some time, so Megan was probably already fantasizing about all the extra playing time she’d get in our next YMCA basketball game (we often competed for point guard). After I realized I’d survived the fall, I said “JoJo go kaboom.” This phrase has been a family joke for years now, but at the time, it was the best sentence I could piece together while bleeding through my nose.
Needless to say, the next day I had a black eye just in time for our holiday photo shoot. To make matters worse, I insisted on wearing a black velvet dress that somehow had a matching velvet choker necklace attached to it. While my family members exuded merry, holiday cheer, I looked like the sick and twisted daughter they had adopted from the Adams Family.
Since that day, I have been plagued with horrible school pictures and an ungodly amount of bad Facebook pictures. My mom, a middle school science teacher, even exploited my unsightliness and included a picture of me in one of her lesson plans. The slides are about how organisms adapt to their environment, and the unfortunate consequences they face when they can’t adapt. I wasn’t aware she’d done this until I heard her chuckling to herself one day as she organized her lesson plans. Here it is:
Here is another example:
This is my sorority’s 2008 Bid Day picture. It was professionally printed and sent to the chapter members. I cropped it for your viewing pleasure.
Last, but certainly not least, here is one of my personal favorites. This was taken one night at my friend Brittany’s house. We were getting ready to go out, so I guess you could say this is me all dolled up. You’ll notice that I’m the spitting image of Lord Voldemort in lip gloss.
I’d like to say that this Lord Voldemort doppelganger was a one-time thing, but I somehow managed to look like him again this past Spring Break (this picture is from my Sensitive Toes post). I’m not exactly pleased with the recurring resemblance.