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Who? Who Do You Think You’re Foolin’?

February 6, 2010


My Grandmother circa 1930

Glamour shots are nothing new.  In the early part of the 20th century it was de rigeur to have a studio portrait taken in your Sunday best with your hair done up, giving a hint of a smile, and with that indirect gaze so indicative of the era.  For many a soldier in World War II, bunks and foxholes were adorned with these since they were the only photos of their wives or girlfriends.  Well, that and pin-ups of Betty Grable.  A sweet reminder of a world without Nazi soldiers and snipers. And an artform that died with the advent of colour photography.

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The 80’s brought another trend.  Teased hair, pleather jackets gripped haughtily with one hand, and more eye make-up than the woman at the Chanel make-up counter at Bloomingdales.  The photos were always taken at an over one shoulder angle and with a direct I-dare-you-to-come-hither stare. Don’t lie to me.  I know you have one of these photos squirreled away in your secret photo album of shame.

http://www.youtube.com/v/MYIt5Ez8nU8&hl=en_US&fs=1&

I’m not a prude by any definition of the word.  If you know me, you know I’m all good with sex, sexy, nude and naked.  I admire a good fine art nude and even a good boudoir photo.  There is a time and a place for these photos: lit by a flashlight under the covers of your bed when you steal a copy of Playboy from your dad; a gallery exhibition or museum show; or in a nice silver frame on your husband’s desk at his home office.  Heck, Dave’s got one of me on his bedside table.  However, the one place I do not think it is appropriate is as your profile picture on Facebook. I know you think it is, but you’re wrong.  I’m telling you this as your friend.

Maybe it’s just the women I went to high school with, but I suspect it’s not just an LA thang.  In recent months, much like the status updates with the definition of your name and profile photos of your celebrity doppelganger, women I’ve known for 15-30 years are swapping out their profile picture of their kids or dogs for a boudoir photo of themselves, many of them from yesteryear.  It has to be yesteryear because I know how old they are, and they are older than these photos. I also know that they don’t run around town in their silk teddies and corsets or with their poplin blouses undone to the belly button.  At least most of them don’t.

It’s not just that these photos aren’t true to these women’s everyday look that bothers me.  Heck my profile picture is a Mad Men cartoon.  Rather what confuses me is that this is how these women feel compelled to present themselves on Facebook.  Match.com or E-Harmony I can understand, but Facebook?  Facebook where you’ve friended your children?  Where you’ve friended your co-workers?  Where you’ve friended the other soccer moms in your suburban housing development?  Where you’ve friended a snarky bitch like me? Who are these profile pictures really posted for?  Your current partner/spouse?  The bitches in high school that made you feel insecure and awkward? Or that ex-boyfriend from high school or college that you have friended but don’t really exchange private messages, wall posts or Farmville animals with?  My money is on the latter, but then again, I’m a cynic.

My sisters and I regularly admonish my teenage niece when she posts photos or status updates on Facebook that aren’t appropriate for someone her age.  (The cost of having a Facebook account is that she must give all of us full access to her profile.  A price paid in embarrassment when one of us comments on her wall.) She, and many of her cohorts, regularly post content that they think is funny or is an inside joke, and they need to be reminded that not all of the 500 friends they have on Facebook are on the inside.  We tell our children to keep the details of their life that they share on places like Facebook to a minimum just in case some pervert comes looking.  We, and the evening news, remind them that colleges and potential employers will Google them and read their Facebook and MySpace profiles.  It’s the freakin’ internet after all, and people you know and don’t know are looking. Perhaps we should remind ourselves of this as well.

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This isn’t Dave’s Facebook profile picture, but I wish it was.

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