There’s one photo that encompasses my entire childhood (that I will not be posting here).
My stepfather was a professional photographer. He not only made it his living, but his hobby, so much so that we often had to pose for stupid photographs like the one I’m speaking of, which has me sitting, nicely dressed, backwards in a dining room chair, making me appear as if I’m on the back of a NYT bestselling crime novel I’ve just published to rave reviews. Not only this, but we actually had a large framed photo on our wall where my stepsiblings I all got two rows to ourselves to make goofy faces and then smile at the end, because that’s the sort of household I grew up in. Give someone an outside appearance at a happy family to cover up the inner turmoil. That’s the thing I love about photography, more than anything. IT FUCKING LIES.
This photo irritates me on a number of levels. Not only was I ever a happy or a good looking daughter (hell, I’m not even the best looking woman in the world. I mean, I know I’m up there, but I’m not #1), but it signifies the fact that not only was my childhood a lie…but it’s a well documented one. Having your parent be a photographer means being stuck with photo album after photo album of family photos ranging everything from christmas mornings to graduation. So the photos lie just as much as I was lying about myself to everyone around me regarding my lesbianism and so much more. And it’s all documented. Wonderful. It’s not necessarily that I HATE the photo, but it’s more along the lines of…I hate what the photo is showing. The photo itself is well taken, but it’s presenting yet again a false image. That other one I mentioned? That one with the rows? That was hung literally next to our front door as an instant image to be seen when you entered as a guest.
Oh, what a happy family!
Far from it, lady. Childhood is hard enough, but it’s even harder when you have to deal with declining mental health or a rejected sexuality. I’m certain the difficulties vary person to person, but for me personally…it’s the photos that are the worst. A lie of a lie. And the worst part is that it makes me feel like I didn’t even start really being alive until I came out, so there’s a documented childhood for a person I never identified as. That’s…unsettling to say the least. It also explains my enormous self hatred for having my photo taken as a kid, to the point where I’d leave the room or cover my face. I didn’t want to be documented. I DIDN’T KNOW WHO THE PERSON IN THE PHOTO WAS. Other people look back at photos and say, “What a happy child I was!”. I look back and say, “Who the hell IS this?”
These days though, I take a lot of selfies. It’s not because I’m vain (you have to first have self esteem for that, so I’m safe) or anything, but simply because I finally kind of like how I look. It’s a small consolation for the hell I had to put up with, but at least what I’m working on fixing my self esteem. But, that’s what suburban life is, at least when I was a little girl. Parents didn’t want their neighbors to see how screwed up their family was. Judgment was important to them. They wanted their family to be portrayed as happy, good, people. So they kept trimmed lawns and took lie filled photographs and they upheld to the highest standard an image of excellence and perfection to hide the problems they had. Nobody talked about divorce. Nobody talked about mental illness or homosexuality. It’s amazing how far we think we’ve come from the 50s, when really the only thing’s that’ve changed are our cable packages and how we process our food. There’s still bigotry, and hatred, and total lack of decent humanity, ESPECIALLY regarding treating your children and, a lot of times, often, yourself right.
So yeah, there’s one photo that encompasses my entire horrible childhood.
But there’s a billion that encompass my bettering adulthood.
And that’s kinda cool.
Hey, I’m Maggie Taylor, and this is my blog. If you like what I do here, you should check out my depressing space webcomic, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Cry”, or my new site “Sad Party”, where I ask others to revel in their sadness so others can see they’re not alone. If you wanna support me, you can always donate at my SquareCash. I’d really appreciate it.