The Vine: October 2, 2013
This has been kind of an ongoing thing, but it's starting to bother me more and more. First a bit of background.
I was diagnosed with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in 2009. It started on my scalp and spread to my face. At the worst point, my entire forehead, nose and some parts of my cheeks were covered. I didn't even want to leave my apartment because people looked at me like I was a leper. I've had grown-ass adults ask me what's wrong with my face. I usually stammer some kind of explanation about an autoimmune disorder, when what I really want to do is cordially invite them to eat a bag of dicks.
My real problem, though, is my friends. I am not at all comfortable with having my picture taken. Despite several polite requests that they not take my picture (or at least ask me if it's okay beforehand), my friends still do it. Someone takes out a camera or a phone and starts taking group pictures, and when I try to move or outright ask that they not take my picture, I'm ignored. Usually flippantly, with some sort of remark like, "Oh, it's fine." Um, no it's not. I'm not comfortable with it, and I've said so several times. And what's worse is that they end up putting the pictures on Facebook, which I'm REALLY not okay with.
I mean, I've had someone tell me flat-out that they were just going to do it anyway when I asked not to have my picture taken. And it's usually in a group setting where we're in public and I end up feeling like an asshole for making a big deal out of it. They see it as no big deal, but to me it feels like a violation and like they're just dismissing me. I know saying I feel violated probably makes me sound like a huge drama queen, but I don't know how else to describe it. And now that (thankfully) the psoriasis on my face has started to clear some, they're even more forceful about it.
I know this is probably something small to be upset about, but it really bothers me that they seem to not care about how I feel at all.
Do I just suck it up and deal with it? And if not, how can I get the point across that I'm not comfortable being in pictures? Am I being an asshole here?
I really hope y'all can help me, because I'm running out of ways to say "no, thank you" without it sounding like "fuck off."
No Pictures, Please
You're not being an asshole, but you're causing yourself even more stress by reacting to it this way. That isn't to say that your reaction isn't understandable, or your right; it's both, you feel how you feel, and I don't get people insisting on other people getting into the photos when it's clear from body language (or…regular language) that they'd rather not. Like, that's almost never a coy bid for the photo-taker to beg…it's like calling attention to people's shyness out loud. Never mind the rudeness: what's the point of doing it?
…Anyway. It's upsetting, and that's legit. Also legit: your friends don't think your condition is as severe, or negative, or hideous and blighting as you do. They love you, and they don't notice it. You're just you, and they want you in the picture because you were there, with them, being you. The fact that these same friends can't remember/respect that you don't want to see your psoriasis under a hover tag on Facebook does give me pause, of course, and I don't disagree that it's a bit dismissive…but maybe you want to put that aside for a minute and think about the bigger picture here, to wit: every conversation you have to have with them, singly, again, about how you know they don't mean anything by it, but you just hate being photographed and you have to ask, again, that they not make a federal case out of the fact in front of everyone, or put you on Facebook without your permission; every time you see a smartphone going into aloft-snap position and freeze, preparing to "dig in your purse" or "look for something under the table" or "race-walk to the ladies'"; every time you go through your friends' feed and untag yourself and fume? That is time spent, and gone forever, thinking about the psoriasis, resenting it, defining yourself as The One With The Skin Condition, and reinforcing the idea that this is a terrible problem. And "this" can mean the psoriasis itself, or your aversion to photos — but either way, it's taking something from you emotionally, and at the end of the day, it's not worth it.
Listen: I'm not trying to blow sunshine up your ass about inner beauty, which I'm sure you have (as well as outer beauty). This isn't about that. This isn't about going along to get along, exactly, either. This is about deciding that caring about the issue to this extent is not a good use of your time. Bottom line, your friends don't see this is a big deal as far as your appearance, and they won't stop trying to include you in photos — so maybe it's time to decide for yourself, this is a part of social life, and I don't have to like it, but if I just do it, smile, cheese, snap, it's over in eight seconds. Resisting, reminding people that you hate it, seething that they don't care…again, I get it, and I would feel frustrated too. You're not being oversensitive, or a baby. But you have better things to think about and better ways to feel about yourself and your friendships.
I mean, what's the object here? To feel less shitty about this, no? So I think the best way to do that is to give your friends the benefit of the doubt that they do care about you and think you're "fine," and to acknowledge that, while you're going to spend a certain amount of time dealing with the psoriasis in ways that aren't positive (and what is with these people asking about it? I'm a big fan of the stare and the "Why would you ask me that?", but I think a "Mine's plaque psoriasis — what about you? Just ugly, then?" is not out of line in future, because fuck's sake), it's only going to get so much of your time and tears. Could you approach a friend after something like this happens and gently remind him/her, "You know, because of the psoriasis, I'd really rather not be in photos, so I appreciate your respect for my position on that"? Sure. Sometimes people forget. Other people are just jackasses, and it's time to spend more time with people who listen.
But if you continue to see this as a big deal, you have to…deal with it, and you have to enforce it as a big deal, and I just think that, net, it's not worth it. When it's picture time, get behind someone's shoulder, or have a vogue move you do that only shows your eyes, something that lets you laugh a little and have control over it while also rolling with it more…because I think control is partly what this is about, and I empathize, but hiding that hard is just going to wear your ass out.
Tags: etiquette friendships