Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Women Do It Too

In last Wednesday's post, I poked fun at the impressions guys try to make in the photos they post on their online dating profiles. But the thing is, women (including myself) also try to give off certain impressions in the photos they post on their profiles.

I had a difficult time choosing the photos for my profile. As I was going through pictures of myself, it made me realize how much work has defined my twenties; most of my recent pictures are of myself in work situations. I do have pictures of myself with my friends, of course. But we rarely take pictures together anymore, unless it's someone's birthday or some other special event.

When I go to bars with the other graduate students, we don't use our fancy cell phones to take pictures of each other with drinks in our hands as we laugh and dance in a carefree sort of away. We're lucky if we can even afford cell phones. And even at bars we're talking about our work. If anyone were to take pictures of us at that moment, we'd probably all look really stressed, worried, or tired.

So here are a few examples of some of the pictures I found. They definitely made me remember what I was really thinking when the pictures were taken.

Picture of me holding my cousin's baby:
The impression I might give to guys: Look how maternal I am! I will be a great mother someday.
What I was really thinking: Don't drop the baby don't drop the baby don't drop the baby....WHY DOES THIS KID KEEP STARING AT ME?

Picture of me with my coworkers at my old job at the Expensive Clothing Store:
The impression I might give to guys: Check out the stylish outfit that I got with my employee's discount! I look like I could be on the cover of the Expensive Clothing Catalog, no?
What I was really thinking: I wish I could just wear jeans and a T-shirt to work.

Picture of me teaching a group of high school students:
The impression I might give to guys: As a teacher, I inspire my students.
What I was really thinking: If I catch those kids pushing each other out of their chairs ONE MORE TIME....

Picture of me as a member of a friend's wedding party:
The impression I might give to guys: Look at how good I look in formal wear! And I wasn't bitter that I wasn't the one getting married that day! Really!
What I was really thinking: I can't BELIEVE I had to spend so much money on a dress that I will never wear again! And these shoes are so uncomfortable!  And my hair feels so unnatural in this French twist! I feel like I'm going to fall over from the weight of all these bobby pins.

Picture of me at a bar last April that a waitress took of me, because she said it might end up on the bar's website:
The impression I might give to guys: I love going to bars. This is my idea of a fun Friday night!
What I was really thinking: I can't believe I let myself get talked into coming here. I can't believe I let that waitress take my picture. I'm having a bad breakout today! I look like Rudolph the zit-nosed reindeer!

Picture of me at the StoryStudio class I took last month, listening to the instructor Stephanie Kuehnert:
The impression I might give to guys: I am dedicated to the craft of writing.
What I was really thinking: Stephanie is such a cool writer and teacher. She's even cooler than the person who invented peanut M&Ms. Mmm, M&Ms. Those would taste good right now. Would anyone notice if I ate a couple from the stash in my bag?

Because I spend so much time working, I don't have a lot of pictures of myself "out on the town" in fancy dresses or miniskirts. Besides, I don't even like wearing dresses or miniskirts. Because it's so windy in Chicago for so many months of the year, I'm always afraid that the dress is going to fly up and I'm going to have a Marilyn Monroe moment, only it wouldn't be sexy so much as embarrassing.

Unlike some of the guys' profiles I've seen, the women on and (last year, when I did online dating for the first time, I checked out a few of the women's profiles to see how other women described themselves, so that I could maybe learn from their examples) don't have any shirtless photos. But some of them did do that "look at my chest" pose, where they stood with their chests sticking out. I don't have any pictures like that either.

This past Memorial Day, I went with a friend to Michigan Avenue. I had the idea to take some pictures of myself that I could put on my profile, but of course it was the one day that whole weekend where it was raining on and off the whole day. So in the pictures that my friend took of me, I not only looked like a tourist posing in front of Water Tower Place Mall, but I was also squinting through the rain while I huddled under an umbrella.

"Why don't you put up some pictures of yourself from a trip that you took back in college?" my friend suggested. But I disagreed with this idea. It's been seven years since I was an undergrad, and it's better to post more recent pictures.

So I ended up choosing pictures that I was less than satisfied with but figured that they were better than nothing. I'm not sure what kind of impression they'll give to guys. They apparently gave a good impression to one guy on eharmony, because I went on a date with him last night. What was it like? Wouldn't you like to know....:)

The truth is, although I'm considering writing some stuff about some of the dates I've been on/will go on in the future, I'd rather not go into detail about them. There's nothing wrong with people who do describe their dates in detail on their blogs, especially because it can not only make for interesting reading but it can also be a good way for those people to express how they feel about their dates. But all I will say about the date I went on yesterday is that it was nice. And that's all I'm willing to say about it at this point.

For one thing, if I really do end up liking any guy I meet on eharmony, I'd be afraid of jinxing it if I were to talk about it. And on the other hand, as I stated on a discussion forum for 20something bloggers, if I write  details in this blog about the dates I went on in the past but didn't like so much, some of the guys I've gone out with might read the blog and get mad at me. Or worse, they might ask me out again.


  1. So funny, your pictures! Rudolph the zit-nosed reindeer. Ha! I wish you would post the pictures! I think all of us wish that we had more of a different type of picture. As a young mom, there were so few pictures of me--I was always the one taking the pictures. And heavens knows I spend so much time working now myself it's a wonder anyone gets any pictures of me. Ah well.

    I'm now very curious about this date, by the way. I have 2 friends who met their matches on One just got married and the other gets married in 3 months. So I know these sites work!

  2. i hate sifting through pictures of myself. and i really hate when i see a picture i think is just repulsive, someone will inevitably tell me how good i look in it, or how it captures me perfectly. ugh.

    and i totally respect and agree with your decision not to talk about your dates on the blog. i can't see how comments from anonymous, faceless people in the blogosphere could possibly be helpful to your dating life.

  3. I love the difference between what you were actually thinking and the guy's perception!

    Ugh, choosing photos is so hard for that online stuff. In my experience, men rarely choose photos that actually look like them.

  4. I think you're smart for noting giving detail about the dates. You don't want them reading about present dates on the blog!

    I enjoyed what you were thinking vs. what the photos conveyed. Isn't that how photos usually are?

    Glad your date was "nice". Hope you get many more nice ones!

  5. Online dating petrifies me --- and as someone who rarely if ever goes to a bar, I'm at a loss as to what photos I could possibly share with the world that say anything other than "my name is and I work way too much"... memo to self: stage non-workaholic photos!

  6. Hi Carolina,
    That's nice to know that online dating worked out for your friends; maybe it'll work out for me too. :) But I guess it'll just take some time and that I'll just have to keep dating and see what happens.
    I know what you mean about always being the one to take pictures of other people; I think that's one reason I had a hard time finding pictures of myself.

    Hi mi,
    Although I might not go into a lot of detail about the dates, I have to admit that eventually I might reveal some details. (can't resist!) But I like to think that bloggers are not completely anonymous to each other, because by writing about our lives we are revealing aspects of ourselves to each other and relating to each other in that way.

    Hi Talli,
    It is true that some guys didn't choose photos that looked like the way they are now. I think it's important to post recent pictures, because the way I looked ten years ago isn't exactly the same to the way I look now.

    Hi Theresa,
    Thanks! I hope I get more nice dates too! But like I said to mi, I might give some details about the dates in the future. For one thing, notice how I said that my date yesterday was "nice" and not "life-changing". :)

    Hi Shayna,
    I like your phrase "stage non-workaholic photos". That's definitely hard for me to do, but I think it is important! I did consider having a picture taken of myself in my office at school, but I figure I should stick with "fun" photos.

  7. I understand your hesitation to share too much, so write about what makes you comfortable. :)

    Like Talli, I enjoyed your internal dialogue.

  8. I think it's so clever the way you describe the impression the photo gives off & what you're really thinking!

    OK, I hope to come back over here real soon & read all about a fun date you recently had! Right? :)

  9. Hi Shannon,
    I think that eventually I'll feel more comfortable sharing more details, especially because some of the stuff that happens is stuff that I think a lot of people go through (first-date feelings of nervousness, etc.).

    Hi notesfromnadir,
    I also hope that I'll be able to describe a fun date I had soon! Unfortunately, I'm going out of town for a couple of weeks, so I won't be able to continue dating until I get back. :(

  10. Hope you have a life-changing date soon!