when i was in elementary school, my mom hired a guy to come to our house and take photos of me and my sisters. for christmas, probably? generic family portraits, maybe? i don't remember the occasion; i do remember how frustrated he was with me when i wouldn't smile to his satisfaction. (i have never been able to beam plausibly on command, for loved ones or anyone else, and i hate being instructed to try. it shows.)

his "look at the dolly, make a pretty face at me!" banter got more and more ragged as the shoot went on, and i imagine we were all relieved when the session came to an end. the conclusion seemed especially satisfying for him, as i still remember the look on his face as he and my mother sat at the dining room table to talk over payment and her order. i was standing behind them, leaning against a console next to our sofa, when he tipped his chair back until he was crushing my fingers with it. i gasped and looked up at him—and he was glinting back at me, with a nasty, thoroughly unfeigned fuck you, sullen little girl smile. i decided not to give him the satisfaction of an expression then, either, and clenched my jaw until he leaned forward and i could walk away.

i think about that guy when social media serves me photographs of women i care about—intelligent, fascinating, accomplished women—posed like barker's beauties in thirty-year-old episodes of the price is right. you know the pose: shoulders back, head down, turned just so, jaunty foot forward, insouciant hand on a hip. on casual nights out, on vacations, celebrating milestones: there they are, ready to show me a chrysler. knowing one's camera angles is a thing, and i get that—i mean, i worked at a women's magazine for a decade—but i see those photos and miss spontaneous, kinetic joy. i miss albums of photos that don't look like flipbooks: here is the pose at a restaurant, here is the pose at a beach, here is the pose at a ceremony. i think, someone is making her do that, and i wonder how that old sadist tricked so many of us into internalizing him.

that's my angle, anyway.


Erin said...


Anonymous said...

i love this; i've saved it.

long-time fan, first-time commenter who has never quite known her angles.

wool and misc said...

YAY!!!! Yer still here. <3

furiousmuse said...

wow--palpable and provocative.