Denial: Not Just A River In Egypt

All my life I’ve had trouble coming to grips with the difference between what I’d like to believe of myself and what hard evidence proves.

I first discovered my penchant for denial ’way back in the early 1970s. That’s when my parents decided to mail audio cassette tapes back and forth to keep in touch with our grandparents, who spent winters in Texas. I was about eight years old at the time, and the new tape recorder was a fascinating gadget. Fascinating, that is, until I recorded my first message and pressed the playback button. And this weird geeky voice issued from the tape recorder!

What the hell?!? (Or ‘what the heck’, I guess, since I was eight.)

I was certain the tape recorder was malfunctioning. I knew I didn’t sound like that. I could hear my own voice perfectly well in my ears (or, more to the point, in my imagination), and it was completely different. Even though my parents and siblings insisted that the recording sounded just like me, I was sure it was all just a tasteless joke and I refused to believe them.

But I eventually had to accept reality when I listened to their recordings. Their voices on tape sounded just like real life.

Damn. That weird, geeky voice was mine.

That memory came rushing back to me a couple of weeks ago. No thanks to COVID, I’m attending virtual meetings these days; so I got a webcam.

Let me just say that webcams were obviously created by the same sadists who install bright lights in changing rooms.

The first time I turned the camera on, this godawful old hag appeared on my screen. Pasty-skinned, she had deep grooves around her mouth and between her eyebrows, and the puffy bags under her eyes were big enough to accommodate a picnic lunch.

Clearly there had to be something wrong with the webcam, because I don’t look like that. Sure, I’ve got a few wrinkles, but they’re not really noticeable unless I look in the mirror while I’m wearing my glasses. (There’s something wrong with my glasses, too.)

But after attending my first online meeting, I’m chagrined to admit that everybody else looked the same on camera as they do in real life. So unless I somehow managed to buy a special ‘Funhouse Brand’ distorted webcam (and I’m not ruling that possibility out, just sayin’), I probably am the godawful old hag I see on my screen.

That was a severe blow to my powers of denial, but I shall overcome!

I’m pretty sure I only looked so bad because it’s a high-definition webcam and I was looking at it full-screen. It’s like looking at yourself in a magnifying mirror — everything looks much worse than it actually is. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

And if all else fails, I’ve just discovered that my webcam has a soft-focus setting that should blur reality nicely. Now, if only I could find some device to do that in real life…

Book 16 update: I’m on Chapter 23 and just finished my usual mid-book editing stage. Everything is tightened up nicely now, and I’m ready to bomb ahead!

43 thoughts on “Denial: Not Just A River In Egypt

  1. Diane I was laughing so hard and the reason being I am in total agreement. Since we do a fair amount of social media I used to do quite a few selfie videos where I would be talking. I couldn’t find a selfie stick long enough to keep me from screeching at what I saw in myself. I have no idea who has been digging those trenches in my face. Oh and another spot to avoid is hotel bathroom mirrors. Must they really put lights with the strength of the sun in those rooms?


  2. I so identified with this post. I too heard my voice for the first time with cassette tapes…couldn’t believe that was really me. Fast forward though years of family video tapes of our girls growing up and I got use to how I looked and sounded. But…..and I emphasize that pause, with the zoom stuff my siblings and I have done since quarantine started, I realized that when I shave or comb my hair in the mirror I ignore the wrinkles and saggy neck that has appeared…..ugh….reality isn’t fun anymore….


  3. Oh my! There’s something wrong with your glasses as well?

    All I did was laugh at your post. But, at the same time, I had to keep nodding my head. All your sentiments are exactly the same as mine. And, I’m probably at least ten years younger than you. I’d say, you’re doing pretty darn well!

    I STILL hate my own voice. And, I STILL look like someone straight out of the grave when talking on video Skype with my parents. I’m constantly playing with the screen of my iPad to create different angles, but all it does is make my mom feel seasick. Yes, she told me so! What is wrong with all those devices?

    By the way, I tried all your tips to hide my chubby round face for my author photo, but I miserably failed. Somehow, I missed the fact that my face has gotten round and chubby over the years. Talk about denial…


    • I personally think denial can be a wonderful thing. Reality is so inconvenient. 😉

      You made me laugh with “straight out of the grave”! I look horribly fish-belly-white in the webcam, too. Maybe there’s a colour-adjustment setting? Or maybe I’ll just turn off the video and pretend something’s gone wrong and I can’t make it work… but considering that everybody knows I’m a computer geek, that might not be too convincing…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my god, Diane! The first time someone recorded me singing I vowed I would never sing again! I hope I didn’t damage your years when I sang to your awesome piano playing in Speechly! You will also notice I don’t take selfies!!! Hope you are staying safe (and sane). Winterpeg has gone to Red so not much to do here. Take care!


    • Those were good times! (So long ago, yikes!) And your singing was great! The only thing I ever sing in public is ‘Happy Birthday’, and even that simple tune devolves into a tuneless shout by the end. I just hope there are points for enthusiasm.

      Hey, with Zoom, we could do a virtual sing-along! Fifteen hundred miles between us won’t make any difference at all, and you’ll have the option of tactfully muting my audio when you find out how rusty my piano-playing is. 😉

      I’m sorry to hear COVID is heating up in Winnipeg — that just sucks. We haven’t had it too bad here on the Island, but the mainland coast is insane. Stay safe out there!


    • Aw, thanks! I don’t think I’ve aged that much since last year, so I’m going to say that means it’s the camera. Or it means you’re just a silver-tongued flatterer. Or both. Either way, I win. 😉


  5. Once upon a time I couldn’t take a bad picture if my life depended on it. Seriously. These days I can’t take anything but bad pictures. Static camera or video, the camera hates me. My family is having a good laugh over it. Jerks, lol! Funny enough, we have an iPad looking thing at work that takes our temperature (Covid countermeasures) and as it does this it shines a very bright light in your face. Weirdly enough I find I look exactly the way I think I should for the two whole seconds that light is on. Wrinkles disappear, freckles disappear, skin is a uniform color instead of the blotchy mess I’ve got going on, and my second (and sometimes third) chin is nowhere in sight. I’m trying to figure out how I can walk around with a bright light on my face. Maybe alter a wide brimmed hat? hahaha!
    But I agree, webcams and high resolution cameras are hateful. Although maybe not as hateful as the pink lighting at the beauty parlors …. oh wow I am showing my age, does anyone call them “beauty parlors“ any more? Bwahaha!

    Great news about the book progress!! I thank the heavens for your talent and willingness to share it with us. Have a great day!!


    • Thanks, Michelle!

      Hmm, your ‘bright light’ strategy sounds promising. I think I’ve seen a successful example on the internet: There’s a famous author (who shall remain nameless because I totally understand her motivation) whose website photo is so washed out that you can’t identify any facial features except eyes, mouth, and a couple of small dots that might be nostrils. It makes her look about 15 years old. I’ve looked up that author in Wikipedia, and let’s just say she ain’t 15. She ain’t even five multiples of 15 anymore. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with picking an age you like and sticking with it. I might adopt that strategy myself, along with lighting to rival the brightness of a nuclear explosion. After all, I sling bullshit for a living, so why not work it?

      I’ll have to take your word for the pink beauty parlour lighting. I was in a beauty parlour exactly once, and I don’t remember much about it. When I was about 13 my mom finally convinced me to cut off my long hair by bribing me with a beauty parlour visit, which sounded much more glamorous than it actually was. They cut my hair off, and I was so horrified that I immediately started growing it out again and didn’t go back into any establishment where scissors were used until long after everybody stopped calling them ‘beauty parlours’. 😉

      Thanks for giving me a chuckle today — you have a great day, too!


      • P.S. I’m in helpless envy of your ability to always look good in photos, even if it didn’t last. The only way I’ve EVER looked good in a photo is if there are several dozen shots to choose from. Then I pick the one that looks that least awful.


  6. Definitely got a kick out of your post! Thanks again for the many smiles and guffaws I get from reading your entertaining news!
    I feel the same way about FaceTiming, Don’t want to do it. One trick I did find out is to have the computer/iPad at a level above your chin so you are looking up to the camera, much better….


    • Good point! I fiddled with mine to get the “best” angle (which was still pretty bad), and the one I finally settled on was at about eye level. Nice to know I got it right(ish). And I’m glad you got some chuckles! 🙂


  7. I might be in the same situation. I can’t stand the sound of my own voice, or seeing myself in a photo or on a video. Thank goodness I don’t do anything requiring a video meeting at this time. Aside from the lighting, cameras which use a wider-angle lens will also distort our features–that is why “selfies” always look so nasty. And for other occasions, thankfully I’m the one behind the camera, so I can get out of being in the photo. 😉

    And of course, the other trend in video meetings is to only get halfway dressed–just the top half. The rest of the attire can range from shabby sweatpants all the way to “jeebus, there’s a draft in here and dang it, my skin sticks to vinyl.” Or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t trust myself to get half-dressed since I’d probably forget. Don’t need to repulse anyone or cause a fit of the giggles…


    • Bahahaha!!! Speaking of ‘fits of giggles’, now I’m having a mental image that just should never have happened. I’m also considering the consequences of ‘the draft’ plus ‘the vinyl’. On a few memorable occasions I’ve sat on a vinyl chair wearing shorts, and I swear I left a layer of leg skin behind when I stood up. The thought of doing that in, um… ‘draft mode’… just makes me wince!

      Thank goodness my webcam doesn’t have a fisheye lens. The only thing that could make my image worse would be a big bulgy nose and forehead with eyes on the sides.

      My biggest concern isn’t so much the ‘half-dressed’ issue — it’s too cold here to run around half-dressed. My concern is the fact that it’s damn chilly and I always wear a sweater. The same sweater. I always wear a different T-shirt underneath, but after a few meetings where all they see is my sweater, I think people are going to begin to wonder if I ever change my clothes. Then again, that’s another advantage of virtual meetings: No olfactory offenses (of any sort). I’m liking these virtual meetings better and better…


  8. I had a laugh out loud reading the last lines. I think that a lot of people have the “blurred reality” app. If I find anyone that is willing to tell me where they got theirs, I’ll definitely tell you.


  9. I have got used to video meetings as I have to do one everyday, and we have to have cameras on for the first and last hour of the shift.

    I had to dye my hair, as my roots looked awful, I’m a natural blonde but I get darker roots in winter as less sun. So now I look sun-kissed.

    Oh and there is always the issue of who has washing/laundry in the background which is usually me, and it’s been commented on a few times but I’ve always said at least it’s clean laundry not dirty

    Hugs to all and stay safe xxx


    • Ha! Right, video-conferencing is another instance where airing one’s dirty laundry is a bad idea. My desk sits in front of a bookcase, and I had a quick look at which titles were being displayed behind me, too. Just in case…

      You stay safe and well, too! 🙂


  10. I do a lot of backlighting when on video conferencing. Put the light behind your chair so it’s mostly a shadow they see on the screen. Another trick is to turn off the video and tell people that you’re having bandwidth problems with your ISP so only the audio is working and you link crashes when you turn on video.

    They’ll accept it because won’t understand it.


    • Oh, ain’t that the truth? If I looked like my passport photo, not only would I be to sick to travel, but no border guard in their right mind would let me into their country. I look like an axe-murderer who’s thinking up viable weapon alternatives after somebody confiscated her axe.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. First and foremost. I am really, really glad that your writing is continuing to progress well.
    And a big yes to the horrors perpetuated by camera and microphone.
    Years back I was taking part in a filmed segment at college. My cue to speak was when the camera panned over to me. I didn’t recognise the woman in shot. ONLY when I realised that she was wearing my clothes did it gel that the woman I was looking at was really me. Sigh.


  12. I completely understand this. Last year when my son started university we would video chat with each other. During the first chat I was mortified to see a much older and more haggard version of myself on screen. Actually, I never really got used to seeing my image this way and was mortified for the whole school year. I know I have aged but the scary screen version of my image does not seem to match what I see in the mirror. I watched a few videos on how to look better when on camera — I don’t think they helped. I hope others see me the way I see myself but that is likely wishful thinking. Thankfully, my son is doing his program from home this semester so I can talk to him in person and not have to look at myself!


    • I still think those webcams distort our images. If it’s happening to you, too, then it must be true. 😉

      I have (or rather “had before COVID”) a similar problem in bars. If I ever got seated facing a mirror, I was doomed. It’s purely disturbing to watch my own face while I talk — I wrinkle my nose, frown, roll my eyes, bounce my eyebrows, hell, I probably wiggle my ears, too. It’s like watching a rubber mask with extremely active gerbils scurrying around under the skin. Brrr! Then I get distracted and lose the conversational thread, and in the end I have to turn my back on the mirror. I look MUCH better when I can’t see myself!


  13. The webcam is unquestionably an instrument of the devil. For that matter, so is the online meeting. Combine the two and you will definitely see irrefutable evidence that the end of the world is approaching at breakneck speed.

    And whose neck is the target? Or do we even need to ask?

    I despise online meetings. The ONLY thing worse than those wretched things is a face-to-face meeting. At least online you can click your camera and mike off—merely to save bandwidth, of course—and tiptoe away to grab a sammich and a beer. Er, water bottle. Or a five gallon jug of tequila. Whatever.

    Nah. I just hate meetings.


    • LOL! The tendency to zone out is much stronger in an online meeting, but I do love the ability to turn off my camera and microphone.

      I must have some weird allergy to meetings — as soon as I get seated at the table with a bunch of be-suited and bespectacled bigwigs, my nose starts to itch. And itch. And ITCH!!! Scratching your nose once or twice in a meeting isn’t that big a deal. Scratching your nose every ten seconds begins to attract attention. Which only makes my nose itch worse. It’s pure joy to just click off the camera for a few seconds and deal with the problem.

      And being able to sneak off and grab a beer is a bonus that hadn’t occurred to me. Thanks for that — now my online meetings will be much more enjoyable! (Maybe a bit less productive; but pshaw.) I may never go back to meeting face to face… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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