Coffee heat rising

The Queen of Ugly

I just can NOT do Zoom.

And why can I not do Zoom? Because the damn thing shows you — all through the online get-together — a video of yourself. There are some things in this world that I do not wish to see, and that — an image of myself — ranks right up at the top, Number One, among the things that I do not wish to see. Ever.

Nor that anyone else should have to see, come to think of it. 😀

For reasons that no one seems to know — or to be willing to articulate — I am spectacularly unphotogenic. Have been for all of my life. Pictures of me apparently don’t actually look like me. Or if they do, it’s pretty tragic.

I can see myself in the mirror, and I imagine I look OK. I’m not especially fat. Or especially skinny. I do not dress spectacularly, but neither are my outfits unusually dowdy or ugly. I wear good make-up and I do know how to apply it. My hair is a radiant chestnut with red and blonde highlights — and even in my dotage it has hardly any gray. Guessing from the reflection in the mirror, I’m neither very pretty nor very homely.

Other people claim that I look normal enough, even attractive. When I was young and buxom, men used to holler at me, follow me, and make passes at me.

But aim a camera at me, and that changes instantly. In any kind of photograph, whether it’s a still photo or a video, I come out looking uglier than Pussley. More than homely: ugly. Doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. Doesn’t matter what the background is. Doesn’t matter how my hair is styled or how much or little makeup I have on. In any image, I look so ugly as to bring tears to my eyes.

Which is exactly what happened when I turned on Zoom this evening. The program first off shows you an image of yourself. And…oh, my God. It actually did make me cry, so hideous did I look in that thing.

So…’bye! Turned it off. Wish I could turn off the memory.

Years ago, I needed to get a publicity photo done for a book I’d written. I was working at Arizona Highways magazine that time, as staff editor. If you’ve ever seen Arizona Highways, you know that its specialty is making photos look gorgeous.

The magazine’s photo editor, who was an experienced photojournalist and very talented with a camera, proposed to photograph me for this particular milestone. This was very kind of him, because he really did happen to be a high-octane talent.

I tried to explain to him that no matter what anyone tried to do, photos of me invariably made me look like the Wrath. (You understand: he was not the first professional photographer who had tried to do a portrait of me!)

He was having none of it. He felt assured that he could produce a photo that would make me look great and help sell books.


I got my hair styled and laid on the make-up and tricked myself out in my best professional clothes. He showed up with more gear than you can imagine, including special lights and a background and a reflective umbrella thing and…it was all very impressive. I smiled into the expensive professional camera and he took a slew of photos and a good time was had by all…and then he went off to develop the things.

And when he came back with them?

Yep. I looked like the Ugly Duckling magically transformed into an Ugly Woman. He had to allow that was the case. I said I tried to tellya: any time anyone tries to take my picture, this is how it turns out.

He studied the photos for what seemed like quite a few minutes and finally said, truly puzzled, “I just don’t understand it.”

Neither do I. But I sure hate it. And I hate Zoom as much as I hate any other photo device. They all make me cry.