Every Face Tells a Story

With a grateful nod to Connie Schultz’s wonderful piece in Parade recently (http://www.parade.com/news/views/connie-schultz/021911-my-story-in-5-faces.html), I’d like to offer my own version of “My Story in Five Four Faces.”

I’ve been plowing through photographs: in boxes, in envelopes, some stuck between plastic sheets in a fake-leather binder, scanning them and saving them on a hard drive.  One thing has remained constant: I hate having my picture taken.  Well, at least since I’ve been old enough to know that standing in front a camera usually meant regret.

Adorable, right?  Of course, chubby arms, legs, and cheeks can work on a two-year-old. A two-year-old with curly red hair wearing a red felt outfit made by my Mom.  Happy baby, definitely.  I hadn’t yet begun to bicker with my sister or to test my parents’ patience.  Christmas 1960 and Martha smiles happily for the camera.

By the way, when I was about ten, and no longer had curly red hair, my mother made me sit under an infra-red lamp at her beauty salon, trying to bring back the curls, in spite of my whining that I did not want curly hair.  I guess I’m lucky to have escaped the home permanent.


This is my sophomore year of college.  The arm around my neck belongs to a boy, but not a boyfriend.  Sophomore year of college certainly had its challenges: a devastating fire just before Christmas that killed ten young women, an ice storm the following month.  I’m wearing a hat because a day prior, a window fell and broke on my head, and I have stitches and a partially-shaved scalp.  I really wasn’t a hat person.  My roommate that year was arguably the prettiest girl on campus, I mean, she was just stunning.  I was not anywhere near stunning, and it would take years for me to figure out how to work with what God had given me.  For this moment, though, I could smile for the camera.  Later, looking at the photograph (nice-looking boy on my right and the stunning roommate on his other side), I hated what I saw.  But look, more than 30 years later and I’m able to post it.  Good for me.

This is at a Christmas party in 1983.  The man whose arm is around me is not my boyfriend.  I finally traded eyeglasses for contacts, and learned to wear makeup.  I was as thin as I’d ever be; that phase lasted about 18 months.  I was in love with three different men, each of whom was not ‘the one.’  When I saw this photograph, immediately I was critical of everything about me: my hair, my face, my dress.  Well, the dress was just so 1983.  Wore it once, never again.  But still.  I look at this photograph now (with the man cropped out) and I kind of like the way I looked.  And I remember having a great time that night, in spite of ripping my dress all the way up the back to my bum.


I’m putting this one in because it’s the most recent photograph of me in existence.  And because I can accept myself, finally, at age 53.  I cover my gray hairs, I wear sunscreen even on cloudy days, I’ve mostly gone back to wearing glasses, but will put in the contacts for special events (like this one, meeting up with some old high school friends).  And, although I still cringe inside, I’ll allow my picture to be taken, once in a while.

6 thoughts on “Every Face Tells a Story

  1. I’m with you: I hate, hate hate to have my picture taken. Funny thing is, when I was acting, I didn’t mind having publicity photos taken of me in character, but not of ME. And now I’ve got wrinkles along with all my other flaws–everybody’s damned phone is a camera. Arrgghh.

    BTW, Martha, you’re a winner in our DECADES contest. Come over to the blog and claim your book from Ruth Harris!


  2. A lovely article! Thank you for sharing. We’re about the same age and I can identify with much of what you said. Looking back, aren’t you amazed that you’re thinner and pretteir than you remember? I found Connie’s article to be inspiring too but haven’t found the pictures yet to share.


    1. Thank you, Jill! I was inspired by Connie’s piece that I knew I had to do one for myself. Perhaps it’s reaching the milestone of 50 years old that has us (finally) learning acceptance. Thank you for reading my post! ~Martha


  3. OH Martha, I absolutely loved this. It touched my heart AND touched a nerve with me. It was beautifully written and so, so close to many of my own feelings about past pictures of myself. I loved it my friend. I don’t think you have any idea of how truly beautiful you are. And that last picture is my favorite.


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