Corrigan Vaughan

Don’t Untag That Photo

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Facebook vs. Reality


At age 28, I’ve embraced a lot of things that, earlier on, I would have thought impossible to accept about myself. For example, I love wearing dresses. I realized a few years ago that I hated wearing pants, and the best alternative to wearing pants was to wear a dress — until it becomes socially acceptable to leave the house in a t-shirt and tighty whities, anyway. My aversion to dresses goes back to childhood, and was so deeply entrenched in my persona that wearing a dress to my bestie’s graduation in high school was pretty much the ultimate display of my love for her.

Relatedly, I don’t wear makeup. That’s not one of the things that changed, but it’s connected. ‘Cause I realized as I got older that the reason I wouldn’t wear a dress and the reason I wouldn’t wear makeup were totally linked. This was the thing: If I put in any effort and I still wasn’t pretty, then people could judge me for it. In shorts and a t-shirt, not a smudge of cosmetics on my face, I’m a blank canvas. I could be Mia Thermopolis or Laney Boggs. But the second I actually try, that’s it. That’s my potential reached. If I still don’t look like Halle Berry, it’s because I’m just not that pretty. I’m not good enough.

I’ve been social networking for the majority of my life. I built my first website on Angelfire when I was eleven, and I’ve jumped on board most internet trends since then. Thus, my life is well documented online. It’s hard to have much vanity when you’ve vented about your crushes and breakups on the world wide web from such an early age. Believe it or not, I’m thankful for that. While I’m not thrilled that I’ve been sharing my deepest and darkest with total strangers for nearly two decades, that unintentional openness has forced me to be completely comfortable in my own skin.

That brings me to my central point and humble plea: Don’t untag that photo. There’s been a lot of talk of the merit of selfies lately, and I’m particularly fond of one article pointing out that they are a rare and welcome instance of female self-confidence (although there are, of course, many who disagree with that). I think that’s awesome. But I think it’s also awesome to be comfortable with the feckin’ awful photos people tag of us. Here are just a few of the photos that exist of me on Facebook:


Yes, those are actual faces I elected to make in interacting with Ethan Embry and James Badge Dale.


It is much rarer to find a photo in which I look “good” than it is to find one in which I’m making a ridiculous face, intentionally or unintentionally, or in which I look like I weigh 800 pounds, or in which my body is contorted in some strange and off-putting position. And that’s totally fine by me. It used to be that avoiding dresses and making funny faces in pics was a way for me to eschew the pressures of trying to be pretty. As far as I know, no one has ever rejected me as a person because I’m not flawless to look at. And if they have, sucks to be them, because I’m super fun to be around. I know that this goes against everything we’ve been socialized to believe, but for real: you probably don’t really want to be friends with people who first look at your bone structure and the way you dress before determining you’re worth hanging out with. You want a real moment of glorious self-confidence? Take the hot selfie, but don’t untag that atrocious photo from last night. Let everyone see you. Own it. Are you super smart? Are you great at racquetball? Are you a super awesome listener? Are you an average human being with feelings? Sweet. Then screw looking like Tyra Banks. That’s good enough. We’re all somewhere in between the beautiful human being we put on facebook and the frumpy mess we’re hastily dragging to the recycle bin. In my experience, it’s freeing to accept the bin version. Plus, you might be surprised to find that people love a little imperfection. At the end of the day, we’d all much rather relate than envy.

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4 Responses to Don’t Untag That Photo

  1. Tim February 28, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    Great article Corrigan. The unique thing about our generation is that we have the ability to track our lives, as well as others, through social media. While I have been on this earth about the same as you, it is hard to say that every period has been a good one. Even though we may be embarassed by some of our fashion choices, behavior or physical looks, i.e. acne, weight, hairstyle, they are learning experiences. From this we can decide if we are capable of change or if we are comfortable with ourselves. Regardless of how people try to paint a picture of a perfect life, everyone has struggles. If people didn’t, it would be hard for me to relate with them or carry on a relationship/friendship. I look forward to your next article. A writer writes.

  2. cftodd February 28, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    I LOVE that bottom right photo it’s so beautiful.

  3. Sean X. Ahern February 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    The best part about this article–besides that CoRi reminds me once again to be comfortable with myself before caring about anyone else–is that we get a glimpse into what I have dubbed “the many reaction faces of Corrigan.”

    Also, as a man who takes pride in grooming his Facebook/Instagram/Twitter photos, I do try to keep up the ones that make me look human as well. It’s hard to look like a golden god all the time…

    And now I wait for the incoming storm of Charles and Joe mocking my vain ego….

  4. Pingback: Don’t Untag That Photo Redux | The Electric Feast

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