Of course, taking a picture of yourself now is nothing unusual at all. As the mother of two teenage girls in the Internet age, I can safely say that they've taken more pictures of themselves than their dad and I took of them as children, or probably more than we took of them and their brothers combined. Their photos are then posted to Facebook, so that friends can "like" them. I can't say that I'm grateful for my own teenage years, but I certainly am thankful that Facebook wasn't around then. I don't know that I could have handled the pressure. As someone with decidedly less-than-perfect looks (and getting more that way all the time), finding a halfway-decent photo to go with my online persona is my new 21st century challenge. I was even asked by a "friend" to change my Facebook photo to something more attractive.
All of this focus on outer beauty made this article on CNN.com about photographer Brian Steel's project "Impaired Perceptions" very welcome. Steel, who himself has a rare condition that causes muscle weakness and difficulty breathing, has taken photographs of people with disabilities and told their stories:
"We filter everything that we see through the lens of our perceptions, so it is not until we are able to step outside of our perceptions that we are able to determine what is real and what is not," the 33-year-old wrote. "The portraits are traditional, empowering and show each person's humanity."
"The overall message is that you cannot tell what a person is capable of or what their life is like simply by looking at them. That is true regardless of ability, race, religion or orientation."