A photo essay on masking

As a medical condition, the physiological nature of pain is described by Henry (2008) as the following:

On a day-to-day basis pain subsides after the recovery from tissue injury, such as a burn, a cut or even a broken bone. However, in some cases pain does not subside even despite healing of the injury. This is the pathologic condition known as chronic or persistent pain. In this case the individual may experience one or more of the following: spontaneous pain (pain for no apparent reason), hyperpathia (more pain than would be expected after a painful event)), hyperalgesia (increased intensity of pain to a further noxious stimulus), secondary hyperalgesia (spreading of sensitivity or pain to nearby, uninjured tissue) and allodynia (sensation of pain from a normally innocuous stimulus) (pp. 3-4). [science rules!]

As a marker of social wellness however, pain is a bit complicated. It is good for us to be around other people, but at the same time it can make those around us feel uncomfortable. There are then two possibilities: we self-isolate or we proverbially put on a mask. For those of us who choose to wear make up, sometimes what is proverbial becomes literal as well.

Last night I went out because one of my favourite bands was in town. My painsomnia (a portmanteau of pain + insomnia) makes me look pretty awful; meaning, I look like I haven’t slept in about a week (I haven’t slept well in probably two months now, but anyways…). I’m pretty sure I’m the poster girl for “you look tired” (as if I wasn’t aware that I looked or felt tired!).

I put on make up because I’m vain as fuck because I am a proponent of selfie culture narcissism, did my hair, and put on something other than pajamas because I was leaving my place and wanted to regulate my body temperature appropriately while simultaneously interacting with real live humans instead of being hunched over a computer trying to get my SSHRC application down to two pages which is slowly making me a little bit crazy and writing run-on sentences because of reasons. A lesser-known fact about me is that I really like playing around with makeup–with the exception of lipstick, which can go to hell in a hand basket thankyouverymuch–because there are a lot of things you can do with colour combinations (ooooh shiny), but really sensitive skin around my eyes combined with a sensitivity to a lot of cosmetics makes the act of removing make up pretty arduous to me. The end result is I don’t wear a lot of make up very often.

I decided that I wanted to see what I looked like while going through both the figurative and actual transformative process of masking myself with makeup and then removing it at the end of the night. Not only was I hoping that it would make me look not like shit better, but I wanted to hide the fact that I was having a pain day to the friend I dragged to the show with me as well as the other several hundred other people in attendance. I wanted to document how much being out in a non-familiar place for about three hours would take out of me (AKA if I would be out of spoons) to see if I would pay for it the following day (I did).

The unfortunate thing about this exercise is I had to rely on my iPhone’s camera because taking selfies with a DSLR is a bit of a complicated process at the best of times, and just using my camera is a painful for me despite most of the weight being relegated to my right hand (and this makes me so very sad). In short, the quality isn’t very good is crap, and my position within the frame changes between pictures one through seven (and is non-existent in picture eight). Nonetheless, what I came up with is fine for the intents and purposes I had last night, and of course I can work on improving my skills should I want to re-examine iPhone and DSLR self-portraiture in the future. Getting someone else to take the pictures for me could work too.

p1 p2 p3 p4 p5 p6 p7

Yes, if you are wondering, I am wearing three different black shirts within the seven photos. I like wearing black, okay?

Initially I included and then removed the eighth photo from the set and have let it “stand alone,” as aesthetically it didn’t belong with the rest. Be that as it may, it clearly shows how tired I look (with bags like that you could pack for a week long vacation *badum tish*!) on a normal day. It also illustrates that perhaps I need to invest in a better under eye concealer for the days I’m not wearing my glasses (which camouflage the bags fairly well based on where they rest on my face).

Me being, well, me (= hypercritical of myself), I notice differences from picture to picture, some of which in my opinion are very obvious. I think pictures one and six–one pre-“masking” and one post-“masking”–demonstrate some significant discrepancies as well. I don’t know how visible they are close friends versus people who know me versus those who only “see me” virtually. Similarly, is there is a particular emotion being shown on my face at any given time (RBF)?

Total cliche moment here: if a picture is worth a thousand words, what exactly am I telling the world? Any thoughts, impressions and opinions would be appreciated!

This entry was posted in Diss/ability, Observations on Life Outside of Academia, Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to A photo essay on masking

  1. Pingback: I Am Not From Here | danielle dissertates

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