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Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim

Lisa and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, have teamed up to bring their hilarious and witty perspective on the everyday life as mother and daughter in their weekly essays which you can find in their latest collection, Have a Nice Guilt Trip. With stories that will have you laughing out loud one minute and tearing up the next, Lisa and Francesca connect with readers on a deeply emotional level because of the honesty they bring to their stories and by the time you turn the last page you will feel like you just found two new best girlfriends. Earlier collections include Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, and Best Friends, Occasional Enemies.

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Chick Wit: Swipe Me Tender
Francesca Serritella | February 22, 2015

There are many reasons to be apprehensive about whether a dating app can deliver true love, but I won't play coy with you.  What has kept me from uploading myself to Cupid's digital arrow is this: the pictures.

Perhaps I'm revealing myself to be vain, or maybe insecure, but this is real talk, #nofilter.

The prospect of choosing pictures of myself for potential dates to judge gives me a cold sweat.

First, there's the feminist objection.  Aren't women objectified enough? 

With most dating apps like Tinder, the written bios are short-to-nonexistent, and the profiles are primarily photos.  Do I really want to make the online-shopping version of myself for men to select or reject with a literal flick of their fingers?

Should I include my measurements?  I can be returned for store credit only.

Granted, Tinder offers equal-opportunity objectification for all genders and sexual orientations, but for women who deal with this every day IRL (Internet-speak for in real life), it's the cherry on top of a sexist sundae.

But I get it, looks are an undeniable part of sexual attraction.  I'd want to check out a guy's photo, too.

So we arrive at the more mundane insecurity.  I don't love pictures of me.

My self-confidence has never been based on my looks.  For better or worse, almost always for worse, we form our self-image around the time we become aware of the opposite sex, during middle school and high school. 

That's why we're all trembling balls of need dressed as functioning humans.

Revenge of the nerds is a fantasy for a reason.  In real life, all the nerds feel like nerds forever.

When I hit puberty, I got glasses, acne, and my once-straight hair frizzed its way into nascent curls.  God threw me a bone—I had naturally straight teeth—but teenage boys aren't orthodontists, so that wasn't the rocket ship to popularity you might think.

So I leaned on other strengths.  I was smart and I could be funny, that was how I made friends.  By the time I grew into my nose and found the good curly-hair products, my self-perception had been fixed.

I've also been told flat-out I'm not photogenic.  I've been told the picture of me in this very paper "doesn't do me justice."  I think people intend this as a compliment, but social media has made the online images of ourselves the primary point of contact for friends, employers, and now, potential mates.

My best friend agrees, "Being photogenic is much better than being pretty in person." 

This isn't a modern problem, it's a modern solution.  Deceiving potential mates has been part of romance for centuries.

Cyrano De Bergerac could have used a good Instagram filter.

Give credit where credit is due: I know that the men on these apps aren't looking to date a photo.  They're looking for a real person.

They're just judging us by our photos.

So that means they're projecting, a lot. 

If a picture says a thousand words, then I need to control the narrative.

What kind of smile falls between school picture and Sports Illustrated?  I want to be down-to-earth and natural, but I want to play the game, too. 

They gotta swipe right, right? 

What is tasteful girlfriend-cleavage?  Asking for a friend.

I'm afraid that my average pictures won't be pretty enough, or if I post only the best pictures, I'll be disappointing in person.  What if I'm not what the guy expected?

Dating apps are expectation-generating machines.  They invite you to project wildly onto the person.

It's the projected version of me that I'm really afraid of.  Who is she?  Who is the Tinder version of me that the real me will have to compete with when I actually meet a guy?  She'll be different every time, depending on the man.  She's in his head, I can't control her.

But now that I'm writing this, I'm changing my mind.  What am I afraid of?  My silent, un-photogenic, two-dimensional self?

I can take me any day. 

© Francesca Serritella 2015

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