Picture, or no Picture?

I was saddened by the Neanderthal comments about Sheril’s appearance on what was meant to be a post welcoming her and Chris to Discover blogs, but I guess I was not surprised. Why should the blogosphere be different than any other part of life in this respect? Lots and Lots of posts on many excellent blogs have been written about this ‘incident’ in the last few days, and I’m not going to belabor it. I admire Sheril’s courage at putting her picture out there for everyone to see, this works for her, and have been thinking about my own choice in this respect.

I write quite a bit about myself and my own experiences as a ‘woman in science’, navigating academia, wife, mother-of-two, progressive person, lover of music, traveler, writer of grants/papers, and mentor to a new generation, on this blog. Some of these bits are my triumphs, some are my dismal failures, some- are just lists of my thoughts at any given moment. You may not realize how much of myself I reveal to you this way, but trust me on this one, I let you see quite a bit.  These are the really important parts of who I am as a person, and the important components of my life.

Yet, I’ve deliberately shown you nothing more than the back of my head.  Why?

You all know that I’m a woman, because I told you this already. So I don’t obscure my appearance out of fear that you won’t read or consider my ideas BECAUSE of my gender. I guess I wanted you to learn by listening, because I have things to say from time to time, and knowing what I look like isn’t really important for that. As for being a role model- I’ll be the first to say that women who want to be academic scientists could use a few great role models and a demo that those role models are multi-faceted individuals- but I don’t think you have to see my face to know that I’m on your side, or to learn from my advice and my failures, or to know that I have this wonderful complex life with many interests and loves.

I don’t keep images of my face off this blog out of fear, and I’m not trying to make a point about my appearance one way or another- I just want to have a productive conversation about the things that I (and maybe you all) find interesting and important.


10 thoughts on “Picture, or no Picture?

  1. I’ve always had my photo on my blog. The first one was a full-face portrait, but after some random Googler commented “I don’t have anything to say, except that you’re hot”, I took that one down. I like my current profile pic because it’s not full face, and if you know me IRL you’ll recognise me in it, but if you only know me from my blog, you probably wouldn’t recognise me if I walked past you in the street.

    I have included full face photos within specific posts, because I’ve built up a community of regular commenters who I like and trust. And the chances of some random Googler seeing them are much less than with the profile pic that’s on every page.

  2. Cath- It is interesting that you say that. I have several regular readers/commenters to whom I have revealed my identity, and the first thing that comes up in a google search with my real name, is my faculty web page- with my picture on it, and I’m fine with that. And like you, I have a community of regular readers that I have a nice conversation going with. I was realizing over the whole intersection (no pun intended) between the scienceblogs and discoverblogs crowds just how familiar we’ve become with each other- and how odd it feels when an ‘outsider’ (i.e. not a regular reader, or crossover from another group), puts his or her wrong foot in things.

  3. My other blog has a photo of me on it but it is more of a closed community so I wouldn’t expect that sort of comment to occur there.
    It is nice to have a space where you can talk about ideas without any influence from appearance and things like that. That’s the best bit about blogging under a pseud – you blog without the everyday baggage of who you are, what you are, what you look like and all the rest.

  4. Hey, I’m just excited to learn that your lead-off photo really does involve you–I thought it might be of three trainees at your bench or something!

    And yes, pictures seem like they will reveal something interesting about the person, but in fact they seem to reveal much more about the viewers/readers….

  5. I agree with all the comments and with your original post. Somehow it seems ok for people to make a random “ur hot” to “ur uggggly”…

    On the place where I am not psudo/anonymous I have a photo with my face partially seen, partly because I know that you can down load photos and if you don’t know me – you wouldn’t necessarily recognize me irl.

    On a blog in general, I am not sure that it matters to have a frontal face pic or not – simply because you (as a woman specifically) need to make you “not smile too much/not be too sexy/don’t be ugly/etc and whatnot”. I like how you described it, this is your blog and the information you give out so far is enough imho.

  6. I decided at some point that it’s really difficult to maintain anonymity and I don’t have anything to hide, so why try?

    But, I’ve never had anyone comment on my appearance.

  7. I think it would help, if she’s truly upset about this, for Sheril to not smile so wide and put her hair up and show a little shoulder (wearing professional attire of course). she IS very young looking and pretty and the way she has presented herself seems to emphasize that.

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