Two days before Christmas, I received a duplicate comment — an anonymous, public duplicate comment — on two faith-based sites to which I contribute monthly:
Please, please, – my heart asks, – please don’t be offended; And, I know that this is off-topic:
But, could you consider changing your tag-line/bio photo to one that
has less of your skin showing? (Though you are indeed beautiful!)
This perhaps is a case where the messenger should better reflect the
message (and your photo does not reflect your WONDERFUL message).
Your message of the POWER of PRAYER and of the LORD’S SPIRIT is indeed a WONDER-FULL message.
kindly, and by HIS grace alone,
Please note: the above is a cut and paste and all typos are the Anonymous Commenter's alone; except I fixed a screwy spacing issue.
The profile picture attached to my author bio was the same one right up there in the top left corner of my blog, one of my favorites from the 1,000+ pictures my insane sister captured for my Traveling Red Dress "photo shoot" in Germany.
That bony clavicle is not my best feature, but it is one that tells me I'm my mother's daughter, and it tells my daughter she's mine. So I tolerate it because it keeps my Mama and my baby girl close to mind and heart, this is how God made me, and I've never heard of plastic surgery to minimize a perfectly healthy, no-matter-how-protruding, collarbone anyway.
Another thing–I like that smirky grin barely twisting my lips because I'm prone to showing you ALL my teeth 99% of the time. Don't smile! I can still hear my big sister barking, which is like telling me not to breathe. But if someone can snap a picture of me looking happy – SANS THE TEETH – * a n d * a little mysterious, well, they've managed something not so typical for folks like me (those born channeling the Cheshire Cat and likely to die that way, too).
Further, because o b v i o u s l y I'm belaboring point after point, over the past few years the red dress has been worn by A Magical Sisterhood sized 6-18. I'm one of the sixes and, as far as I know, the last person to wear it before Jenny Lawson's appearance on the Katie Couric show. I mention the size range only to explain that keeping this dress up was a challenge! Years ago, I explained why I'm thankful to be small-busted (although when I re-read that list I would absolutely add at least two more points, likely worthy of a future blog post), but for purposes of The Dress, a few grapefruits would've been helpful.
Ai yi yi…the Commenter.
I actually hear the writer's heart in this and believe her motive was pure, written from strong personal conviction. The overall effusive nature of her comment indicates she was concerned about how I would receive it; words were carefully chosen to minimize offense. Rather than summarily dismissing what she had to say (because, h e l l o, it's anonymous), I listened with a measure of detachment, genuinely considering her message. Also, in the postage stamp-sized avatar, the picture is cropped above where you can see the red dress, and I suppose those with active imaginations might think I'm wearing The Emperor's New Clothes.
When I shared it with my husband, he reminded me that the internet is a public forum and the nature of blogging invites diverse opinion (he had a few other juicy things to say, but I'll keep those between me and him). I also shared it with the writers of one of the sites where it was published, and not only did they share their support in favor of keeping it, they threatened bodily harm if I changed it.
(And they suggested this might be why I would chose such a picture…!)
And, let's remember my opinion: I like it. A lot.
Let me tell you why—
I see a michievous expression and a figurative wild hair up-do (a rarity; and the result of my big sister bossing me AGAIN "TWIST YOUR HAIR UP IN THIS CLIP!" without the benefit of a brush or mirror or me seeing what it looked like until we got home and I saw the pictures).
I see my page in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Red Dress. I remember strangers who asked to have their picture taken with me, the school children on a field trip who asked for my autograph, those darlings who thought I was a celebrity despite my protests.
I see my personality–joie de vivre + carpe diem with a sliver of WHAT in THE world AM i DOING?!
I see a memory carved into forever with my sister, a few hours where I felt like a princess.
So why would I change my author avatar for those two sites?
Why would I bow to the preference of a commenter who, rather than approach me privately, discretely and maturely via email, leaves a comment at two other sites for which I write?
And in consideration that every person from whom I sought counsel defended my use of the picture?
My reason is found within the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 10:23-24:
“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-24, ESV
And also in light of 1 Corinthians 8, especially verses 9-13 and lasering in on my freedom–
But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. ~ 1 Corinthians 8:9, NASB
I don't believe my liberty is of greater value than another's Achilles Heel.
I would never want my freedom to diminish the value of my words, specifically as it relates to writing about my faith, when my experience (and the processing of it) is intended to honor and glorify God.
If one person feels my picture contradicts that message, then who knows how many others feel the same way? It's a sobering question I'm compelled to ask myself. And rather than speak to me privately about it, they just click away, branding me as some trollop and never bothering to read my words again? The only thing worse than putting Baby in a corner is throwing her out with the bathwater….
Another big factor is I would never in any way, shape or form want to detract from the websites where the avatar appears! I value them, I've seen how the content encourages others in the faith, and I can't bear the thought of my choices hurting those sites' respective messages of hope, encouragement and healing.
If this is the case then, why would I leave the photograph in question on my own site? Well, mostly because you can see the dress when the picture isn't cropped! And, as I've detailed above…I like it for a lot of reasons.
It wouldn't surprise me if I actually know the Anonymous Commenter; she did her best not to hurt my feelings and to leave no way for me to trace the comment back to its source. Interestingly, my feelings have nothing to do with my decision or how I received her comment.
And I am offended, but not because of her comment.
It's highly insulting for anyone to comment publically elsewhere and not to hold me in high enough esteem to contact me directly to express their concern.
But, then again, I suppose cowardly lions lack the courage to stand publically behind their convictions.
* * * * * * *
Your turn: Please chime in on this one…I'd love to hear your thoughts about anonymous comments or letters.