New Year, New Car…Same Revolting Smile

I’m writing this immediately after getting home from a morning workout. You could tell at the gym that it was the new year. I typically try to work out in the mornings. My ideal is a 5-6 AM gym start time, and a big part of that is because I enjoy an empty gym. While I’ve noticed it getting increasingly crowded over the past year (why? No clue…I’m not a gymologist), this past week has been legitimately packed. While one of my (many) New Year’s resolutions was not to be so cynical, I couldn’t help but notice how easy it was to spot many of the new gym goers by their sense of entitled I’m-on-a-new-journey empowerment that saw them repeatedly ask to use a machine you just got on, even though there are plenty of other machines free, because they have a new routine they must do in the prescribed order (change happens slowly, ok?)!

My big New Year’s move was starting 2023 with a brand-new car. While design-wise, it’s a lateral move—I went from a 2018 white Chevy Equinox to a 2019 black Chevy Equinox (though I was told repeatedly that white cars are for old people, while black SUVs have a mysterious, sexy connotation…so maybe this is an upgrade)—getting this new vehicle was an ordeal that, without going into details, I’m happy to have behind me. It feels, in part, like a bit of a fresh start, and entirely coincidental synced with the new year. 

Do you know what’s not new but needs to be replaced? The professional headshot I use for my LinkedIn and any professional writing endeavors, namely my Op-ed submissions to the Asheville Citizen-Times. 

I don’t enjoy taking their photo, especially if it’s solo. I just never know what to do and always end up looking dumb. Additionally, the Brothwells as a people are not photogenic. I’m not saying that to pander for compliments, either. I have moderately healthy self-confidence and consider myself a decent-looking person in person. I just don’t translate well to film, and combined with my reticence to take photos solo, almost every formal photograph I’ve taken isn’t great. The headshot in question makes me look stretched out, squinty-eyed (though, that’s true to life), and vaguely…dweeb-like? People have noticed. I’ve had multiple friends—and none of these people are being dicks—suggest that I get a new headshot that “actually looks like me” taken. I’ve also  had commenters weigh in. One told me that I have a “very punchable face,” which honestly, I chose to take as a compliment—to me, having a “punchable face” denotes looking like a rich asshole, and since I’m not, nor probably won’t attain rich-asshole status anytime soon, I’m cool with looking like one. “That’s the face of a bloated alcoholic” hurt a little more—especially since it’s one of those not accurate at all, but yet not entirely false statements. 

I had a New Year’s Day op-ed published this year titled “Chuck Edwards’ fake news on police deaths” which you can read it if you want the lowdown, and as I’m wont to do, I checked on the comments a couple of days after it went live. The top comment was “what a revolting smile.” The cherry on top is that said commenter had created their user profile three hours earlier. It was genuinely touching to realize some intrepid reader created a Citizen-Times profile specifically to call out how heinous I look (and regarding this picture, I don’t disagree). Because I’ll probably never learn, I decided to engage with a simple “<33333” as a reply. I wish I screenshotted the interaction now because, at this point, the kind moderators deleted that thread, ostensibly for violating guidelines that prohibit commenters from going after looks (thought I’m sure said commenters will blame the media elite for silencing free-thinking patriots like themselves). 

So hopefully, I won’t just be starting this New Year with a new vehicle, but some new headshots too. I’m cool with being called a bloated alcoholic with a revolting smile in the future if that’s what commenters want to do in lieu of making legitimate arguments about the content (all attention is good attention, right?), but I don’t want them to be right, and currently, they are. 

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