Skip the Picture, I’d Rather Have 1,000 Words

WORTH: the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held

A picture is worth a thousand words. 

That phrase has been used to convey that a picture is more valuable than words.  But, I propose we start thinking of it as simply an exchange rate.  You give me one picture; I give you one thousand words.  It’s an even trade.  Like exchanging four quarters for a dollar.  Neither is more valuable, they are just different.

In an unexpected turn for the delightful, I was recently selected as the winner of an essay contest and awarded a scholarship to the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.  In anticipation of the publication of my “What My Mom Taught Me” essay, a journalist for the Santa Barbara News-Press called to interview me and ask for a photo.  That’s where things got tricky.

You want me to describe myself in words?  No problem.

Answer personal questions about my childhood?  Can do.

Email a high resolution photo of myself?  Uh….

What about a photo of an adorable child blowing out candles while I look for a knife in the background?

Or, a picture of me hiding my post-baby body behind my children to such a degree that cropping them out removes essential elements of my anatomy?

Maybe you’d like a picture of Son building a sand castle with assistance from my right hand and forearm?

Are elementary school photos acceptable?

A photo from my wedding day…nine years ago?

It’s not that there aren’t pictures of me.  There just aren’t recent pictures of all of me, facing forward, without food in my mouth.

Even if I could find a picture of myself, alone, facing forward, with only one chin, I’m not sure I’d want it in the newspaper.  My mug shot doesn’t capture what I want you to know about me.  What I wanted you to know, I told you with words.

What does it add to know my age, ethnicity and eye color?

I gave you 500 words.  The way I see it, you owe me 1/2 a picture.

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