What I Learned From My First Profile Picture

Apparently the first social media trend of 2015 is sharing your first Facebook profile picture and tagging your friends to do the same, Mashable reports. I haven’t seen this across my feed yet, so I’m questioning just how “trendy” this trend is, because my friends are obviously trendsetters. Unlike the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014, this isn’t about donating to a charity or anything, it’s literally just about sharing what will most likely be an embarrassing picture and getting your friends to do the same.

I checked around a few friends’ Facebook profiles, and unless you’ve successfully gone back and edited your Facebook profile, most people’s first profile pictures are usually somewhat embarrassing. But when I looked at my first profile picture, I wasn't embarrassed at all.

I didn’t get Facebook when it first came out in 2004, mostly because it was just for college students and I was still a fan of Xanga and MySpace. But I finally signed up for it after I graduated high school, thinking it was the appropriate social media tool for college students. The picture I chose for my first Facebook profile picture is a picture of me with my baby cousin on the day of my high school graduation in 2008.

I didn't think much of it then, except that my cousin was the cutest, but now that I look at it, I can't help but think of all the ways I've changed since this picture was taken. There's been a lot of growth since high school and it's interesting how many changes are obvious (to me, anyway) just by comparing my first and current Facebook profile pictures.

1. I went from relaxed hair to natural hair

One of the first things I notice is that my hair is straight in my first profile picture. In fact, I think that might be the last perm I ever had. It was also probably the best perm I ever had. I'd spent years perming my hair even though it left it damaged and breaking, just because I thought I was supposed to. It wasn't until I went to college that I realized there were other ways to take care of textured, kinky hair. I big chopped (cut off my relaxed hair) in 2010 and the twists that I'm rocking in my current profile picture are a protective style for my natural hair.

2. I've embraced my smile

I’ve had gapped teeth all my life and because kids are terrible and cruel, I’ve been self-conscious about them for a good chunk of that time. I rarely smiled with my teeth before a friend called me out on it in college, and in this picture I’m actually hiding my mouth behind my baby cousin. Yes, I’m not smiling in my current profile picture either, but that’s because I'm now...

3. I've proudly claimed my Resting Bitch Face

I don’t have to explain what I resting bitch face is, but I’ve had one since before there was a popular term for it. When the Doyin in the first profile picture was confronted by somebody to look "pleasant," I used to try to smile. But in the six or so years since that first picture was taken, I’ve have grown VERY tired of people misinterpreting my face and telling me to smile. My resting face is what it is, and the world will deal.

4. I've learned my camera angles

I'm not a professional photographer, but I've learned a thing or two about camera angles and what makes a good picture. Would I still post a picture of my cute baby cousin who is no longer a baby? Of course! Would I post a picture where my head is awkwardly positioned between a stranger's legs? Absolutely not.

5. I've embraced self expression

My septum ring and the lipstick I'm wearing are things that first profile picture Doyin would never have worn, but they're both parts of my identity now. As I've gotten more confident in who I am and how I want to express myself, things that I shied away from before, like facial piercings and colorful lipstick, now feel very comfortably me. Plus, I've let go of enough self-awareness to no longer fake humility about sharing a selfie.

People often like to talk about how social media has made us more conceited and shallow, and while that might be true, it’s also great documentation of how we’ve grown. Rather than looking through the family album to see how I’ve grown from an awkward teenager to a confidently awkward adult, my change and growth is just one mouse click away. When I look at past pictures of myself, I wonder if past-me would like present-day me. In this case, I think I would.

Images: Doyin Oyeniyi (3)