Sloane Crosley: 'I'd rather have a root canal than have my photo taken'

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There are certain tricks all adult women are supposed to have mastered by my age. Most of them revolve around the delicate matters of maintenance and hygiene. Some revolve around the opposite – you should know how to use a power drill, how to negotiate, how rent a car, how to boil water.

But behavioural maturity requires little instruction. We grow up. Of course, I wouldn't be writing this if I weren't already thinking of a personal exception.

For me, nothing brings out my "born yesterday" idiotic qualities quite like having my photograph taken. This may seem like a small thing, being rendered uncomfortable by the camera, but in this age of social media and Google image searches, it's a real (if silly) part of everyone's life.

There is a way to do it well. Or so I'm told. When it comes to formal photographs, I have two faces: 1) embarrassed, self-deprecating and scrunched up to the point where I'm blind and 2) you just drowned my hamster and I'm pretty pissed about it. This involves a slackening of the jaw and relaxing of all my cheek muscles in an attempt to look like a "supermodel," although the effect is a closer to "coma patient."

Apparently having my picture taken also turns me rude: I have been known to inform a photographer that I would prefer to have a root canal.

Meanwhile, for candid shots amongst friends, there are apparently a whole slew of rules of which I am only marginally aware. One is to avoid ending up at the edge of a group and close to the camera when the flash goes off. Otherwise one's head looks like a watermelon at the end of a row of oranges.

Another is to cross one's legs so as to minimise knee exposure, turn one's head down while looking up and dear God what is that naked arm doing at your side? It should be jutting out as if trying to elbow an invisible friend in the gut.

So I attempt to throw myself at the mercy of all photographers, amateur and professional alike. "I'm sorry," I tell them, "I'm so bad at this. In other news, I can use a power drill."

Sloane Crosley is the author of 'How Did You Get This Number' (Portobello)

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