There’s a saying: “She’s hot-but her face.”

In today’s society, women feel pressured to be beautiful, to be young, to lie about their age lest someone think they’re too old (for what, I’m not sure). We eat well, we work out, and yet as we age, it becomes harder and harder to stay in shape. As we grow wiser with years, our face seems to betray us. It wrinkles, sags.

Frown lines can make us look angry even when we’re not. Perhaps our under eye circles make us look tired or ill.

So we Botox our frown lines, inject “dermal fillers” in our cheeks or nasolabial folds. For a while, we may be able to trick our face into looking like it’s us at a more youthful age, the age at which we think we are until we look in the mirror.

If you look online, you can find “butterface” in slang dictionaries. Sadly, there are sites that even have pictures of lovely young women who have great bodies, but their faces won’t ever be seen on a magazine cover.

She’s hot. But her face. You’d be better off putting a bag over it.

This notion struck me for some reason about 6 months ago, and I immediately wanted to make a papier-mâché head. One day, my 4 year old son and I looked it up online, and we proceeded to make a very sloppy, disgusting mess  lovely brown paper bag head out of flour, water and a balloon. It took a really long time to dry, a few days. I think we used a little too much mâché and not enough papier.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my little peanut head could not really fit into the balloon head. I scratched my neck up trying to get it on, so I cut a slit in the back so I could wedge it onto my face.

A few days later, we had a little break in the winter weather, and I went to a beautiful location with my grand idea of a fancy woman with a flowing scarf and paper head. It was a little tricky getting the photos, see, because I couldn’t see. And I looked a little odd with a paper head and no hair. Well, odder than normal with a paper head, I suppose.

The photos just didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I put tons of thought over the next into what I wanted to do and decided I wanted a closer up shot than full body with a long gown. And hair, I definitely needed some locks. Nothing just seemed to click. My husband rolled his eyes every time I said, “no” when he asked me if he could throw away my “head”.

Last night, it finally hit me. I was going to do a fashion type shoot, set up lights in the basement studio, the works. Rain had made shooting outdoors over the past few days impossible. Imagine my surprise when this October day turned out to be not only sunny, but nice and mild too.

Over lunch, I modified the head by cutting off the back of it and around the ears so I could actually get it onto my noggin without lopping it off. I cut little holes in the side by the ears and tied an old shoe string on each side so I could take the mask on and off more easily. After each modification, I’d put it back on and take a photo with my cell phone to see if it was going to work out.


The wig that I had purchased the day after Halloween last year was a little ratty looking. Attempting to brush it didn’t help all that much. An undo didn’t seem possible, so it went into a loose braid.

The trick about doing self portraiture with a mask that has no eyeholes is that you can’t

  • see where you’re walking
  • see where your camera is
  • point your remote in the proper place
  • breathe fresh air. I rather sounded like Darth Vader.

So I cut one little eye hole into it that I thought I would just have to clone out in post.


Here’s me trying to look through the little eyehole, point the remote and hold the wig on.

I really didn’t have to do much in post production. My head was turned to the side already, so you couldn’t see the eye hole.

After I took a bunch of photos that looked great (if you take out the fact that my elbow was missing in most of them) but didn’t work, I finally ended up with the one you see above.


Butterface. What’s the solution? How about “She’s hot and interesting / witty  / wise / talented / capable / a great mom / provider…”