Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Living Dead

This week has been "Doppelganger Week" over on the book of faces and you're supposed to upload a picture of a celebrity you've been told you look like to stand in as your profile pic all week. When I first saw this trend, I didn't think much of it. Like most facebook trends, I sort of just ignore them unless I feel as though the status-changing or something really matters. Around the election, for example, I was for it, even though I usually don't display my political leanings for the world (I grew up in a house where it was talked about constantly, but Mom taught us that it was sort of a private thing--who you were going to vote for--and didn't need to be displayed for the world). It's funny how these status changes are starting to become like forwarded emails. You get one saying "Here's a funny story. Now you have to send this along, too, to prove that you believe in the moral of this story and, if you don't, you'll die or have terrible luck...etc" or something to that extent. Now, it's more like "I love (fill in the blank) and I'm not afraid to say so. If you love (blank), as well, post this as your status for (x) amount of days!"...etc. You get my drift.

Last night, the question of doppelgangers came up at a get together Megan and I were at (pics to come). I hadn't thought too much of it until the conversation shifted in that direction, then I racked my memory for comments that began with "You look like..." For years, I didn't look like anyone and, in my childhood dreaminess, I believed that meant I might be meant for stardom: a unique face to light up the stage...or something like that, but then, around college, the comments started rolling in.

"Ya know. You look like that girl from that thriller, mystery movie. You know who I'm talking about...that girl?" I didn't typically know who they were talking about given that description, but eventually I came to learn it was none other than Ms. Ashley Judd. Not so bad, right? She's pretty beautiful and, while I don't see any resemblance, really, I'm happy to accept that I might have some similarity to her that I don't recognize. Our cheeks are different. Don't get me wrong, I have pretty enormous cheeks, but the bulk in Ashley's cheeks is set much higher than mine. Mine make my whole face round. Plus, her eyes are totally different. Not big and round, but narrower in shape. She has eyebrows and mine are barely noticeable. We've got similar colored hair, I suppose, but, for me, that's where the similarities end.

Most recently, a colleague of mine has been obsessed with calling me "Karen" after a character this actress played...

This would be Rashida Jones and the character would be Karen Filippelli from The Office. I'm not sure I really see that exactly either. We have similar hair/cuts and similar skin tone, but her nose is way better than mine (mine's a bit on the chunky side) and my face is definitely rounder while hers is more oval. I did start watching The Office to see what he was talking about, though, and have since had others make similar comments. I attribute the likeness to our clothes style--Karen Filippelli's and mine, that is. My husband has since agreed that it's not exactly Rashida Jones that I resemble, but Karen Filippelli.

But when the conversation turned to doppelgangers last night, it was inevitable that the person I've been likened to the most would come up. And she did, but in whispers and awkward asides to each other rather than aloud to me. I understood why no one wanted to state the obvious out loud, and at one point Megan cupped her hand over her mouth and said, "They think you look like that Brittany..."
Yes. This Brittany girl, God rest her soul. This, I can believe. We have a similar wideness at the end of our noses, like a triangle (only, in all fairness, mine is much fatter than hers). Our eyes are about the same shape and size, darker in the way hers are in this photo. We both smile...widely. A smile that takes up the better part of the southerly region of our faces. There are definite similarities and people used to say this all the time. Last night, however, no one really wanted to say it. At least not to my face.

When I posted the three above photos on Facebook today, the comments rolled in and the consensus was, in fact, that I looked most like Brittany Murphy. "Oh my gosh. You really do. You have similar eyes or smile or something..." "The healthy looking Brittany, not the coked up Brittany..." "I totally see it!" "It's true!"...and the comments poured in. I know. It's true. I've had students and friends claiming this about me for years, but now that Brittany is no longer alive, no one wants to say it out loud, as if I'm a walking apparition of the deceased and it might bode badly for me if they express our likenesses. Just think what it must be like for women who look even more like her than my vague likeness!?!

When I mentioned this eerie silence and awkward shifting that accompanied the conversation last night to Dustin, explained to him why no one wanted to say it out loud, he thought for a moment and finally said, "But what if someone looks like Marilyn Monroe? Or another long dead celebrity? Like Abe Lincoln or something? They're dead and people seem to be ok with that?"

While this is true, these specific celebrities died a long time ago. Their expiration dates have long since passed, whereas Brittany Murphy's is still so recent that, like two-days-past-the-expiration-day-milk, you can't really tell if it's ok to have or not...or, in this case, whether it's ok to liken a living person to a person that just died.

I say, why not? I looked like Brittany Murphy before she died and now I look like Brittany Murphy, who died. Just because she is no longer with us, it doesn't mean that an impending expiration date has been branded onto me. It's sad that she died, but even though I might share some similar physical traits that make us resemble one another, I'm not dead and I'm not Brittany Murphy. It's ok to say "Hey, you look like that Brittany girl..." but just keep in mind, you can say this out loud, to my face, because even if I do look a little bit like her, I'm not really her and our likeness won't jinx me.

I still think she was a beautiful girl and like to imagine our real likeness lies in the laughter and happiness we both seem to feel or share (though I hear at the end of her life, she wasn't quite as happy, but most people who worked with her claimed she was infectiously happy!). But, hey, I'll take Brittany Murphy as a doppelganger any day.

Rest in peace, Brit!

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