the writing and photography of Neil Kramer



Some of you may have noticed that during the day, I changed the photo at my last post from a stock photo to one where I am wearing the purple bathrobe.

This photo is me is un-retouched. No filters. No Photoshop. No flashy photographic gimmicks. I owe it to Sophia for pushing me into presenting myself au naturale. As I discussed two weeks ago, putting a photo of myself online is not an easy thing for me to do. Today, there was a war of words with Sophia over this photo issue, a back-and-forth much bigger than the one over the bathrobe itself.

This morning, Sophia woke me up. She was reading my post on her laptop. She thought the previous photo was a loser and the post would be better if it showed myself wearing the purple bathrobe. She suggested that we take a photo in the living room.

After she took the photo, I went into my office to check it out. I hated the way I looked and started to Photoshop it. I tried to reduce the size of my bed-head hair, and to eliminate my unshaven double chin.

As I worked with the zillions of Photoshop tools, Sophia stopped by.

“What are you doing?” she asked, in that certain voice that I know means trouble.


“You’re Photoshopping yourself again, aren’t you?”


“So, you look great in that photo. Why do you need to do this?”

For some reason, Sophia gets pissed at me whenever I try to fix myself in photos. She is of the belief that it is “unmanly” for me to be “so vain” about my appearance.

“What about when I take your photo?” I asked, ready to debate. “You’re always so picky!”

“That’s different. I’m a woman.”

“You don’t complain when I dress up.”

“That’s because you look sexy when you dress up. But it’s not sexy to have a man Photoshopping his own chin.”

“Why not?!”

“You’re a MAN. This is how a man looks. You’re not supposed to look all air-brushed. It’s so gay.”

“That’s an insult to gays.”

“OK, my apologies to gays.”

“Can I go back to my Photoshop please?”

I returned to Photoshopping my photo.

“Are you trying to photoshop your double chin?”


“Now it makes you look like you have goiters.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Let me try to use the blend tool.”

“Now you look like you have a tracheotomy. Why don’t you just photoshop in an oxygen mask?”

“Maybe I’ll take my whole head off and lower it over my chin.”

“Then you’ll look like a Hobbit. Is it really worth it? Don’t be so insecure, Neilochka. You look cute. Women will see the real you and will still go “ooh” and “ahh.” Just the way you like, I promise.”

“Are you sure you just don’t want me to look bad?”

“Why would I want that?”

“So, if we split up, I won’t date some hot blogger before you date someone else?”

“We have split up. Go date someone. Be my guest. You’re the one who doesn’t want to leave my house!”

“C’mon, Neil, listen to her – publish it. ” yelled my Penis. “Be confident.”

“You, too, Penis? I asked.  “But aren’t you worried that no woman wants to f**k a man with a double chin.”

“No,” my Penis responded.  “No woman wants to f**k a man who Photoshops his chin.  It’s not the size of anything you have, but how many times you can make her yell, *&@&% me again, you $@*&%$!”

“Your Penis is right.  Be a man,” said Sophia, nodding in agreement with my Penis. “This is what you look like, chin and all.  Accept it and be happy with it.”

Damn, Sophia was right.

So, Mazel tov to me. TODAY, I became a man. I published the photo — totally un-retouched.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: I Am So Over Boobs


  1. Rick

    Yours is such a complicated relationship, no? I tend to agree with Penis, and I have NOT Photoshopped my own wrinkles… I just cropped it really, really tight.

  2. malnurtured snay

    I was going to comment on purple being a horribly feminine color, and then I remembered: Baltimore Ravens wear purple and Sammy L.’s lightsaber in Star Wars is purple. You don’t get much more masculine than that — huzzah!

  3. V-Grrrl


    When I was in the U.S., I was photographed for the company Web site and Photoshopped to perfection. I hated that picture.

    I’m not without vanity, but there’s something to be said for the sexiness of being yourself.

  4. Baja Babe

    I think the picture is faaaabulous! It has a humanistic quality, a certain “je ne sais quois”…

  5. Bice

    You look like shit. Manly shit but still shit. The purple robe however… very hot.

  6. Ash

    See,now my husband would put a picture of his penis up there and photoshop that – stretch tool anyone? Well done you for not photoshopping yourself 🙂

  7. schmutzie

    Congratulations! That’s hard to do, let yourself be seen, when you’re used to retouching things. And Sophia was right: I still think you look cute.

  8. Neil

    Thanks, Schmutzie. I promise to at least shave before the next photo.

  9. Gabrielle

    Um, you know, not to belittle your angst over looking like you, but man, that purple robe just *pops* beside the green wall. Thus making you *not* look like shit.

  10. Alissa

    I’m cracking up at your penis and sophia “nodding in agreement” hahaha.

    Congratulations on becomming a man Neil! Is like having your Bar Mitvah all over again?

  11. Jennifer

    I’m sorry, there is just NOTHING hotter than a man in a purple bathrobe. The chin speaks to the world, saying “I am a man who is not afraid to show my vulnerability”. Unfortunately, the chin also says “I listen to my penis when it talks,” but I’m not saying that’s a bad thing!

  12. Pearl

    Rabbi Pearl: “Mazel tov, Neil. Yes, today you are a man. You have proven that unretouched photos speak louder than Photoshop. Humility, not humiliation, have guided you. Your technically-still-your-wife, and Penis, have proven that they speak louder than your own thoughts.”

    Neil: “Uh, Rabbi Pearl?”

    RP: “Yes?”

    Neil: “Do I still have to get up and read from the Torah, or will this post be enough?”

    RP: “You’re off the hook, Neil. Now let us all come together and say, ‘L’chaim, Neil. To life! (and blogging!)”

  13. Mist 1

    What a beautiful piece on body acceptance. I am moved. Deeply.

  14. Lynnster

    Definitely cute. And that purple bathrobe is so you.

  15. justrun

    Congratulations, to you and your manhood.

    (I know how that sounds, but I couldn’t help it.)

  16. better safe than sorry

    the first thing i noticed when i saw this pic was how natural you looked, i didn’t even notice a double chin until you mentioned it, i had to go back and look at it again. i don’t think you could have taken a better picture of yourself, there is nothing here that needs to be photoshopped.

  17. Not Faint Hearted

    I agree with Better Safe Than Sorry.

    I might be weird, and I definately don’t fit into a Hollywood stereotype, but those little smile lines you circled are my favorite part.

  18. Caryn

    Congrats, Neil — that is definitely a milestone. Although I wonder if you ever get the urge to give yourself a photoshop fu manchu mustache…

  19. margaret

    you know, there was a time when rather than photo-shopping the picture, some vain folks might have brushed their hair or shaved. neil natural is sexy!

  20. Rhea

    Rabbi Pearl, if this was a Bar Mitzvah, where’s the reception? I’m starving.

  21. wordgirl

    I’m afraid of Photoshop because, if I use it on pictures of myself, I might hate the way I look in real life even more than I do. I will say that women tend to overlook a man’s physical flaws more than men are willing to do the same for women. I’m not sure why, but there seems to be a lot of evidence for that. Not that you have any…um…flaws or anything.

  22. Heather B.

    For some reason it never ceases to amaze me that men can be just as vain and worried about there looks as women. Yet they just seem to hide it more.

    I personally think you look very handsome and intelligent.

  23. Finn

    You look fine. Better than Mr. Fabulous even. And I like that you’re smiling.

    How are we gonna get you Sophia back? She’s a very wise woman and very good for you, I think.

  24. Dagny

    Oooo. Someone said “reception.” Yes, where is the food?

  25. Non-Highlighted Heather

    We all love you. Just accept it, say thank you, and move on.

  26. wendy

    I’m on the fence on this one. The pic of you is fine, really intimate actually, for its honesty. But, for portraits..even vain self portraits, I think there is nothing wrong with a little touch of photo shop. When the great masters painted portraits of clients, even every day people, they presented an interpretation, the essence of the individuals beauty. You dont need to see every line and imperfection to so a person justice. To honor their unique and individual WOWNESS.

    The key is moderation. Some people have a real problem with moderation…in most things.

    You’re getting rather introspective about your appearance lately Neil.. I like that you admit this. THIS, dear quailty, is what really makes you attractive. No need to photoshop you’s doing just fine.

  27. whoorl

    I would like to know what shirt you have on under the purple bathrobe.

  28. Mr. Fabulous

    You are beyond adorable.

    Curse you for raising the bar for us all!

  29. Scarlet

    I did like the idea of lowering your whole head, haha.

    Not that you need to, of course. You’re a fox.

  30. reese

    This gave me a much needed laugh about nothing, love it.

  31. ms. sizzle

    i wish i had photoshop sometimes so i could fix up some of my pictures. heh. but i think the natural way is much better. less anxiety when you meet bloggers in person because they won’t be thinking, “where did that double chin come from and i thought he had perfectly coiffed hair?”

    you’re hot. embrace it!

  32. fringes

    I have Photoshop. I haven’t even figured out how to import a photo to be shopped. Help me, Obi-Wan-Neilochka.

  33. Neil

    Whoorl — I would love more than anything to lie to you, but since this post is all about honesty, I’ve been sleeping in Sophia’s “Betty Boop” sleepshirt all week because it has been so cold and none of my t-shirts are long enough to cover where it gets especially cold at night. That’s what I’m wearing under the bathrobe.

    Fringes — There are as many photoshop tutorials online as there are blogs.  Here’s a way to give yourself a soft glow, ala Dooce.   But I’ve seen your photo, and God did not create that perfection to be Photoshopped.

    Wendy — I like the fact that you disagreed with the obvious PC stance.   While you may say, “be yourself,” I wouldn’t be surprised if half of you already get Botox injections at age 27!  (Sophia’s Note:   That’s only in LA, Neil)

  34. Pearl

    Neil, first the panties and now the T-shirt!?
    People, it’s time to buy Neil Kramer some cozy, flannel, FOOTED pj’s. Sophia, lock up your drawers and closets!

  35. Jazz

    Oooooh, Aaaahhhh…

    I hate photoshopped pictures, unless it’s to do something really wierd. I’m sick of photoshopped models. I saw a magasine the other day with Nigella Lawson on he cover. She is HOT. I’m a woman and I think she’s hot. But she was so photoshopped I wouldn’t have recognized her if her name wasn’t on the cover. The woman is 47 and lucious, and yet she looked blah and boring.

    OK, sorry for highjacking. Rant over. And Neil? No more photoshopping.

  36. Karl

    You’re the man, dude. Purple bathrobe aside, of course. And your wife is giving you permission to hook up with hot bloggers? What are you waiting for?

  37. Jordan

    I am all in favor of the unvarnished truth (though, not to get all post-modern, but is there such a thing in a photograph?)…Having just watched the Golden Globes, I’ve been thinking about plastic surgery. Most of us have to put in a little effort with the hair and the clothes to be presentable. But imagine waking up one morning and going to the mirror and realizing, “Damn, gotta get a new face if I’m going to keep this gig!” Funky.

    (Thanks for your comments on my cat’s passing, by the way.)


  38. Jenn

    Wow. I just found your blog, and managed to “meet” the real you! Love the laugh lines… I am fast learning to love mine too… Great pic, fun post to read. I’ll be back for more 🙂

  39. psychomom

    Did you Photoshop a pocket onto your violet robe? It looks different than the photo on the 16th.

    P.S. Thanks for the comment, you are hero today.

  40. Joan

    I once photoshopped 30 pounds off my body, the only downside was that I looked 25 feet tall. It wasn’t that attractive. So I erased the background and put myself in a basketball court, it was all good after that.

  41. Neil

    This is turning in a series of posts about reality and fakery, isn’t it?

    PsychoMom — This is the real bathrobe in this post (or at least Sophia’s bathrobe). The other bathrobe from the 16th is from some stock photo.

    Jenn — The picture of the guy in the bathrobe is me. The guy with the laugh lines is a photo I stole from some photoshop tutorial.

    Should I change the first photo so it is clearer to a new reader? I don’t want people to think I have a double chin AND laugh lines. And no way would I wear those geeky glasses!

  42. fringes

    Neil, you flatter me so. And, thanks for the tutorial link. I want to learn how to doctor stock photos. I wanted to make those Mulamish dolls look ethnic and I couldn’t figure out how to color the faces. Stuff like that.

  43. Melissa

    I would never have noticed the double chin. And I love the print behind you.

  44. Churlita

    I still think you and Sophia should have matching he-said, she-said blogs.

    I don’t have photoshop, so everything I put out there is exactly what it is. I like people with all their rough edges exposed. It’s what makes them interesting and one of the many reasons I couldn’t live in L.A. for very long.

  45. Danny

    If I was more proficient in Photoshop I might be tempted to doctor photos of myself but I’d probably end up making myself look worse. I have a friend who works in post-production who once had to “stretch” every single frame of a Paula Abdul video to make her look taller and thinner. She also worked on a Michael Jackson video where she had to make some of his features look more human and even out his blotchy skin. Nothing is real anymore. I’ve noticed lately how we tend to think teeth are too yellow if they’re not that blinding fake white that we see from the bleached or Photoshopped choppers of actors and models. Oy.

    I couldn’t agree more with Churlita’s comment that Sophia should start a blog. Or maybe it should be a podcast so everyone can hear that exquisite accent. Or maybe just leave her as the perfectly juxtaposed “voice of reason” on your blog. Whatever the format, you two are a PR person’s dream couple–where is that sitcom pilot based on your relationship? Get on it, Neil…

  46. laurie

    I photoshop all my pics. I figure … what’s the point of being a professional graphic designer if I don’t get the benefits myself?!

    I think sometimes girls at SNB meet me and don’t recognize me because I’m not as skinny or tall as my pics… plus, I am actually a curly-haired brunette with three eyes. So I guess that throws ’em for a loop. hah.

  47. Erleichda!

    Very good! 🙂 Un-retouched men are cute. I’ve even told my Favorite Guy — who’s normally a caffeine-charged ass-kicking type — that he’s adorable first thing in the morning when he’s all squinty-eyed and mussy-haired.

  48. emma

    I love you just the way you are. You are super cute. I’m serious. Don’t photoshop a thing. Your penis was right.

  49. sara lee

    Photoshop is totally unnecessary for you!

  50. Eileen

    It starts with photoshop, then Botox, then your Nicole Richie. It is a bad slipperly slope. Get off. I like the glasses. It makes you look smart. Smart is attractive. It implies you could read up on thing or be trained in skills that make a woman go “#$%^ again!”

  51. Paris Parfait

    Sophia is a wise woman.

  52. Spinning Girl

    Let us all embrace our chins and wrinkles! For we are alive, and we will wear the scars of our full, full lives out in the open for all to see!

  53. Jenn

    aw damn…. you don’t have laugh lines?? guess I didn’t look at you that closely! maybe I’ll stop looking at my laugh lines too closely too!

  54. Javacurls

    No, no, no photo editing please!! If you get too carried away, the next thing you know you’ll be waxing your eyebrows so that they look like a women’s eyebrows. And that’s bad, really bad! I’m with Sophia! There is a sexiness about going ala natural!

  55. Karla

    After carefully inspecting this photo, I’ve determined that you photoshopped your penis. Shame on you.

  56. Eileen Dover

    I think you’re totally cute. I love the glasses.

    Your wife is very lucky to have a hot hubster.

  57. Diana

    You need to listed to Penis more often. You’re adorable. And the bathrobe looks cozy, no matter to whom it belongs.

  58. Janet

    I know that if you did touch up this photo the only thing you could possibly change would be the color of the bathrobe, right?:)

  59. rdl

    This is great!!!!

  60. Postmodern Sass

    Sugarplum, purple is my favourite colour. I would totally date you.

  61. an9ie

    Neil, you are a braver man than me. But then, I’m not a man. Sophia is right.

    Now, where is that Photohshop?

  62. triticale

    I am proud to say that I have never used Photoshop to improve any image I’ve posted. (I’m pretty good with Paint Shop Pro…)

  63. Miriam

    I don’t have to photoshop pictures of myself because I don’t post any pix taken after my high school yearbook photo, which was the way I prefer to remember myself.

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