Today has been declared “Love Your Body Day” by Ashley, a blogger at 2 Eyes in the Mirror. She posted a few questions to those interested in participating, and I figured I’d start writing based on them, and just kinda… let it drive me.
Have you ever felt like you focused too much on your appearance?
Oh yes, very much so. When I was in high school, there were a couple years that I didn’t go to school without a full face of makeup on–concealer, foundation, blush, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick–and throughout the day I’d touch it up with powder and lipstick/gloss. I spent hours perfecting (using the term lightly LOL) makeup tricks and techniques shared by Seventeen magazine, and regularly changed my nail polish, usually daily, to match what I was wearing. I kept up on the latest makeup trends and fads, and did my best to stay fashionable as well. Oddly enough, I never thought I was pretty. I just did what I thought I had to do to make myself look sorta pretty.
That said, I was aware of how skinny I was (I was 98lbs when I graduated high school, and 5’3″ tall). But at the same time, I was very self-conscious of certain things that (no doubt) only my overly-self-critical self noticed. But let me tell you, as someone who constantly ate in high school and had a crazy high metabolism, being told you’re anorexic and that you need to eat a cheeseburger, really doesn’t make things better. It makes things worse, actually. So thanks, all you people who think it’s necessary to tell skinny people that they need to “put some meat on those bones”… some of us literally can’t gain weight, and your comments just make us more conscious of the fact (though I will say that my metabolism has slowed down a little bit, though it’s still pretty fast).
How has society’s view of beauty affected your body image?
It’s back and forth for me. Some days, I feel great about myself, and other days, notsomuch. I blame the flip-flopping on society.
Sometimes, I feel inundated with images of beautiful, size 0 women who seem perfect in every way–no cellulite, no blemishes, perfectly proportioned, long skinny legs, tall… you know what I’m talking about. Yea yea, I know all the images are touched up and that those women are supermodels (thus the exception and not the rule), blah blah blah. But, when you’re down on yourself, it doesn’t matter that you know that. It’s irrational, yea, but often, I still don’t feel like I’ll ever measure up. And yet, at the same time, I often hear how tiny my waist is, how skinny I am, and how it must be nice to be able to wear anything I want and look good in it. For some people, I am as close to that ideal as it gets, and I should be proud of it and feel good about myself all the time. But there are other people who think I’m too thin, and they’ll comment (as I mentioned) without holding back, asking if I have an eating disorder or something, and that really fucks with your head too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful to have been blessed with good genes, to have the body I do and to have pretty nice skin and stuff. And yea, sometimes, I flaunt that I love myself, because I’m proud of it. And other times, all I can focus on is that I’m not perfect.
Ok, I’m rambling now. Bottom line? It can be rather frustrating feeling like you’re perfect in the eyes of many, but not feeling like you measure up to society’s actual portrayal of beauty.
When you look in the mirror, what’s the first thought you have?
I’m a geek. The first thing I typically do when I look in the mirror is make a face at myself, or fall into a pose, and examine how it looks. So I guess usually my first thought is something along the lines of, “well, if I put this hand here and my legs like this, does it work?”. Oy, this is the monster being a hobbyist model has made me.
Aside from that, the first thing I notice when I look in the mirror is usually the broken blood vessel on my nose, and, never-fail, I grumble a little bit at the sight of it. It showed up after a facial, courtesy of an esthetician I no longer see, and should never have happened. And yes, I’m still bitter.
How have you helped improve your body image over time?
Oddly enough, starting modeling has really helped improve my body image. Nothing makes me feel better about myself than seeing a beautiful image and knowing the person in it is actually me. In addition to that, I know a little bit more when it comes to how to carry myself to make myself look better, which sounds funny, but it really makes a difference. I’ve also learned what “trouble spots” I have, and how to focus people’s eyes away from them, as well as what to wear to hide what I view my flaws are and accentuate what I want people to see.
What simple things do you do that consistently promote a positive body image within yourself?
I’ve discovered that looking good means I’ll feel better about myself. I never leave the house without at least blush and mascara, because those 2 things make me feel “complete”. I also have really limited wearing sneakers, jeans, sweatshirts, and any other “college-wear” type clothes, because I generally don’t feel I look as good in those as I do in more “grown up” clothes.
Another thing I have stopped doing (as much as I can) is focusing on the problems I see with myself. Instead, I focus on what I am proud of or feel good about that day. So instead of looking in the mirror and thinking, “how bad does my cellulite look in these shorts”, I think, “look how great my hair looks today”. Or something like that. Basically, I try to not be a negative asshole to myself, and instead think positive thoughts and complement myself. That’s helped a lot too.
Have you always had the same opinion on your body, or has it been more positive or negative in the past?
My opinion about myself is better now than it’s ever been. I used to be very self-conscious and typically focused more on what I felt was wrong, and all that did was make me view myself as a total mess of not good things. Turning my view of myself around and focusing more on what I think is good has really helped boost my self-esteem. Sure, I have flaws, but everyone does, and it’s not a matter of eliminating them. Nope. Instead, you have to learn to live with them, and even to flaunt them when that “flaw” is something that’s unique about you.
And in conjunction with Love Your Body Day, I urge you to check out Project Progress. Project Progress is a response to the horrifying trend of suicides due to bullying. The goals of the project go beyond advocating against bullying to promote public support and expression of equality, acceptance, and social change. Ultimately, Project Progress seeks to provide an outlet for people to express their support for such values publicly, spreading the word through creative mediums such as photography and written stories of hope and progress towards a more understanding society. Check out the blog at Project Progress and be sure to like their FaceBook. If you have a story, submit it.