A lot of people have self-image issues. Me too. I can look in the mirror on a given day and see reality has set in. The image of me that I have in my mind is of a 12 year old boy. Skinny, 70s haircut (in the early 80s), bell bottom or high water pants, hand-me-down shirt, tobacco stains on my teeth and fingers. It’s not reality, but it’s the main psychic self image that I project, why? I have no idea. But I rarely think of myself in any other way. The crows feet around my eyes, the gray hair in my facial hair (or even more disturbing the first few times – gray pubic hairs – Oh no!) and on my head, the sagging here or the sagging there… It’s not just the aging thing – it’s comparing ourselves to the outside world or the world of Hollywood. Yeah, that’s a wise move for mental health, comparing yourself to celebrities.
On Wednesday I dressed up for work, normally I wear jeans and a t-shirt. I had a few errands to run and later would be shopping for a suit at Macy’s so wanted a white shirt on to get the full effect of the image. On the way to the office I had to make a couple of stops, both work related, and was complimented on how I looked by a few different people and even had a few give me the once over. I had my friend take this photo the same day. While suit shopping after I had left the office two guys flirted with me at Macy’s, and Al at Annie’s was almost in a tizzy and said I looked great – my standard response there is “so you’re saying I look like crap every other day?” Al didn’t take the bait, but said you normally just come in looking “usual”. Hmm, I thought….
When I had a chance to upload the photo to the iMac I took a look at it and saw all the things that everyone else missed. I see the belly that makes me look a bit pregnant, a gap in-between my teeth that makes me look rural, the receding gray hairline, and a wrinkly shirt. I don’t usually smile in photos so hate this one just like all the other ones that I smile in. That’s just how I perceive me – I have a poor self body image, so do a lot of folks.
I went so far as to put this photo on a few online dating sites I frequent and a lot of guys had very nice complimentary things to say about it, a few people who have seen photos I like of myself said they like this photo best – my perception is rarely reality, or maybe these guys have been doing a lot of hallucinatory drugs or losing their vision – I vote for the later.
I have a friend who is the skinniest person I know who thinks she is fat on occasions, works out constantly and guys cruise her all the time, maybe her self image is of the girl she used to be. I have a friend who’s a big sexy black guy that so self conscious about his body that he wont come to Zumba with me as he thinks folks will not want to see him there – he’s not a freak show, he’s a big sexy guy (lose weight or don’t, you’ll still be sexy), but maybe he can’t get past his self-image – I can’t, so who am I to judge. Yet another friend is trying to grow her hair out after chemo took it all last year, it’s a slow process and the hair is having a mind of it’s own, this frustrates her a lot, but her hair is such a small part of the whole package of her and those of us that know her think she looks great all the time – however I still give her a hard time about the hair, cause I love the reaction.
We are who we are, whether we can see it in the mirror or our minds eye or not. Should we be healthy, I guess… but even then that may not change how we view ourselves. So I might be getting a belly, might have a gap in my teeth, I certainly have gray hair all over the place. I am who I am, I can change some things about that sure, but I’m probably always going to look inside of myself and see the skinny kid with the welfare glasses and paisley shirt.