Late last year, I wrote about seeing myself in an unflattering photo and realizing how much work I still need to do on my self esteem. Since then, I’ve been working hard with my therapist to build myself up a bit. As with everything in life, it’s a work in progress.
I have my good days where I’m strutting down the subway platform like it’s a catwalk, and my not-good days where I’m crying about how nothing fits the way I want it to. Thankfully, with some work, we’re trending toward more good days than not-good ones.
To give myself some perspective on the aforementioned photo, I went a bit rogue and looked through all the Facebook photos I hated most of myself, this time with kinder eyes, the way I would look at a photo of a friend. The results were very revealing: when I looked at the photos that way, remembering the time they were taken instead of focusing so much on my individual features, I saw that they weren’t really that bad.
Take the picture above, for instance. I used to only see my one squinty eye and my cheesy, too-wide smile. Now, stepping back and turning off the mean part of my brain, I see someone who’s having an excellent day at an apple festival (Fiona, is that what this was? I have vague memories of it being apple-related) during a lovely visit to England.
(And, yeah, I also see that the flowers I asked for when I got my face painted really look more like fireworks, but I feel like I’m allowed to say that because it’s the artist’s work I’m critiquing, not my actual appearance. I remember how jealous I was of Sasha’s awesome cat face paint and how I wished I’d asked for something cooler.)
I’ve also been doing some mirror work, which involves looking at myself in the mirror (clothed), hands on my belly, repeating an affirmation (mine’s “I’m worthy”, in case you’re in the market for one). The first few tries were pretty challenging (the first time I completely drew a blank as to what I was supposed to do once I looked at myself in the mirror and abandoned the whole thing; the second time I just started crying), but it’s getting easier each time.
Lastly, I’ve been trying to focus less on physical appearance in general, and more on the things that actually make me me, like my sense of humour and my empathy. Those are things that don’t change with numbers on the scale or bad hair days, and they’re also the things that the people who love you actually care about and cherish. And that’s where I want to get: to a place where I’m one of the people who loves me and cherishes myself.