Thursday, April 22, 2010
I'll beg your indulgence once more, as I wanted to expand and clarify a bit.
First, in my family "fat" was shorthand for a whole raft of feelings and situations that had nothing to do with adipose tissue. When my mother said "you look fat in that" it could mean anything from "the sleeves are too short" to "the color is unflattering" to "the fabric looks cheap" to "the hem is uneven" to "I just don't like it." So even though my knee-jerk reaction was to fire up those old "look fat" tapes, what I really saw when I looked at the picture the first time was that my legs looked disproportionately short, probably due to the camera angle. But once the body-negative stuff gets activated, all of the rational analysis goes right out the window. (And despite my family's prejudices, there's nothing inherently wrong with looking fat. Being above a certain size doesn't preclude having great style. Selecting clothing that fits, works with our proportions, enhances our best features and flatters our coloring will do wonders for all of us.)
Another reason I've been reluctant to post modeling shots is that I don't want to give the impression of fishing for compliments. Some of the old "good girl" conditioning, I guess. Don't "toot your own horn." But I need to remember that I don't react that way when other people post these what-I-wore pics and I really enjoy seeing how people put themselves together, (usually I find it downright inspiring!) so I'm doing my best to let go of that bit of conditioning as well.
So many of us, it seems, place a thin film of expectation of how we "should" look over our own images that clouds and distorts reality. It's not our image that's the problem, but our own expectations of it. When I can lift that film and look underneath, often what I see is just fine. Many years ago, after a vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, my mother-in-law was sharing some pictures she'd taken. "Oh, you're not going to like this one," she said. In the shot, I was in a bathing suit, sitting in a very unflattering position. But I remembered that day, what a great time we'd had at the beach, and saw the look on my face captured in the picture: happy, relaxed. "Actually I think I look pretty good," I told her.