Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mirror, mirror...reprised

It is funny how we perceive ourselves. Every time I see my reflection or photograph I am startled. It is not the person I feel like inside. Part of it is age. Part of it is self-image. And part of it is the way I am feeling at the time. But still, the face (and the body) doesn't match my thoughts.

These are not new thoughts. Back in October 2004 I posted Mirror, Mirror.... In it I wrote:
" reminds me of standing on tiptoe as a kid trying to see my reflection in the toaster that sat on the kitchen counter. And when I could finally catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the mirror, I always felt a bit shocked. Because the face in the toaster was never the face I saw inside. As a boy, inside I always pictured my mature face and wondered who this boy was.

Now, as I age and look in the mirror, I still feel a bit shocked. Because now the face I see in the mirror is still not the face I see inside. Now as the lines on my face increase and my skin sags, I feel the younger face inside wondering who this stranger is staring back at me. "

I remember that time so vividly. It reminds me of all of the fantasy and science fiction plots where mirrors are just two-way windows (there's that word again) into other dimensions and maybe the face we are staring at isn't really ours. I'd actually be okay with that.

It's funny, you would think with all of the times that I've morphed my face onto other people and objects that I would be comfortable with the way it looks. And it dawns on me that perhaps this is why artists throughout time have painted self-portraits. Other than the obvious reason that you don't have to pay the model, it is a way to try and see yourself. And in seeing yourself, perhaps you can discover who you are.

The beauty of paint -- or in my case pixels -- is that if you don't like what you see, you can reshape who you are.

If it were only that simple.


Alex Pendragon said...

I've primped and posed in the mirror all my life, and have managed to find a satisfying visage on occasion, but then a picture is taken, usually candid, and I do not recognize that person. If that's the person people see when they look at me I am so embarrised. I have to admit I have a few pics of myself that I think are pretty cool, but sometimes I think some alien enterloper entered the picture as it was being taken and posed FOR me.........perhaps out of pity. I always wondered if drop-dead gorgeous people feel the same way.

Hayden said...

I've always felt somewhat alienated from mirrors. Never spent the time in front of them that girls were supposed to spend. Spent many years doing theater, making myself look like various people that weren't me - I really worked on that, trying to understand what that person must look like from the inside out. I have some pics of myself when I was young that amaze me now - I never saw myself as particularly attractive, but in some pics I was. In pics now I'm just as amazed to see the square, aging, rather stolid looking woman I've become. It all seems - disconnected.

JP (mom) said...

The vision of one's self (or lack thereof) is a fascinating phenomenon … I spent many years being startled by my reflection, due to a disconnect between who I was and who I thought I was … but now, I feel blessed that I’ve built a bridge of understanding and awareness.

Still, it is a funny thing to look at one’s self and not only see, but embrace, the image that is reflected back.

Brilliant post.

Time said...

THE Michael, "I always wondered if drop-dead gorgeous people feel the same way. Yes, we do. :)

Hayden, I've always liked the you you write (even if you used wear clown makeup)

JanePoe, I think it is cool that the you you see and the you you are are the same! I think it is a healthy place to be.

Hayden said...

(thanks tim)

Time said...

Thanks Cherish (especially considering the photo accompanying this post). I honestly believe we are who we feel like on the inside and that matters the most.

Naughti Biscotti said...

I've been contemplating your post for quite a while. I never felt particularly attractive but it didn't mean much to me either way. I didn't do anything to make myself more attractive either... a little make-up and that's about it. There was always something that seemed more important than my appearance. Always behind the camera looking out, always the observer. I never wanted to admit that anyone was looking at me.

I am starting to see some real changes in my face caused from age and stress. I thought I still looked pretty much the same until someone looked at an old picture of me in disbelief saying, "Ohhh my god, that was YOU???"
Now, I seem to be plaqued with thoughts about my appearance. I am seriously considering drastic means to return to my former self (as if that's possible).

Hayden said...

tim - I had to post on this subject too. so interesting.

shandi - ever consider that they might have meant that the current you is far more attractive? I'm sure I've said that to people before - because the young them was just so.... not as good.

Alex Pendragon said...

Tim looks good for HIS age? Hell, I got him beat youthful looking by a MILE! Shame it's an ugly youthful..........hehe

Alex Pendragon said...

Oh, and Tim, thanks for that one comment. That one, lone comment. That one, singular, the only one that was made period comment. I love you Man!

Time said...

I think it is actually healthier for people to be immune to how attractive they may appear. Especially since the out shell is a fleeting glimpse of only one aspect of self. Hayden is right, btw.

THE Michael, as usual, I'm at a loss as to what you are suggesting, but I love you, too, man.

Hayden, See my reply to Shandi.

Lights, Say hi to Mr. King. And having seen only that one photo of you in college, I think you haven't changed a bit.