I take the occasional selfie when I like my outfit. I'm not apologizing for that. I'm into dressing myself lately. It's fun and silly and I am fun and silly. I'm not really THAT self absorbed that I think what I look like means anything in the scheme of my life. But I do lug this person-costume around 24-7, and whether or not I put it on display for the greater internets, I have ever-conflicting feelings about it. I think I have a good sense of humor about my aging body for the most part. And after an initial hiccup I'm faring better at life-during-workout-hiatus than I had imagined, so I've got that going for me. I have, however seen a lot of pictures of me in the past week, and it's taken a concerted mental effort to not immediately go to a critical place when looking at them.
Before I left for vacation, I made a pact with myself that I wouldn't waste a second of my time thinking about how I looked in my bathing suit or anything else. It was way too short and precious an occurence to give over to the un-party inner critic, so I just banished her for the week. It was surprisingly easy to do. I just put on my bathing suit every day and went to the pool and the beach and didn't look in the mirror too much and I felt great. I had fun. And then I saw the pictures, which of course OF COURSE are awesome pictures. Every one a happy face, a great memory of friends having fun. And how fucked up is it that that's not the first thing I saw? Instead my eye went to my double chin, my bad angle, the endless parade of things I could pick apart. I SHOULD BE OVER THIS BY NOW. And I know it's human nature. But it's shitty human nature. If I know I am capable of turning off that uber malevolent Statler & Waldorf lady who lives in my brain for a short amount of time, why not all the time? And why do I still place so much emphasis on appearance anyway? There's a way larger discussion to stem from there but a more ambitious one than I'm ready to jump into today.
All is not lost though, because I've given those pics a second look. And a third/fourth/fifth. And by the sixth look all I can see is joy. A blur of gratitude that there is photographic evidence that I got to live what I lived and lived it well. Those smiles are genuine. There's something overridingly attractive about capturing a totally un-selfconcious moment. Ultimately, that's all I want to see. First glance, no work. The philosophy I made up years ago is that if a picture records a precious moment, I automatically have to stop caring if it's flattering to me. And I still abide by that. But the caring is still not automatic. I'm still working on it, and that will probably continue to be work for as long as I live. But I figure if I'm successful at seeing it a quarter of the time, that's something. I do come around, eventually.
Back to the selfies now. My little instagram experiment has helped me 1) identify my style and 2) with said style in place, to help me not to think about it so much. A weird little mobius strip of a notion. It's not solely because of any validation I get (it is nice to hear nice things, that's true), but a big part of putting myself out there, I think, is that it helps me to just see it and be like, "oh lady, there you are and get over yourself."
True story: I've identified my style icon at middle age. And it's every hapless heroine in every Hallmark Christmas movie. You know the ones. Those ladies can wear the hell out of a dress-and-cardigan combo. My love of these cheese puff versions of movies is already my dirty little secret, but now that it's out, here's Johnny, er, an example of what I'm talking about.