Mirror Image

        What do you see when you look in the mirror? I got to thinking about this when after finishing a half marathon on Sunday I looked at a picture taken of me during my post race ritual (chugging a beer at the top of the art museum steps like a lady) where I was revolted by my own image. I didn’t even see the joy on my face laughing at the fact I celebrate a feat of athleticism by chugging beer. All I saw was how fat and unattractive I looked. I immediately was taken out of the moment by my own self criticism. The joy was completely deflated from me, unlike my body which was still inflated to full size. I know this because all day all I could do was look in every mirror I passed and mentally berate myself for getting so fat. I had become the beast….except instead of a magic old lady witch cursing me, I had been cursed by cheesesteaks and beer!

        No that we have taken that moment in my head – yes it’s a scary place – let’s check back into reality. I was wearing a fluffy white rain jacket over my pasty white skin from a terrible angle while the wind was blowing. That image doesn’t honestly represent how I look, or how I feel for that matter, yet I can’t shake it. I keep looking at this image and then looking at myself in the mirror and it doesn’t compute…but if I look fat in the picture I must me missing something right? Here is the image in question – taken post Love Run half marathon on Sunday:

                                      steps

 

Here is an image of me right now sitting at the little bar I work in typing my little heart away on this blog:

                                      barliz                

        So I set out to see how other people feel when they look in the mirror. I reached out to a whole lot of my friends (who are amazing btw) and asked them to write a couple sentences about what they see when they look at themselves in the mirror. Those were the only instructions. What I thought I was going to get was everyone tearing themselves down and nitpicking little things they wish they could change or didn’t like about themselves. Which, I did get some of….but……I got an overwhelming amount of positive responses and people who have embraced their body. Better yet don’t even see the body when they look at themselves, they see all of their personality traits, goals, and successes as a person. Y’all, I love my friends and to be perfectly clear – they are all beautiful, perfect, angelic creatures who I adore.

When I look in the mirror I cannot, not see my mega chunk thighs full of stretch marks that will never disappear despite every remedy the intraweb has to offer. I see a permanent slouch because I’ve never fully embraced my above average height but most importantly I see a young woman who’s okay with being awkward as hell most every day.”
Female – 26 & ¾

When I look in the mirror I try to look past the flaws I’ve designated myself– big nose, crooked teeth. It’s so much easier to see what’s wrong versus what’s right. It’s a daily battle.”
Male – 28

The things that I would think would bother me, generally don’t. I am bald and short and overweight, but somehow I usually don’t mind what I see in the mirror. Insecurities creep in, but they are manageable and lessen when I do good things for myself: Exercise, eat well, etc
Male – 43

When I look on the mirror, I see a husky shell of a man who was once a recruited college athlete. I see someone who is a great husband and is very happy with their life but who has become content with his physical appearance and general inactivity. As children we tell ourselves that we will never bet fat or out of shape; but we don’t fully understand the reality of life, yet. It beats you down and it takes a strong will to overcome how easy it is to settle into a routine and become 50 pounds over what you should be.  I’m disgusting.”
Male – 31

When I look in the mirror I see a work in progress. A mom trying to get comfortable in her own skin. Someone who stopped trying to make herself fit and mold and accepted her body for what it is. That her body shows the beautiful journey of two babies.”
Female – 36

When I look in the mirror I see who I think I’ve always related myself to – a strong athlete. Lately, I’ve been admiring my awesome traps and poppin; quads; I’ve even started to notice my booty looking fine too. Now, I do have my bad days where I see nothing by what I call my ”kangaroo pouch” type of stomach or the “flabby bits” here and there. Body image has not always been easy for me to deal with as I think it can be difficult for a lot of people. But, as I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone through fitness, work, and relationships, on most days I see who I truly am – a strong ass woman ready to take on any weight lift, task or bump in the road that comes my way.”
Female – 29
**The person who sent me this email used the subject, in all caps, “I LOOK HOTTTT” and I think that’s worth mentioning we should all have that self confidence**

I struggle from time to time looking at myself. I know how much I’m capable of and yet, somehow I keep getting in the way of myself from long term achieving the body image I’d like. I’ve been there and done it and somehow it gets away. As I get older it doesn’t get easier having to rebound. At this point though with where I’m at, I feel determined.
Male – 28

“String bean, that’s what I see when I look in the mirror. Sometimes it bothers me, sometimes I’m like…lets rock this skinny body! I like some parts more than others, which is, I assume, how everyone thinks. I like my face (is that weird to say?) but I’ve never felt very feminine. I’ve got no hips and small boobs. I will say that I never feel like I’m allowed to complain about what i see in the mirror because there is always someone with bigger “body-liking issues” than me, it has always felt alienating.”
Female – 26

So what I see when I look in the mirror is someone who is hardworking. Someone with goals in life who is trying to achieve them. Someone that loves hard and often gets taken advantage of because of their kind nature. Someone who has more to love, but is comfortable with themselves.
Male – 29

Looking at mirrors is like getting my picture taken: I avoid it at all costs. I hate the way I look, especially knowing what I can look like when I’m in shape
Male – 25

When I look in the mirror I see a strong woman. I see someone who isn’t as thin or pretty as she used to be, but i’m OK with that. I have found my strength and my attitude matter more than my looks, and i am perfectly fine with that.”
Female -51

When I look in the mirror I don’t see beauty unless I have makeup on. I see muscle and a strong woman but also someone who is unhappy in her skin, although I try and accept my body for how it is flaws and all.”
Female – 29

When i look in the mirror I smile at myself, because when you smile at yourself you are smiling at the world. No matter what problems you have, you never know who’s day you could make by giving them just that little bit of positivity.”
Male – 31

When I look in the mirror, I see a “fixer upper”. I would really be pretty if I….just got rid of this double chin, lose some weight, really took the time to put makeup on, and maybe had a little botox, I compare myself to unrealistic standards and beat myself up because I fall short. Looking in the mirror is definitely my least favorite thing to do.
Female – 42

When i look in the mirror i see a guy who is trying to hold on to his physique and I think I am doing a pretty good job, but then I see the flawed areas and want to hide them underneath loose fitting clothes. I see a version of my dad that I’m not happy with, but I also see a version of my dad that I’m proud of from what he taught me.Sometimes I see the guy my wife sees, and it makes me smile because I’m a lucky guy that she sees me with my faults and loves me still.
Male – 52

In the morning when I wake up I spend the majority of my morning avoiding the mirror, and when it comes that time to finally face myself my mood changes. I don’t see who I feel I am. I see a large nose that steals the attention and a double chin I’ve never had until now. I see arms that need to be covered so the jiggle isn’t as prominent, and a mom pooch that looks like i am 4 months pregnant, and thighs that will soon ooze out of the side of my chair when i get to work. Then i begin to worry about my outfit and if it will hold up to all the movement I will be doing during my day, and if it will do it’s job hiding all my flaws and jiggles.”
Female – 26

A weathered figure. A meat puppet. A conglomeration of knowledge, experience, and memories. So much potential squandered, so much potential remaining.”
Male – 28

When I look in the mirror I see a strong body, one that I have sacrificed countless hours of hard work to build. Stretch marks and cellulite on my legs and butt that showed up like unwelcome guests to my 6th grade puberty party. Lines that started to appear under both my eyes and creases on my forehead. Lines that I swear appeared out of nowhere on my 26th birthday. My nose – my favorite physical feature. It’s not perfectly straight or small and quaint, but it’s my grandma’s nose and because of it I will always see a little bit of her in me.
Female – 26

When I look in the mirror I see flaws. I see fat stomach, a face full of adult acne, and a million reasons why I am alone. I see someone who wishes she could love herself more completely, and fights daily to get better at that. I see a work in progress.”
Female – 28
        These people gave me pause to wonder why they don’t see what I see, and in some cases, why I don’t see how they see. The next time you look in the mirror and see a million things you don’t like or that bring you down – do me a favor. Search for one thing you love. Your white teeth, your beautiful hair, your smize, the triceps you have been working so hard on, your attitude, something funny you said, a nice thing you did for someone else, and focus on that. All the negative in the world will overwhelm us if we let it. Our only option is to choose to focus on the positive no matter how little you think you see and feel. I promise that you are the ray of sunshine in someone else’s life.

 

Smooches,

Liz

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