“Blue Mood” self-portrait
When I was a young girl, I looked in the mirror constantly. My dad and stepmother teased me endlessly about my fascination with my own face. My desire to gaze at myself was clearly uncomfortable to them. Once I reached adolescence, my innocent fascination was replaced by self-criticism. I picked my face apart, studying every percieved imperfection. I hated the shape of my face because it wasn’t like the oval shapes of the models on Cosmo. The asymmetry of my face bothered me and don’t even get my started on how I felt about my less-than-petite nose!
People often refer to my eyes and face as “feline” and tell me how beautiful I am. Having struggled with self-image issues like many American women, I’ve always had a hard time believing them. I have finally reached a point of seeing my own unique beauty and celebrating what is “different” about me. The very things that I once hated I now adore. Last year, I pierced my nose as way of celebrating the strength of my nose and my face in general. I have learned to love my high, wide cheekbones and my somewhat cat-like appearance. I don’t look in the mirror quite as often as I used to but I do take a lot of self-portraits. I want to see myself. I want to understand who or what is behind my intense gaze.
My self-examination has taken many turns. I have been in deep inner child therapy, done a lot of process art, gone through intense self-loathing and come out on the other side in a place of self-acceptance (and more!). I still have insecurities and things I wish were different. These things seem to take on less importance than they used to. Perhaps connecting the dots in my psyche and integrating the fragments of my inner being has helped me embrace my own reflection. The inner beauty that resides inside of me shines through in my appearance. The missing pieces are (more or less) in place, I feel more whole and it shows.
I’ve noticed that the more I love myself and see my own beauty, the more I celebrate the beauty of other people. I’ve been doing PhotoTherapy with a few clients and realize that we all have self-image issues in different ways. My clients tell me that being “seen” through my lens helps them see themselves in different ways and helps them embrace different aspects of themselves. It is my mission in life to spread love on this planet and help people live more authentic and empowered lives. Perhaps gazing at myself in the mirror led me to this path of helping others see their own truth and beauty.
The words of the song “Reflection” once rang true to me:
I will never pass for a perfect bride
or a perfect daughter.
Can it be I’m not meant to play this part?
Now I see that if I were truly to be myself
I would break my family’s heart.
Why is my reflection someone I don’t know?
Somehow I can not hide who I am though I’ve tried.
When will my reflection show who I am inside?”
My reflection finally does show who I am inside. The days of playing a part to fit someone else’s idea of “right” or living to please others are over. I embrace my uniqueness, my light and shadow and I live true to myself and take responsibility for my life and choices. I am finally back to the place of loving my own reflection and it feels great.