I have always had a problem with how I look, for as long as I have been looking in mirrors, I have been wishing I looked different.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look at myself and think that I am ugly, I am not filled with paranoia and self-doubt, I know logically that I look ok, but my inner critic is constantly wittering away in my ear, happily pointing out to me all my flaws, your forehead is too high, have you seen how droopy your eyelids are, why do you smile like that? blah blah blah…..
And when is she at her happiest? when looking at photos that’s when, oh my goodness, boy does she get loud when photo’s appear.
So, a few months ago I faced my ultimate challenge. In building my website to launch my life coaching business, the wonderful marketeer who was helping me only went and said those dreaded words “Jo, have you got any professional photos?”.
My inner critic was laughing her socks off, readying her armoury with all the things wrong with my face and rubbing her hands in glee at the fun she was going to have watching me squirm.
Off I dutifully went to get my professional photographs done, I found a wonderful photographer who I naturally felt comfortable with (well, as comfortable as you can feel when you don’t really like looking at your face) and awkwardly smiled my way through my photoshoot. Phew, it was done.
Then the fateful day arrived, the email that my pictures were ready, “don’t worry Jo, maybe you will look ok ……”
All of the photo’s were great, with just one recurring problem….. my face.
I quickly glanced through them, then shut them down, I’ll choose later.
That night when I got home, I sat chatting to the wonderful 17yr old Ben and told him my photo’s were in. He wasn’t really fussed, but pretended well at being interested whilst continuing to play the xbox.
“This one’s great” I said “this one with Lottie on”, “oh, don’t look at this one as my face looks stupid on it”.
Now, here is some insider information, the saying “out of the mouth of babes” should really be changed to “out of the mouth of teenage boys” because they just say it as it is.
So, momentary pause in xbox playing, slight audible sigh, “Mum, what is your problem with your face?”
Boom, just like that. What is the problem with your face?
Hang on a minute, what is the problem with my face?
No one is looking at me and physically recoiling, no one sees droopy eyes and a massive forehead, no one else thinks my smile looks like a snooty drag queen, no one else is thinking, oh what a great photo, except for the fact that Jo looks like she’s put on a bit of weight. And let’s face it, everyone else looks at my face a lot more often than I do!
Why, when we look at ourselves, do we search the image we get back for every imperfection we can find, every fault, every point where we don’t look like the imaginary, perfect image we have created.
Tell me, when have you ever looked at someone else the way you look at yourself?
After 45 years, that one simple question has sparked a change that I don’t think years of therapy would have ever brought about, you see I can’t answer with one truly valid reason for me to have a problem with my face. I have made them all up, none of them are real!
Suddenly when I look at photo’s I am seeing a different person looking back, I am seeing laughter, happiness, togetherness (well pre covid anyway), I am seeing memories and experiences, I am seeing nice hair, a happy smile, I am seeing family and friends, and I am seeing a face, that actually, I’m quite happy with.
So for those like me, who squirm when the camera comes out, who see’s the flaws in every photo, who avoid looking in the mirror more than they have to, or having the camera on in the zoom meeting. Maybe now is the time to ask yourself this same question “What is the problem with your face?”