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Do You See What I See?

May 29, 2014

ExerciseMy Boring-Ass LifeDiet Talk

Perception, it’s a funny thing.

When you imagine yourself in any one of the various case scenario daydreams you indulge in during your waking hours, what is it you see?

How do you characterize yourself?

Maybe it’s fantasy and image crafting on your part, or perhaps you see a terrible person who’s not really there? Either way, your mind has a funny way of warping whatever reality there might be and bending it around an ego wormhole into a whole new dimension.

For instance, take today’s WTF moment.

As I was standing over my sink eating a tasty cake this morning, the wonderful construction crew working on our renovation kept engaging me in light conversation that was most welcome after my long commute. Then they offered me up this interesting nugget: apparently the local YMCA offers a “discount card” for people over 55 ……. [sound effect cue].

Wait, what?

I kept playing along to see if there was a sliver of hope, a mistake, bad lighting that ages people in the room by 20 years, ANYTHING to grasp onto.

But no.

These guys were deadly serious, either that or they would be devastating in a game of high stakes poker.

I was crushed.


Artist’s recreation of dufmanno’s self-image.

Trying to remain aloof and hold onto what was left of my geriatric ego, I slunk off and looked at myself in the most punishing mirror in the house. And no matter how critical I tried to be, I couldn’t see myself as anything other than a youthful wood sprite frolicking around in yoga pants and a dirty sweatshirt. I oozed vitality.

This incident gave me pause and I wandered back in time to my freshman year of college when the floor of my dorm threw an around-the-world party. The soiree made history and we all had a fabulous time. We made sure to document the evening on film and dropped the film off at the local film developing place (yes, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, we sent our film out for processing ). As we flipped through our photographic memories, my roommate suddenly started to weep uncontrollably..

“What’s the matter?” I demanded gruffly, not wanting her to sully my reliving the night by the power of film.

Through tears, she looked at me brokenly.

“Do I really look like that from behind?”

I will never forget that question.

To me, she was the hilarious comic relief to my cantankerous, scrappy pugilist; the gal that looked great in acid wash and could get her hair to stand up perfectly with only half a case of Aquanet and minimal damage to the ozone layer. But now, here I was, faced with telling her that she looked like she always had: tall, pretty and curvy. All she wanted to know was why everyone seemed to be standing in the shadow of her ass.

To be fair, my ass was twice the size of hers, but I didn’t care because I never had the misfortune of having to walk behind myself. This, however, was LIFE ALTERING for her. She never forgot that set of pictures and she swore to start a strict diet and exercise routine THAT DAY.

How we see ourselves is magnified in the internet age where we can carefully edit and control what part of our bodies and lives hit the public consumption assembly line. Facebook makes everyone look like they’ve got gorgeous children, attentive husbands, a firm ass, and a spotless house — the exact way everybody wants to be seen.

What lies beneath, though, is usually much more raw. A messier version of events that combine what we think we are and what we really want to be in others’ eyes.

Worrying so much about what people think about our choices, our bodies and our lives doesn’t help us accept our wants, needs and, ultimately, ourselves. It’s time we slowed down, saw ourselves in a way that helps us, not hinders us, and stop giving a crap what type of image we are leaving behind.

Meanwhile, I’ll be eating my tasty cake and contemplating the nature of who I really am while applying my wrinkle cream…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2014 12:00 pm

    It’s an interesting conundrum: I have a hard time viewing solo photos of me because I think my body looks very big, but in group photos I’m tiny compared to everyone else in the frame. I cannot seem to reconcile the disparate images in my mind.

  2. Twistie permalink
    May 29, 2014 12:11 pm

    Mr. Twistie was twenty-eight when a server in a restaurant asked him if he wanted the senior discount. Photographs from when we started to date (when he was twenty-six and I was twenty-three) look like a dirty old man and his Lolita.

    I was twenty-seven the last time someone asked me how I was enjoying Junior High. And I was forty-six when I was asked if I wanted the senior discount at the movies… but at fifty-one, I still sometimes get told by someone in their late thirties that I’ll understand stuff better when I get to their age.

    Perception is incredibly surreal sometimes. Perhaps that’s why I’m such a fan of Salvador Dali.

    • May 30, 2014 4:02 pm

      *Totally off-topic*
      I just needed to say that even though I don´t know you personally and probably we probably live in opposite sides of the world, every time I see you left a comment somewhere, I go all “Hey! Twistie!!” as if I´m meeting an old friend. (I swear I´m not a creepy stocker or anything, I just really really like you)

      • Twistie permalink
        May 30, 2014 6:34 pm

        Pull up a virtual chair and have a virtual scone, Gi Csome! I’m really pretty approachable, and I don’t get creeped easily.

  3. May 29, 2014 1:38 pm

    I love this post! Especially the part about the perfection of Facebook personas. My whole goal on social media is to be transparently me…flaws and all. It isn’t pretty, but someone has to do it.

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