Body image

Can You See the Real Me?

The Who - Roger Daltry

The Who – Roger Daltry (Photo credit: Scott Ableman)

Sounds like I’m going to be naval gazing again today, right?  Not exactly.

I was on the elevator earlier, saw a young, hip couple that live in the building. Very East Village looking, big gages in their ears, cool drapey clothes in black and odd prints, etc. We said hello, and I mentioned how much Flower Child loves seeing them; the young woman has excellent style, and there’s nothing Flower Child loves more than inspecting a young woman who’s styling. Not to be confused with stylish. They both laughed, said thank you, then told me they often admire her style.  Understood, her closet isn’t so much a closet as a costume department. What they didn’t say was what I saw stamped across their pierced faces…where did FC get her style from? Certainly not me.  Not Husband, either.  He used to be quite the snappy dresser, but no one would have ever accused him of cutting edge fashion sense.

I’m actually pretty good at knowing what will look good on other people, how far they can push the envelope to make a statement.  For me, not so much. This all started me thinking about “seeing” myself. Physically. I’m terrible at it, and I wonder, is it just because I’m not especially visual? Is it an American thing? A female thing? An adoptee thing?

When I took psychology 101, I learned about a study that had been conducted, showing photographic representations of the different ways one woman was perceived.

[ M ] Johannes Adrianus van Maanen - Self-port...

[ M ] Johannes Adrianus van Maanen – Self-portrait with a girlfriend in a funhouse mirror, France (1947) (Photo credit: Cea.)

How she saw herself, how her husband saw her, how others saw her. My money says she was divorced within 6 months of the study being published. But, whether these perceptions are positive or negative, this made sense to me, and it still does. I’m very lucky in this regard.  Husband and I met when I was about 14, and I’m pretty sure that he sees me forever the way I looked when I was about 19. Well, plus the gray hair, which he likes and doesn’t associate with aging, since many in his family are noticeably gray by their early twenties.

We all know about body image issues, the way perceived flaws can appear tremendous and exaggerated to the one looking in the mirror. Who among us never had a zit we saw as the size of Mt Everest?

But, where I seem to differ from friends is that I can’t see myself in other people, either. I hear all the time that Nerd Child looks exactly like me, “Did you make him by yourself?” I know we’re shaped similarly (why yes, I could be confused for an adolescent boy from behind); we both blow out the right knee of our jeans before anything else, both have long inseams for our respective heights. Man Child I hear about his eyes and mine, and Flower Child, while not considered a carbon copy, I often hear she looks a lot like me.  I don’t see it. At all. I see the similarities and differences between the three of them. I see Mother In Law’s dimples on one, Husband’s chin on another, but me? Don’t see it at all.

Do you/can you see physical resemblance to yourself in others?

English: Vogue magazine cover, May 1917 Españo...

English: Vogue magazine cover, May 1917 Español: Portada de la revista Vogue correspondiente a Mayo de 1917 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)