Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm looking through you...

I'm a little late to last Friday's FBFF questions about body image and blogging, but they're good ones so I wanted to make sure I had time to think everything through! And this weekend was remarkably busy, working on an art installation that is being put in tomorrow morning. A coworker and I designed a piece that requires hundreds of suspended, illuminated, vellum butterflies...they're going to be beautiful, I hope. This does mean I've spent most of the last week constructing butterflies and wiring them up in preparation. The laser cutter at the lab is my new best friend (along with my old best friend, the hot glue gun).

So, the questions! (I was going to include some pictures with this post, but I keep leaving my camera cord at the lab. Soon!)

1. Since you started blogging has your image of yourself changed?
Yes, I would say that is true... though I'm not sure what part is due to blogging myself, what part is due to reading terrific fashion/style blogs and seeing a wide range of people looking fabulous, and what part is due to other influences. I do think that my body image has improved over the last year since I started being more conscious of/playful with my clothing choices. During my first year in grad school, I had slipped into just wearing jeans/sneakers/a fitted tee. Now, I get inspiration from amazing people all over the internet, and am inspired to have fun with my own fashion choices. I do think I feel better when I am pulled together and have put some thought into what I'm wearing. (A related secret: I often make sure to dress up if I'm sick to compensate!) So, blogging here about my personal style has encouraged me to make the effort to wear things I feel great in, as I know that at least a few people will notice.

The first image of myself I posted on this blog, and a picture from an outfit post a couple of weeks ago. I think there's been progress both in the style and the presentation...

2. Are you self-conscious about any aspect of yourself? If so, do you go out of your way to avoid it or do you post it/talk about it anyway?
Now that I think about it, there's fairly few things I'm self-conscious about physically, these days. I suppose I'm mostly uncomfortable with presenting myself in a possibly over-sexualized way...which sometimes results in discomfort with low-cut tops or too-high hemlines. Because I have a somewhat curvy body, I find that certain clothing choices can have much more sensual/sexual overtones than they would on a slender figure. Maybe that's just my imagination, but I'm definitely self-conscious of it.

So do I talk about these things? I guess I do on occasion. I'm still exploring how much I want to reveal in what contexts for this blog (especially about my work-related life, as I would prefer this blog not be easy for professional colleagues to find). I know I also select pictures for based on the ones where I think I "look good," but I'm not sure I have much of a mental model of how those images differ from the ones where I think I look less good. (Okay, except for photos from a side view. There, my photo selection is definitely influenced how much my stomach is sticking out. I guess I'm uncomfortable about that, too.)

3. Based on how you are feeling now, what do you think the future holds in the evolution of your body image?

I think (hope!) I'm going to continue getting more comfortable with myself and my body image. I'm taking steps to make sure I'm keeping my body healthy, like my morning workouts. I'm also having fun experimenting with my self-presentation through clothing and style, finding more things that make me feel good and look good to myself. I'd be interested to check back with myself in a year, or two, or five, and see how my feelings compare.

4. Do you photograph yourself for your blog? If so, how do you feel about the experience when you're having your picture taken? If you choose not to post pictures of yourself, what prompted that decision?
At this point, most of my entries involve photos of myself. Sometimes these are taken by the boyfriend or by one of my coworkers, but most of the time by myself with a tripod. I'm not sure I like the experience of self-photography, though I'm pretty comfortable being photographed by others, which may have something to do with the albums full of photos my mother's taken over the years. I feel much more contrived and uncomfortable posing for myself, especially if I'm outdoors where I might be observed.

Additionally, it's been interesting to see how outfits look different when photographed...there have been things that I've felt great in and thought I looked really nice in that are much less flattering in the photograph. (And as I still have a lingering belief in the truth of photography, this can make me change my mind on my original outfit.)

5. What would you want every person who struggles with body image to
take to heart?
You are beautiful right now. You don't have to look like a model or the girls you see in magazines or that pretty girl next to you on the train to be beautiful. You don't have to be a certain weight or shape or height or size or gender. You don't have to wear certain clothes or shoes or fix your hair a certain way. You are yourself, and I hope you will learn to accept and appreciate that gorgeous self.

Also, you should read Already Pretty if you don't yet...

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