Body Image -- Getting Over It

I was just asked to provide a photo of myself for an article. I wish I could have gotten away with sending the one on the left. That was taken in London a year before my oldest niece was born -- she just turned nineteen.

If you had asked me for this photo twenty years ago, I would have balked. I'd have said it made me look too fat, too old, too tired, too frizzy... Now I look back at the photo and think, "Now that's back cover material! Alison Bruce, Woman of Mystery."

I wish those Dove commercials had been around when I was growing up.

Now, and I will be the first one to admit it, I hide behind cartoon self portraits. It started with "Coffee Girl". Note that she isn't skinny. I got over the "must be skinny" phase decades ago. In fact, I have a bad habit of offering unsolicited advice to strangers talking about the latest fad diet -- especially if they've teens.

"I dieted myself to my current weight," I tell them. And it's true. At age sixteen I was a curvy blonde bombshell that saw herself as a fat girl. If I could go back in time, I'd give that kid a slap.

Maybe when I'm eighty-something, I'll have the same thought's about the current me.

So, no skinny cartoons -- but no Bell's Palsy either. I have to admit, that's the sticking point picking a photo these days.  No bow-lipped pout for me. If I don't smile, I look grim; if I do, it's all too obvious that one side of my face doesn't work as well as the other. Yet, when I spot other people who have had Bell's Palsy -- Jean Chretien comes to mind -- I recognize it without thinking it mars their looks. I'm just hard on me.

I suppose the bottom line is, I don't see myself the way I look in photos. Mirrors are kinder. (Except first thing in the morning, of course.) The reflection of myself in the eyes of my children, friends and family is even better. That's how I need to see myself -- the way they see me.

It's a work in progress. In fact, I'd say I have it covered until I have to supply a photo for something.

 Post Script....

I've decided that I really need to get myself a trench coat and fedora... or maybe a riding coat and a Stetson for when I write westerns. In the meantime, this blog led to my niece Sophie making me pose for a new profile photo.