Inside Out Blog

What do you really look like?

What do you really look like?

As humans we form understanding from shapes. We understand familiar shapes and relate them to functions and to language. This is true of the face too.

I remember as a child being fascinated by a blind boy in my area, who was able to recognize people by feeling their faces. Years later I found out that sighted people do the same thing. We recognize people by the individual shapes of the face.

Your face is a mosaic, a series of small parts, all a reflection of those who came before you, your mothers nose, your fathers bone structure and your grandmothers eyes. All things that help people who know you identify where you come from and who you are.

Why would anybody want to change that?

The answer is both simple and very complex at the same time.

The complicated side of the coin is that we all have a GAP between who we think we are and who we think the world expects us to be. A difference in what we think we look like and what we think others see.

When we look at magazines and see celebrities looking happy, confident and well put together, we think that is what the world expects from us, yet when we see poorly lit photographs of ourselves, we notice the things on our face we don’t like.

That brings us to the simple side of the coin. That simple reason we hate ourselves in photographs. The Mirror effect and the FEDEX arrow.

 The Mirror Effect: When you see yourself day in day out, you see yourself in the mirror. This from the time we were children is how we see ourselves, this is what we think we look like.

As you do whatever it is your daily routine requires, brushing teeth, trimming eyebrows or beards, shaving or applying makeup, you localize your vision to the part of the face you are working on, The eyes, the nose or the mouth. Very rarely do we see the whole picture.

Not only do we look at localized parts of the face, we also animate our face, so things move and are reshaped in order to do what ever we are doing. Pulling the skin to shave, pouting lips to apply lipstick etc.

So how does this make me hate myself in photos?

What you see in the mirror is actually wrong. The you in the mirror is the wrong way round.

When you see a photograph of yourself, you see what others see… but with a difference. When you see a photograph, your brain tells you something is different.

As a human, we are thought from a young age to identify things that are wrong, things that are different in order to understand. When we see photographs of ourselves, because it is different, our brain wants to know why.

So we search this inanimate image, that doesn’t move, that doesn’t change to find something that will explain what is wrong. This is where we find our FEDEX arrow.

We have all seen the FEDEX logo, but very few people have seen the arrow.

(Between the E and X)

We use the FEDEX logo as an example because of the behavior it provokes when you see the arrow for the first time. Once you see it, it cannot be unseen. It becomes the first thing you see when you look at the logo.

This is like your face. It’s like every face.

Every face in the world has differences.

Look at mine. I have:

·      1 ear lower than the other.

·      Chunk missing from Right ear

·      Hair follicle on tip of my nose

·      Hair follicle between eyebrows

·      Heavy Right eyelid

·      Scar on left side of my chin

Yet none of these are the thing I see first in photographs. What I see first is that the left side of my mouth is slightly lower than the right. The funny thing is, I am the only person who sees it.

I have been together with my partner Vivienne for over 5 years, and only recently when I pointed out the chunk missing from my ear did she notice it.

We all have differences in our face. Both eyes are different shapes, both ears are different levels, both nostrils are different sizes and shapes. Yet not one of us walk around concentrating on the differences on other peoples faces. We do however see our own.

So what does this mean? It means that it is ok to have these things going on.

It means that you are the exact same as everyone else. You are as messed up as everyone else in the room and nobody has noticed.

Which is why plastic surgery causes me concern. Concern that nobody is telling people that despite seeing these things in photographs, celebrities and the people we see looking amazing in photographs under great light, with perfect makeup, who have been tutored on how to stand and look, still have to resort to spending money and suffering pain to destroy the canvas and the mosaic of those who came before them. The nose, the mouth and the eyes of those they loved and adored as children.

Courtney Cox 2015 courtesy of Getty

Courtney Cox 2015 courtesy of Getty

People spend so much time worrying about how they look in photographs that they become stressed before being photographed. Which then comes across in the images.

All because they are looking at the wrong things. 

Learn to see yourself as you really are. Learn to see others. We spend so much time telling children that it is what is on the inside that counts, only to forget that it applies to us the same.

How you choose to walk in the skin you wear is your choice. Why not embrace it? What other choice do you have?