It’s that moment when you see a picture of yourself and your stomach sinks and your head feels light. You can’t believe you really look like that. You’re angry at yourself for not wearing sleeves, even if it was a hundred degrees that day. You vow you will never go outside without wearing sleeves again. You start looking online for hair extensions or possibly a wig.
I am so sick of that moment. It happens to me all the time. As a musician, there are a lot of photographs and videos involved in what I do. And when I’m filming a video, there are a) the things I SHOULD care about, like the accuracy of my pitch or the artistic integrity of the shot, and there are b) the things I DO care about, like how close I can get to looking like Emma Watson. I have spent hundreds and even thousands of dollars on videos and photographs that, after hours of hard work, I have tried to erase from the internet, just because I was disappointed with how I looked. Believe me, I am ashamed of this. I want to be like Lena Dunham, eating cake completely naked, not giving a f*&K. But as it turns out, that’s a lot harder than it looks.
This weekend I had yet another bad photo moment. The unflattering image stuck in the back of my mind for the entire day, humiliating and distracting me. It stuck with me when I got ready to go dancing and none of my clothes fit right. It stuck with me when I took off my jacket at the club and could not stop thinking about my exposed arms. The image was tormenting me while I was trying to dance. It made me feel heavy and stupid, and I finally just gave up and left the dance floor. But as I waited in the never ending line for the girls bathroom, something struck me.
I was watching the other girls watch themselves in the mirror. They were all beautiful, and yet I saw in their eyes the same disappointment I felt when I looked at the terrible photo. They were poking and prodding at themselves, and whimpering to their friends. Whatever these girls were inspecting in the mirror was completely invisible to me. All I could see were amazing women in stylish outfits.
Suddenly, I felt much lighter. Maybe to these girls, I looked like an amazing woman in a stylish outfit too. Maybe the monstrous versions of ourselves we see in the mirror or in photographs are only visible through our own eyes. Maybe we’ve all been hypnotized to see the worst parts of our bodies and ignore the rest, but what we see isn’t the real thing. It’s just a cheap magic trick meant to keep us down. Maybe if I count backwards from three and clap my hands, we will all snap out of it and realize that we are all amazing women in stylish outfits.