In my last post, the first of what promises to be an epic series, I confessed to a serious wardrobe identity crisis. This led to me biting the proverbial bullet by showing you pictures of what I really look like, body-shape-and-size-wise. (And thanks to all of you for your supportive and empathetic comments!) Today, I’ll show you what I was inspired to do with those photos to help this process along.
Already this process is leading me in unexpected directions. After finishing that last post, I suddenly felt much better! Could it be possible that simply facing up to what I had thought of as the truth about the way I look actually steered me straight? As I suspect many of us tend to do, I had fallen into the habit of focusing on what I perceived as the negative aspects of my body.
But after looking at those photos for a while, it occurred to me to think of it like this: What if that was a friend of mine, who had come to me for wardrobe advice? Would I be telling her that she’s too thick in the middle? Her shoulders are too narrow and her rib cage is too small for her bust? Of course not. I’d be telling her to focus on her assets, and dress to make the most of them.
So why am I not doing that for myself?
Why is it so much easier to see only the negatives about ourselves? Think about what we’re really telling ourselves— what? We don’t deserve beautiful clothes and stellar personal style unless our bodies are “perfect”? Craziness, I say. Yet I’m guilty of exactly this kind of thinking. And that’s part of what I’m trying to make over in myself right now.
Truth be told, I had to kind of force myself to give my body some positive reviews in that last post. But as soon as I’d done that, I found I was actually looking at myself differently. It seemed much easier to see myself with some objectivity, instead of the whole guilt/blame/critical viewpoint. (Ugh… sounds awful, doesn’t it?)
If I met someone today for the first time, she wouldn’t know that I used to be thinner, or what I looked like when I was younger, or the style I cultivated in my twenties. I decided it would help me to look at my pictures dispassionately, much as that new acquaintance would, or for that matter, the way I look at someone I’ve just met myself: as they are in this moment.
Here’s the experiment I’m trying. I’ve taken the same photos from the last post, done some Photoshop* magic with them, and basically turned them into paper-doll-like outlines; this immediately makes me see the shapes less personally.
Tip: I’ve made these images a pale grey so that when I print them out, I can sketch directly on them. Another way to achieve this effect outside of Photoshop is to simply reduce the opacity of your images before printing; something like 20% opacity should be about right.
You can also use tracing paper if you just want to work with outlines (below).
Now I can sketch design ideas directly onto my traced outline (using a different color), or put my printed image under tracing paper, and sketch the designs over it. (Note on my sketching ability: Let’s just say I wouldn’t be the first one you’d choose for your Pictionary team. But at least trying to draw things will give me ideas about what might work for my body.)
Continuing the good (if not entirely painless) work started in my first post of this series, I am feeling much more optimistic— I’m making progress! Funny, I thought the whole thing of taking honest photos of myself (much less publishing them) would be really hard; it was, at least at first, but I really did start feeling more positive even at that point, very possibly just because I had actually started, instead of continuing to avoid it.
I want to keep this momentum going, so next up, I’ll show you the list of all the things I like in clothes: colors, prints, fabrics, lengths, etc., then delve into the possibilities of applying these characteristics to the vintage silhouettes I’m thinking about. Should be fun! (Aren’t you glad at least part of this process will be fun?)
*If you’d like the sexy details about how I converted my photos in Photoshop, let me know and I will put them in a comment here.