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    "For most people, transformation is slow. It happens without you realizing it."
    Marsha Linehan, posted by Daniel

jenniferever

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Just curious everyone: When you look in the mirror at your naked body what do you see and how do you feel?
 

Diana

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That's an interesting question to ask just anyone. I'm curious to see some responses.
Well, I have a history of anorexia. I don't think I see anything extreme, but sometimes my emotions will be very much affected by what I see. It's weird, because it's not like I hallucinate. When I look in the mirror, I'm usually looking for 3 things. One is my face, in the usual way when I put on makeup in the morning - I have no problems with my face at all, and I can leave the house feeling confident that I look good. Two, especially when I'm naked, is my stomach. ANY sign of my stomach looking the least bit bigger will upset me. If it looks smaller, then I'm more satisfied, but I'm still looking for something to lose. This is usually so rediculous because I'm even talking about times after I've eaten - of course my stomach is physically a little bigger - everyone's the same. The third thing I look for is how my shirt sits on me. Now, I have literally thrown fits over this to the point of tears welling up.
When I see my whole self in the mirror fully clothed in non-revealing clothing, usually I think I look small. I'm more paranoid in the summer though, if I wear more revealing clothing - but only with certain parts of my body.
Well, I think maybe I went into too much detail, but it's something I find interesting. Like, what do people without body image issues see? They must have some opinion of their looks? Or, do some people just not care?
 

David Baxter

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It has always seemed to me that part of the issue is that we never see ourselves the way others do or the way we see others.

When we look at another person, we tend to see the whole person, although we may certainly attend to details about the person that stand out or that we find particularly attractive or odd is ome way.

When we look at ourselves, we almost never see the whole person - we see face, hair, stomach, thighs, feet, whatever. We see ourselves in parts, like cuts of beef instead of the cow. I think that's universal, whether or not one has a body image issue or an eating disorder.
 

Eunoia

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true, instead of seeing the whole picture you end up picking out one part and focus on this instead of the whole. What I find interesting is that as much as I am judgmental about the way I look (and believe me I am) I am sometimes surprised at how judgmental I am about how others look.... I am not a person who only cares about looks in other people and by no means do I think that looks define someone (this is speaking about other people) but then why would I be so critical of them? If I have my own issues w/ myself, why bother focusing on other's "imperfections"? So I can compare myself to them? I don't know. It's exhausting looking through this lens. I'm sure someone sitting in class and trying to focus on the lecture has no idea I am sitting in class, trying to focus on the lecture, but also intensely taking apart every part of their & my body. there's something wrong w/ that. what I also find weird is that when I look into the mirror who I see can feel so distant... like I don't even know who I am and who this person is in the mirror. personally, I think we'd all be better off without mirrors!
 

kaht

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We don't have a full-length mirror in the house. There's just one little one for shaving/make-up etc. I know that I would be highly critical of my naked full-length refelction. I see bits of me without any mirrors and it's in need of work. Changing rooms in clothes stores are bad enough! Has anyone noticed how some stores angle their mirrors so that you look 'better' than you would ordinarily, while others are like those mirrors at a fair that make you look stumpy and distorted?!

what I also find weird is that when I look into the mirror who I see can feel so distant... like I don't even know who I am and who this person is in the mirror.

I can so relate to feeling distanced and disconnected from the person staring back at me in the mirror! When I was a kid I remember staring right into my pupils and getting this really spooked sensation. I wasn't sure whether "me" was the shell I could see in the reflection or the homunculus at the controls in my brain; it was like, am I my mind or my body or both?! I very much reside in my mind and don't even feel sometimes that my body is me. After all, my body is on the outside and the inside is so much safer. My body/face has attracted unwanted male attention from the time I was 10 and directs interactions with people in boringly predictable ways. So, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with my appearance. For me, it's not so much that I wish there were no mirrors, but that I wish others couldn't see me or could see past my shell to the REAL me.
 

Eunoia

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this book that I'm reading was saying that body hatred is not actually about our bodies, but about self- doubt and feelings of inadequacy (so that the body becomes a scapegoat).

For me, it's not so much that I wish there were no mirrors, but that I wish others couldn't see me or could see past my shell to the REAL me
the way we use our bodies is kind of weird. as much as I feel that I hate it and don't like the way it is, then how come that I use it to make good impressions on people or get what I want etc? I would never leave my house not looking "reasonably" good, and even if I think I'm having a low-key day, people still compliment me... which is so much reassurance but then I'm also just thinking, why are people so hooked up on the external? you're totally right; seeing past people's exterior to see the 'real' them is true beauty. not what's on the outside. in fact, it can be quite misleading.

jennifer, since you posted this, what do you see?
 

just mary

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Neat question Jenniferever, what do you see?

What do I see? I generally have to force myself to look at my entire body as I tend to focus on my chunky thighs and hips. Come to think of it, I just took my full length mirror out of storage about six months ago. I stopped looking at a full length mirror years ago, I couldn’t stand it. It made me angry to look at myself, I just didn’t like the image, it never worked for me. Then about six months ago I started thinking about what I look like in clothes, how everything fits together, that maybe I was being a little silly, that I should just deal with the way I looked. And it’s not too bad, I don’t seem to disgust myself as much as I used to. I guess I feel disconnected from my body at times, I can’t picture myself in this skin. The image in the mirror doesn’t seem real. I have no idea what I’m trying to say.

But I also wonder about the flatness of a mirror, when we look at ourselves in the mirror we see a two-dimensional image, I’ve often wondered what I look like in 3-d.
 

jenniferever

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what I see

Every time I look at my naked body, I am amazed at how disgusting it is. My stomach, thighs, upper arms and rear end, all horribly fat (and pale). Then I think about how I am in my prime (25) and there are women who are 30 and over who have had multiple children who have better bodies then me, which of course leads me to think about what my problem is. Why can't I just do something about it? In the past as ashamed as I am to admit it, I have cut (edit by Mod: details of si) because I hated the way it looked so much.
 

Diana

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Eunioa, I know! If we're so dissatisfied with our bodies, when why do people like you and I use our bodies to make good impressions on people. I'm not always so dissatisfied with my body, but just not totally satisfied, or scared to death that it will become worse than it is now. Even on days when I'm feeling really frustrated with how I look, I still make myself up to look better.
The thing is, ordinarily people do this. Even if they don't have a disorder or distorted body image of any kind. You see people of all shapes and sizes who seem comfortable enough with their bodies, and they make an effort to dress nicely and groom themselves.
Jenniferever, I'm sorry that you feel that way about yourself. You know, it doesn't matter what you look like, there will still be someone smaller or bigger than you. It gets me jealous too, when I see a woman in her forties who's had kids and looks great. But, it really shouldn't bother us like it does. There will always be someone smarter than me, a better cook than me, a better teacher than me...and that doesn't seem to bother me so much.
 

Rhapsody

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I see an UGLY monster that her husband no longer desires or wants for youth has failed her and she no longer looks attractive... like that of the Beauties his eyes feed up on and that his mind has learned to have, to enjoy.

Death has become a friend I grow to hate...
 

Diana

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I'm sorry to hear that your husband treats you that way. Just remember, his perception of you is not the ultimate truth. If he's failing to see beyond your physical body then he's extremely shallow. In fact, I can almost guarantee that HE doesn't think you look like a monster - making you feel less self-confident is a way of trying to control you - to make you feel that you don't deserve or couldn't get anyone better than him.
People's bodies change and many couples don't care at all because they love each other. They love the inner person and everything they've experienced together. They also love the outer person, even after the person's body has changed.
You're not a monster, and I hope that you can bring yourself to see that.
 

poohbear

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All I see sometimes is rolls upon rolls of fat. We have a large mirror in the bathroom and i can see from mid thigh up. Not a pleasing sight most times! When I'm feeling particularly fat, I see more rolls. When I'm feeling more confident, I don't see me as a cow, just a little chubby. Although I would classify me a medically obese, I wear it "well" as people say sometimes. :) I would like to lose weight. But bulemia gets the best of me. Unfortunately, since I'm trying to over come it, I tend to over eat, and then NOT purge. So, I weigh the options (no pun intended), vomit, or gain the weight? At this point, I believe that gaining a little weight is healthier than continuous vomiting. I have already destroyed gumline enamel on my teeth and have practically no gag reflex. You know when you're sick with a stomach virus and are hugging the porcelain throne all day? Well, I do too, except I will sit there feeling so queasy, knowing my body needs to throw up, feeling the acid at the base of my throat and salivating, but unable to do it. I have been so nauseous sometimes while sick that I've had to make myself throw up. Acid so strong in my stomach that rinsing my mouth out with water tastes SWEET. So, no gag reflex. That's what I think of when I look in the mirror. "I may be fat, but today, I will not vomit after eating!"--poohbear
 

ThatLady

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Heh. When I look in the mirror, I see a scrawny old broad with a few grey hairs (They're multiplying! I just know it!) and ugly knees. I also see someone who knows herself pretty well and is comfortable with what she knows. That's a lot more important to me than the grey hairs. It's even more important than those ugly knees! It didn't used to be, but it is now. :)
 

Eunoia

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I would agree that being comfortable w/ what you know and see is the key. You could be the epitome of what someone might call pretty, even beautiful, thin, build (muscles), etc... it doesn't matter unless that's what you see.

You know how I know the mirror is lying so to say? That this whole body image thing is only a perception of how we feel about ourselves deep down or the extent to which we know ourselves (as ThatLady said)? B/c on some days it's a good image, even pretty at times, and then at others it's 10x's bigger and actually ugly... it's never 'good enough' but it changes a lot. What about the days when that image doesn't even seem to belong to you? That much change can't possibly reflect truth. Only emotions.
 

ThatLady

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Personally, as I see it, the image in the mirror is just that...an image. It is not who you are. Who you are is inside and cannot be seen in a mirror. :)
 
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I don't really look in the mirror much, but to me the most beautiful people in the world are the people who have treated me with love and kindness. And the older I get the less I really care about how I look anyway. It's hard, but I'm trying to let go of letting what I see in the mirror make or break my day.
 
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...

looking into the mirror is something that some people may find extremly devastating ... as for me the mirror is my worst ennemy and i try to avoid it the most cause when i look into the mirror i not only see myself as someone that is over weight but more like extremly overweight and at that i know i am not cause well lets just say the scale doesn't lie but the mirror plays tricks on my mind and makes me see myself the way the voice inside tells me i look like ... pretty scary call me crazy if you want but i just can't see what other people see when they look at me when they tell me that i am just fine the way i am i feel like hitting them as if they say that to console me because i am big but at the same time i think to myself why would they lie .. i am scared when i lok in the mirror because it is like it makes me chose between believing the people i love or believing what my own head is telling me .. pretty freeky...
yours trully ashley-kate
 

Eunoia

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I think with time Ash, that you will be more able to believe what others are saying but also start believing so yourself... that voice (which by the way others have too) might still be there, but you can choose to trust your own instincts and eyes, instead of listening to a voice that always seems to be negative... no matter what you do, right? It's just never good enough. How could that voice be right then?

in terms of the whole mirror thing, high schools and university/college campuses have had campaigns where they would cover up all mirrors in the bathrooms and wherever else to make a point that beauty doesn't only come from the outside but what's inside is what counts- and also to give students a break from having to 'look good', constantly checking the way they look, which ultimately influences how they feel....etc.
I posted a link about similar campaigns at: http://www.psychlinks.ca/phpbb/viewtopic.php?p=18155#18155
 

Rhapsody

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MY WORLD....... my LIFE.

I................. HATE - the image that looks back at ME in the mirror after I take a shower, I live in total torment and h*ll until I am able to apply the makeup and fix the hair, then the monster I call UGLY calms a little... well, that is until the morning returns (day after day after day).

>>> the body (fat & ugly) is hidden away from the eye, baggy shirts remain a friend, a false safety from rejection - a wall of protection that kills...
 

pip

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Honestly, I flip flop.

I have this obsession with looking at myself in the mirror before I shower. I'm constantly curious about the way my body and my self-image changes day to day.

Some days I think I'm beautiful, and I love what I see. I like the way my hips sit, the curve of my body, and the depth of my eyes.

Other days, I look at myself and I'm absolutely disgusted. I see my too big boobs (they really are huge) and the way they dwarf my torso, i see my shoulders, and my not so awesome skin and my big nose, and I see my stomach as fat and ugly. On those days, I wear makeup or do my hair, or wear my favourite skirt in an attempt to cheer myself up.

When I'm thinking rationally, and not in the throes of emotion, I know I'm a good person, and I like who I am, and the pleasure I receive from helping people. Othertimes, I see myself as a whore, or a piece of garbage that can't do anything right, useless was a word that used to haunt me.

Thankfully, those days are few and far between, and a hug, a conversation, and making myself feel 'pretty' takes care of it.
 

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