A couple of years back, a friend of mine went to see a plastic surgeon. She had come upon some inheritance and decided to see how the money could buy her something she’d always wanted, something she’d dreamed of and longed for—something that would truly change her life. Now, I can’t condemn her for wanting it. I’m not immune to lusting after it myself.
Now, you might be thinking she went in search of a set of perky size Ds, or perhaps a cuter nose, lips like Angelina Jolie, and if you have a really naughty mind you might think she went in to get her very own . . . well, a sex operation. But nope, my friend is happy being female. But she was unhappy with her female self. What she really wanted was a better self image.
The good doctor gave her a blue magic marker and a few instructions. She was to strip butt naked, stand in front of the full-length mirror and mark everything on her body that she would like to change. Now, my friend is like most women I know in their early forties, meaning she hadn’t looked at herself naked in a full-length mirror since before
But being the good patient, she did as he requested. Then, peering only through tightened eyelids, she grabbed the marker and uncapped it. She started down low, a scar on her calf where a dog bit her when she was a kid, her knees which according to her, had began to sag much like breasts do. (I’m afraid to check mine.) The thighs required much more ink. ( I would have run out ink by then.) And then the dreadful tummy. Of course, she admitted she’d never lost the pregnancy bulge. But the mid-drift. . . since when had that started to jiggle? Breasts…she didn’t even want to talk about them and neither do I.
She says that’s when she got a good glimpse of herself in the mirror and started bawling. Not just because she saw herself naked for first time in almost ten years. Not because she was looking a little like Papa Smurf. She sobbed because she knew her inheritance wasn’t large enough to fix everything. (Damn Aunt Bee for not being richer!)
Anyway, she got dressed and came running to my house with a bottle of wine. A large bottle. Some time between glasses three and four, we both had an epiphany. (I don’t get them often so this was a grand occasion.) I’m not even sure how we came to this bit of wisdom, but I think it was because each of us was shocked at everything we wanted to change about ourselves. I found a blue marker and we both put big dots on our foreheads. In our slightly inebriated states, this was supposed to mean that the first part of our bodies we needed to fix was our minds. Because our biggest problem with self-image was how WE saw ourselves.
When my husband came home that night, I had to explain the headache and the big blue dot on my forehead. Even still, I didn’t regret our mid-afternoon Merlot party, although I did regret that the dot on my forehead had been made with a permanent marker.
But even that was okay. It gave us both a few days of fading ink to think about the whole self-image problem. And something we realized is that this problem hadn’t started with the sagging forties, it had been present even in our earlier years. I remember wishing I had bouncier ponytails in kindergarten.
The end result of that day? My friend used most of her money to go on a cruise. She did get one nip and tuck, but she also joined a gym, and bought some books on loving and accepting herself.
Every now and then, I still get caught up the whole negative image trap. I hate my thin hair, I hate being short, I hate my big boobs. (Yeah, I know most of you don’t get that, but believe me, being short and chesty isn’t a good thing. If anyone needs to borrow a cup or two, I’ve got some to give away.) I hate the lines appearing around my eyes, and the extra 30 pounds. But then I try to remind myself, that most of what I see wrong with my appearance is exaggerated by own warped self-image. So I’m still working on changing the things I can change, and accepting the things I can’t. I’ve also gotten rid of all permanent markers. Oh, and I absolutely refuse to stand naked in front of full-length mirrors. That alone keeps me away from all plastic surgeons.
So, do tell, do you hate something about yourself? How are you dealing with negative image? Or, are my friend and I the only ones struggling with this ugly beast?
--Crime Scene Christie
--Crime Scene Christie