My Thoughts

my thoughts on art, and on life.

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Location: California, United States

I'm an artist, recently moved from B.C. Canada to Sonoma County, California. My art revolves mainly around photography/modeling, sculpting, writing, drawing, and making weird, witchy dolls

Monday, July 17, 2006

What The Camera See's

When I was a kid, my mother and one of my sisters convinced me I was a hunchback, that I had a pot belly, a giant nose, a unibrow, bony knees, deformed toes, hair like straw, oversized hands, buck teeth and a non existant chin. These lies were reinforced throughout the years of my childhood, and I believed them. I stared at myself in the mirror, and recited the litany of flaws I'd been taught were mine, and the mirror responded in kind. I saw a monster looking back at me. Every once in a great while, when I looked in the mirror, I noticed that my defects had disappeared - I actually liked what I saw in my own reflection. But I always made the mistake of telling my good news to my sister, who would tell me I was mistaken. I looked again in the mirror, and sure enough, the defects were back, worse than before. It was a wierd phsychological game that I now understand had no basis in reality. The mirror was unable to overcome the lies that had been planted in my head.

It's interesting that I became an avid photographer of myself. It was the camera that helped me take the first tiny step towards viewing myself in a more honest light. It began with my knees. The summer of my eighth year, I saw a photograph of myself in shorts, and couldn't help but notice that my knees were not bony after all. The camera had succeeded in what the mirror had failed to accomplish. After that, I developed the habit of scrutinizing every photo of myself. I wanted to see if the other defects I'd been taught to see in myself, might also prove to be unfounded. It didn't happen overnight - there were years of conditioning to overcome, but gradually I came to believe that I was not grotesque afterall. The camera did this for me.

Now that I've grown up to become a photographer/model, I still depend on the camera to refute the lies told to me by my mirror. When I go for too long without eating, and my body is beginning to look frighteningly thin, the camera tells me. It always catches me by surprise, because in the mirror I feel I look almost chubby, yet photographs taken on the same day show me as anorexically thin. When I stand on my scale to see which is telling the truth - it is always the camera that proves the honest one.

Conversely, there are times when I think I'm in great shape, and then the camera shows me I need to taylor my excersize routine for a specific area that is in need of toning. Standing in front of my mirror, I wasn't able to see this, but in bending my body into poses for my camera, I discover things I would never, otherwise have known. I can fix these things before they get out of hand. I have a scar below my hip. I've worked for years to smooth it out, and for the most part, it has disappeared. Even in photographs, the scar is nearly invisible. It is only in certain light that it shows itself again. Still, it's in my nature to keep working to rid myself of that scar, and so I do.

I think it's true that my childhood experience with my mother and sister is what drives me to work so obsessively on my appearance today. And I suppose I sometimes carry these things to extreme, but on the other hand, it's my way of feeling beautiful. It's my way of loving myself. It's a matter of self esteem, I believe. As a child, I was vulnerable to the powers of my sister and mother's suggestion, because my self esteem was non existant. Now that I've learned to love myself, I can look at the camera's evidence with a fairly open mind. I'm pleased with my appearance, and want to look my best, and so when the camera shows me something in need of fixing, I can't wait to get going on it. I am no longer the child who cried in front of the mirror, despising her own reflection.


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