In The Lie Of The Beholder: My Battle With A Negative Self Image
By Jai Stone
A few days ago, my friend posted a photo of this Mocha Model on her Facebook page with the following statement:
“I LOVE this photo for a ton of reasons, but what do you think? Tell the truth… Beautiful? Confident? Bold? Work of art? Or Crazy? Tell me!!!”
My gut reaction was to cringe. I was like “oh sh**…here we go!! As I looked at the picture, the first thing I saw were the imperfections. I heard myself making mental notes about “belly fat” and “thighs rubbing together,” but I was sure my thoughts would be mild compared to what others were going to say. As I slowly scrolled down to read over the 90+ the comments, I tensed up prepared to read statements that reflected all the usual ugliness that people have made ME feel over the years. In my mind I thought, “let the fat-bashing begin.”
I put on my emotional armor and prepared for the hurtful, crude, and derogatory commentary that I have so often faced in social media. I was prepared for anything… except what I actually read. The overwhelming majority of the commentators thought the image was a beautiful! They stated the picture was a “work of art” or “very real,” and of course there was the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” sentiment. In fact there was not one comment of the “bashing” variety at all.
The first thought that entered my cluttered little brain was “OMG, look at all these politically correct sons of sap suckers right here…. They know they’re lying!!” I found my irritation growing over what I considered “white lies.” Every day we are bombarded with images of models and celebrities that we deem “beautiful.” Images and messages that reflect that ideal beauty is quite the opposite from our Mocha Model pictured above. Nothing about her body type, complexion, hair color or eye color is what society tells us is beautiful. At least some of those folks had to be lying. But what if these folks weren’t lying, wouldn’t that be a kick in the head??
That’s when it hit me…it didn’t matter if the comments had been lies or acts of kindness, what mattered most was what I had seen with my own eyes. As I made all those critical observations, I totally overlooked her smooth and creamy skin and nicely rounded hips. I missed the fact that her face did not have a hint of shame and her posture had absolutely no reflection of unworthiness. The fact that Miss Mocha had the confidence to allow the world to see her totally unshielded had totally been lost on me. How had I seen so little and missed so much?
It’s simple. My own warped self-image had clouded my vision. The critical observations that I had made about the Mocha Madame were much like the ones that I had assigned to myself many years ago. It took me decades to look in the mirror and not pick myself apart and once I reached that point I thought I had “arrived.” Now I had the chance to experience a different kind of mirror…the human kind. Not only did I see Mocha in the picture, I saw myself as well. And while I love what I see in the mirror today, I have yet to embrace my own reflection in others. So maybe I was the one telling the lie, I just didn’t realize it. Sometimes God creates new ways for us to conquer old challenges….He’s kind of awesome that way.
Lesson 1: Many times the problem we see with others reflects what we need to repair within ourselves.
Lesson 2: Life gives us the same challenge many different ways until we conquer it without fail.
Jai Stone is a Socialpreneur and founder of several successful online properties including Emotional Nudity – a lifestyle brand focused on personal development for women. She is also a highly syndicated blogger that writes about love, life and the pursuit of authentic joy. Follow her on Twitter @JaiStone or visit her blog.