Illusions Of The Body

Posted: September 29, 2014 in Body Image
Tags: , ,

I saw this photography project awhile back Illusions of the Body (NSFW), which is really cool. It shows side by side two pictures of the same person (nude), one with the person posed in a flattering manner and the other posed in an unflattering manner. But of course the are the same person, same body.

I think of this a lot when I hear criticism about women (always women) posting only flattering photos. Jokes about women posting flattering photos on facebook and then their friends tag them in ones that look unflattering, complaints that women post flattering pictures on dating websites and then don’t look as good in person, et cetera. And I’ve heard folks comment that those unflattering pictures are what people really look like, said sometimes about others, sometimes about themselves. I’ve heard that you might think you look good but you should check those unflattering pictures other people take and realize that is what you really look like, or a person commenting that they thought they looked good but then saw an unflattering photo someone else took and realized how terrible they *really* look.

And there is this mentality that there is something wrong with posting flattering pictures. That is a photo is flattering it’s a lie and we are being deceptive by sharing it.

Why do we assume the negative is real? Like the Illusions of the Body photography shows, both are real. That picture of you that you look awesome in is what you really look like. The picture you look terrible in is also what you really look like. Neither is more real than the other.

Of course it’s important to remember we all have those. We all have times we look good and times we don’t look so good. No person is perfectly posed and put together with a flattering expression at all times. This goes along with another message I’ve heard a lot recently which is not to compare your bad or average with someone else’s best. We do this with image. We compare ourselves in the picture of us looking our worst with a photo of someone else looking their best- and if that is a mainstream media image, then it’s also with a photo of someone looking there best through posing, make-up, and photo editing.

Personally, I’m not going to feel bad if I still post flattering pictures on a dating website, facebook, instagram, or whatever else. It’s not lying, it’s not deceptive, that is me and is what I look like. Just because you could catch me at another time, with another expression, from another angle that is far less flattering doesn’t mean the unflattering image is more “real”. We need to stop thinking that the worst always defines us.

I think this way about my own body a lot as well- I have two larger mirrors in my bedroom, one opposite my bed. I wake up in the morning, sit up, glance over at myself half asleep, hair a mess, slouched over and I think “oh my god, do I really look like that? I look so terrible!” Later I’ll catch my reflection walking past the mirror getting dressed and be like “woah, I look good right now!” That’s just how bodies work. There is no need to beat oneself up for not always looking your most flattering because no one ever does.

  1. FatnForty says:

    I’m also learning by accepting/expecting that I look good in pics, actually makes me look good in pics. I used to never post my own pics in fb, but now I do all the time. It makes me feel good about myself.

    • ebay313 says:

      Yes there is definitely an aspect of 1. confidence (notice to that flattering poses tend to be more bills and confident looking compared to slumped over trying to hide oneself) and 2. Learning to focus on the positive. I’m actually bad at the second with photos. I like what I see in the mirror but as soon as it’s captured in a photo and I start looking too long, all I see is tiny little flaws everywhere. I am, of course, a work in progress. I’m working in that.

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