Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Positive Body Image Distortion?

You know how an anorexic person has a negative body image when they look in a mirror no matter their weight? Is it possible that an overweight person has a positive image distortion they've developed as self-preservation for their confidence?

As I mentioned previously I just had a small oceanside elopement this last weekend. A few weeks before the ceremony I bought a size 22 pale pink full-length gown at a bridal store. I tried it on multiple times after bringing it home and each time I had to smile at how beautiful and elegant it looked on me. Frankly, I was rather gorgeous. :)

Then I saw the pictures.

I swear I didn't recognize myself. This girl was FAT. Not PHAT, like MTV says, but good old fashioned FAT. Surely the camera adds 10-40 pounds? But why don't I see that same image when I look in the mirror? I swear, I really don't. It isn't that I see myself as thin, and my house has no special mirrors, but I don't see myself anywhere close to the way I appear in pictures.

As a chunky girl these past 10 years or so, I've avoided cameras like the plague. I wonder if I'd seen more pictures of the REAL me, if I'd not have let my weight creep up to its current state? I wonder if my positive body image distortion has actually enabled me to keep my head in the sand, figuring I didn't look half bad?

Unfortunately when I look at the pictures from one of the happiest days of my life, all I see is a sad girl. Not sad in that actual moment, as you can clearly see in my eyes and face the joy I was feeling. But I feel sad for the denial that has gone on so many years.

Today as I write this I don't feel sad. I feel happy that I'm not one of those people that waits for life to begin until after they lose weight. I look forward to the day soon when I eagerly anticipate being photographed....and there are no surprises.


Calianna said...

I've noticed the exact same thing in pictures of myself. I hadn't had any pictures taken in quite a while, at least not since I started losing weight again. But then at Thanksgiving and Christmas someone just *had* to go and take pictures of me, and even though I'd lost another chunk of weight and didn't think I looked so bad, the pictures definitely told a different story.

So I suspect you're right - we do have a more positive body image of ourselves than what we actually are.

I guess it goes along with the fact that, much as THEY'd like to ignore overeating as a serious eating disorder, that twisted image of ourselves is part of the mental thing that makes us susceptible to overeating.

Just like anorexics seem to think a bite of food will make them fat, we don't figure an extra candy bar or bag of chips will do any real harm.

We're just as sick as they are.

Suzique said...

You are SO right! I see photos of myself and think, Who is that and why doesn't she do something....and it's me, so sad. I'm trying not to eat to make myself feel better about it, though! I'm enjoying your blog!