“It took me too long to realize that I don’t take good pictures, cuz I’ve got the kind of beauty that moves…” – ani difranco
I’ve always loved this quote; I force myself to think of it every time I see a picture of me that makes me want to stab my eyes.
I’m thinking of it right now because I saw a picture of me that makes me want to stab my eyes.
I went to my friend Anne’s wedding this past weekend. It was in Seattle during a small stretch of perfect weather. The ceremony was gorgeous. The reception was gorgeous. Anne was gorgeous. Her women of honor were gorgeous. I felt pretty decent myself…until I saw a picture from the event. My collective-of-negative-voices-in-my-head’s initial reaction was “bad posture. rosacea nose. ill-fitting ensemble. messy hair. double chin. fat. fat. fat.”
I’m 99% certain most other people in the world wouldn’t look at the same picture and see all that, but instead of only telling myself, “Haley, you’re insane and you’re the only one who thinks you look like a homeless person,” it’s helpful for me to reason that the camera is simply not advanced enough to capture what’s really there. Maybe because by doing that, I still get to claim the girl in the picture looks bad. Or maybe I just like to quote one of my favorite songwriters. Or maybe both. Anyway, it helps, so I thought I’d share it with you. Anytime you see a bad picture of yourself, just reason it’s because your extreme and extravagant beauty is moving to quickly for that silly ol’ camera to catch.
Today was my first day back in LA. I did okay. Food-wise I did okay. Body image-wise, not so much. I had on one of my hippie-esque outfits, and while on the way to rehearsal, I decided I didn’t want people to meet me and think “ugh, that girl needs to update her wardrobe to this century,” so on the drive from Fred’s house to the theatre, I stopped in at Marshall’s and bought a shirt that I felt would make my first entrance in front of all these new people be more neutral. Because god forbid they see my personality right off the bat (assuming they even give a flying fart). What a weirdo I am.
Random impulse shopping has seemed to take the place of my former addictions (though I am too poor for it to ever get too problematic). I did, however, pack an obscenely excessive amount of clothing for this one-month trip, and in my apartment back home, you can’t even tell any clothes are gone. Obviously, the need to have a million items of clothing stems from my need to feel like I have greater odds of finding something to wear that will make me feel comfortable. But the thing is, until I feel comfortable in my own skin, it doesn’t matter how many outfits I have available to choose from- because since I don’t like my body, I really don’t like any of my clothes. Even my stupid, brand-spanking-new neutral shirt.
At the rehearsal, two of the male actors had to lift my friend Barry for one of the more movement-orientated scenes. The director asked him, in front of everyone and very casually, “How much do you weigh?” Barry then responded, in front of everyone with his guesstimated weight. It made me think: how many people take for granted that males are comfortable with that sort of thing? Not that there was any of that in this case…but in general, I think people have different assumptions when it comes to mens bodies versus women’s bodies. Women do make up the vast majority of people with eating disorders, but there are millions of men in America who suffer from the same thing. Of course, people have all kinds of assumptions all the way around when it comes to body and appearance. But I bet that men who deal with body image issues and/or eating disorders may even have a stronger stigma/oblivion from outsiders attached. Any of you men out there want to weigh in? (Your thoughts, I mean. Not literally “weigh in”.)
I will say that even Barry, who I would never, ever in a million years think of anything other than slight and fit and perfectly healthy still said something like, “I could probably stand to lose a few pounds,” at the end of the inter-change. Human interaction is so interesting.
I would like one of my upcoming posts to deal with the assumptions people make about weight, body image, appearance and whatnot. Any of you that have written me personally who would be okay with being included in the post, please let me know. I want to post your picture (with a little story about each of you) so people can see how there is absolutely no way to gage what a person is going through on the inside by just looking at their outsides. Basically, you cannot judge a book by it’s cover.
In college, I had two professors herd me into a corner to tell me, very delicately, that I needed to lose weight if I wanted to work in professional companies. Obviously it was well-intended and undoubtedly true advice (especially in Los Angeles)….but the point I want to make in my next post was that it was the wrong thing for them to do.
If you ever think you need to tell someone they need to lose weight, or even gain weight, let me make something very clear for you: you don’t. They already know.
But what you don’t know, is what they’re going through, or why they eat, or what health problems they have, or what genetic issues they face, and so on and so forth.
After that conversation with my professors, I immediately packed on about ten to fifteen more pounds. Why? Because the whole reason I’ve carried extra weight almost my entire life is that I deal with such ego-blows by binge eating! If I had the tools to love myself and take care of myself, I certainly would have done it many times over. And at that time (senior year of college), I wanted to be a professional stage actor more than anything in the world. You don’t think I would have lost the weight if it was as simple as incorporating more diet and exercise into my life?
So, yeah. Unless you’re a doctor or dealing with someone with a serious health-related concern, my advice to you is: mind your own business. Your “help” might end up making someone feel (or look) worse.
Back to what I was saying before: if any of you want to be involved- or would be okay with being involved-for that future post, please let me know.
Also, if any of you are up for doing a guest post on any related topic, I would love that as well.
The good news, is I am starting to value myself and take care of my body now, in my thirties. I had another (more polite) professor tell me I should go do something else for ten years or so, and come back to acting when I ‘grew up’, because I was better suited, even then, for the older roles. That hurt, too, at the time…but after a few years of flailing about LA aimlessly, it’s essentially what I did. I will say my goals and desires have changed drastically since he and I had that conversation…but I certainly won’t hate it if he was right.
‘gnite everyone. And if you’re in LA, let’s hang out, okay?