I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Self-Image Vs. Outsider Perspective


This morning as I was waiting for my large, iced, soy white mocha (no whip, thanks) at Peet’s, the barista said to me, “Oh you’re hair looks so cute today!” and I was in utter shock! I leaned over to her, “Me?! Are you serious?” she replied, “Yes! It’s so cute!” I stepped back and looked around and then said, “I swear to you, all I did was roll out of bed and run a brush through it. Thank you so much! You made me feel so much better!!!” and we both laughed. It was a bit of an odd exchange. It’s not like she sees me everyday or even very often, but it was so nice of her to say that.

Truth is this isn’t the first time someone has shocked me with a compliment when I’m feeling especially icky or low. It’s nice and all, but occasionally it can be jarring, too. This morning, for example, I was barely even awake! At first I really didn’t think she was talking to me, but looking around I realized I was surrounded by short haired dudes and figured that it had to be me, right? Most people don’t compliment a guy’s do by calling it “cute.” But I accepted the compliment in the end, which is still not an easy thing for me to do, but I am determined to get better at it! I consider it an important life skill.

So what is up with this outsider perspective thing? How can someone see me/us as something we cannot? I’ll take a stab at it, but I’d love your input as well, okay? So I think because we see ourselves through this inner lens, which differs based on mood and current events, we can’t truly see ourselves outside of that lens. Does that make sense? Like, I felt all crusty and sleepy, but I did manage to brush my hair (and I had forgotten at the time that I’d put a tiny barrette in there) , but someone else saw my weak attempt as awesome and there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! Ha-ha!

We see ourselves at our best, our worst, our everyday and we hear what others think of us our entire lives. Yet we are usually surprised when we see a good picture of ourselves, right? While I have managed to embrace the “bad” pictures of myself and even celebrate them (if you’re my facebook friend, you know what I’m talking about). Sometimes though, even I am shocked by what the camera captures. “Is that really me?!” When others thing we look amazing, all we see are our flaws. We see those minute details no one would even bother to look for or even see/notice!

And what do we do when our BFF/spouse/friend/sibling/etc is feeling blue? “Oh but you look fantastic!” *HeadDesk* We think it’s okay to lift someone up with the same thing. Hilarious! Except it’s not, really. Why are looks so important? Why do we reinforce these concepts? Has society always behaved this way? Did ancient Romans and Egyptians tell each other their hair was looking extra good that day? I honestly don’t know (but I’ll assume only the wealthy had nice hair anyway, right?). How does it make you feel when you’re feeling pretty low on the old self esteem, when someone compliments you on your looks?

I will say that the best mood/self-esteem/etc lifter for me is a fat event or meet up! Nothing makes me feel more empowered and beautiful and strong and amazing than hanging out with rad fatties! I can’t explain it, but it’s like just being instantly accepted and loved without a word spoken. You just know it! You just feel it! It’s awesome! Some of you may be thinking, “Well, that’s great for you, but I have no rad fatties in my life!” Pssshhht!!! If you can’t hang out with rad fatties in person, why not have a rad fatty dance party online through skype or google+?! You can get a web cam on Amazon for $5 (I got the green apple shaped one, it rocks!) and get your fat pride on! Start a meet up group (if you would like suggestions/guidance, email me!)! Seek out local BBW nights at dance clubs! There are lots of things going on, especially in the summer. Let’s lift each other up! Build our fat community and spread the love the world over! <3

10 Comments to

“Self-Image Vs. Outsider Perspective”

  1. On August 12th, 2011 at 10:28 am ksol Says:

    Oddly, I’ve found that a way to be compassionate toward myself is to write about myself as a fictional character. Helped immensely.

    I’ve had that compliment at odd times thing that was jarring as well. I often bicycle at lunch. So I come in, sweaty, wearing bike shorts and an old bike jersey of my husbands, face flushed, and a woman at work looks at me and says “You look so cute!” Changed my whole perspective for the better.

  2. On August 12th, 2011 at 12:36 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @ksol: That is the first time I’ve heard of someone writing about themselves as a fictional character. Fascinating! I may just have to try that! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

  3. On August 12th, 2011 at 11:50 am Chutti Says:

    ya know, I am really for crap at gracefully accepting compliments. I’ve never been able to unpack whether that has to do with being a fatty or just fiercely independent.
    Not that I don’t enjoy getting them!
    But yes, especially ones based on appearance. I don’t want to be judged or accepted just based on that. But then as a fatty, it’s nice to be included. So many conflicting ideas at work on this one!
    I like your solution -to celebrate and hang out with rad fatties.

  4. On August 12th, 2011 at 12:38 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Chutti: What you said, independence and fatness? Nail on the head for me as well! I want to be complimented on my abilities, skills, actions, etc, not for my hair! (And why is it always my damned hair?!) But thank you, hanging with rad fatties always does the trick and re-energizes my passion for fat liberation!

  5. On August 12th, 2011 at 12:01 pm Emerald Says:

    It’s interesting how you mention compliments on someone’s looks being the ‘default’, because that’s a bit of a sore point for me.

    See, I was raised not to see those compliments as true. My mother assumed that because she disliked the way I looked, everyone else must think likewise. And if someone said I looked nice when I was with her, she would take me aside afterwards and explain carefully and pityingly that they ‘didn’t really mean it’ and ‘only said it to be nice’.

    Consequently it’s taken a very, very long time for me to believe that when people say nice things about my looks (which they do, surprisingly often), they do mean it. I think I’m over it with regard to most people, but family is still an issue because, knowing the kind of treatment I used to get, some of my relatives have gone the other way, and go out of their way to tell me, within seconds of meeting, how nice I look…and they rarely compliment me on anything else. I would desperately love for them to sometimes compliment me on the things that matter to me – like smarts or creativity, both qualities I know I have and that other people regularly compliment me on (but which were largely ignored when I was a kid – in fact, I was given the impression they were actually problems). But I don’t know how you go about raising this kind of thing.

  6. On August 12th, 2011 at 12:42 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Emerald: Wow! That is so messed up, I just don’t have the words. I know I still struggle with compliments, but years ago I asked my BFF (actor, singer, dancer, choreographer, etc) how he dealt with the deluge of compliments after every single show. He said that he didn’t deal at all and simply says, “Thank you.” and let’s it go. He made it seem like that way he doesn’t have to even process it, he just thanks them and moves on. No fishing for more, no deflecting (which is terrible!)…just simply “thank you” and I have adopted this as well. In my old career I would deflect at first and never accept a compliment, no matter what it was for. I began to thank people and let it go and now I think I take it much better, but yeah, still struggling! I am so glad that you know your self worth, you are comfortable enough with yourself to see through the bullshit. Thank you so much for sharing your story here. <3

  7. On August 12th, 2011 at 1:48 pm Twistie Says:

    You know, I used to do a lot of acting at one point in my life, and like your actor friend, really, when someone complimented me at the end of a show, I did honestly just thank them and try to move on. Of course, there are still compliments people gave me that stand out to this day as particularly nice, funny, apt, ironic, or just plain bizarre. For the most part, though, they went in the ears, made me feel nice for a few seconds, and then were gone.

    The real trick was to go back the next night and do the same thing at least as well as I had done it the night before, and preferably better. That’s the humbling part of being a live performer that people rarely discuss: you can’t rest on your laurels because you have to do it all over again and try to do it better. And inevitably there will come at least one performance where you just cannot make it happen no matter how hard you try. Timing goes out of whack, an important line gets smothered or mis-spoken, a prop is missing, and you have to be in that moment enough to find a way to pull your chestnuts out of the fire. If you do it well, you’ll get as many compliments on that performance as you do out of the one where it wasn’t a struggle.

    I also think Ksoi is onto something with writing yourself as a fictional character. I’ve never done that, per se, but in acting you have to find sympathy on some sort of level with your character or you cannot play it convincingly. That means you have to find something you agree with your character about, or can respect. In the same way, a writer has to have some sort of sympathy with the characters in the story/novel or they become flat and cannot ever express themselves properly.

    So I would imagine writing down your own character using that same kind of sympathy and consideration would lead to more self-appreciation. I know that the more acting I did and the more kinds of characters I played, the more empathetic and open-minded I became. It’s also made me a fantastic devil’s advocate on numerous occasions.

  8. On August 12th, 2011 at 1:56 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    @Twistie: I love playing the Devil’s advocate! Even convinced a great friend I was anti-flossing just for the thrill of the debate (which was what is more important: kegals or flossing!). I need to think on this fictional thing a bit more, but I like where this is going. Thanks for weighing in! (No pun!)

  9. On August 12th, 2011 at 10:12 pm E. Ai B. Says:

    Idk. I still deflect, but it’s not b/c I assume I am unworthy. It was something kind of taught to me as a practice of modesty. Is what it is, I guess. Just like I try not to accept gifts, though getting gifts and compliments are always nice in lots of ways-it’s embedded in me as what I’m supposed to do. Which is…sort of odd when I think about it. I can remember that it sort of made me sad when I was younger and my mother would down-play if I got complimented, and sometimes even hand back small tokens like money that weren’t physical objects ppl had bought just for me, but I guess I get it now. It was an attempt to be gracious, humble,…I don’t think I’ll be doing that with my kiddos, at least not in that manner…I think how ppl accept compliments just really depends on the person. Not all of us are even capable of owning it. And you bet beauty was super important in Roman and Egyptian times…check out the cosmetics and wigs the Egyptian women had! I think all of this has been around about as long as people as we know them have. Doesn’t mean that we don’t need to change the standards and open up the world for fat women!

  10. On August 13th, 2011 at 10:38 am Not Blue at All Says:

    @E. Ai B.: Oh, but see, deflecting is like insulting the compliment giver! When I saw it this way I realized I was being rude about it and went with the simple thank yous instead. Now gifts are touchy for me. Growing up poor I always sought out the intent of others and have often refused gifts because of it. I don’t think you have to own the compliment, but thank the giver of it is all.

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