How Do I Look?

One of my husband’s former students recently wrote an essay about him for a different writing class. I think the assignment was something to do with learning about a subculture. My husband was this person’s first introduction to role playing games (RPGs) and conventions.

She wrote about meeting him and how he wasn’t what she was expecting from a college writing teacher. She expected “tall, old, and geeky.” What she found was this: “He looked more like a gym teacher,” “…very athletic,” “…piercing green eyes,” “the kind that look right through you,” “(his voice was) calm and soothing.”

Considering that I’ve known him for over 20 years and this isn’t remotely how I see him, or how he sees himself, we got a laugh out of her description. It got me to thinking though. I wonder how others see me.

Here is a brief description. I’m almost 40. I am 5′ 4″ tall. I am quite overweight. I have slightly shorter than shoulder length hair, light brown with a few blonde highlights. I have light blue eyes, tiny ears and wear rectangular brown glasses. I don’t wear earrings, but I have my (wideish, short) nose pierced. I have athletic looking calves, large thighs and a big butt (I cannot lie). When I’m not working, I tend to wear jeans or sweats and t-shirts (usually with nerdy/witty sayings on them).

I have friends who tell me I’m cute (maybe). My friend K tells me I’m pretty (unlikely). My friend t told me I was hot (not). Many of my nerdy guy friends tell me I’m sexy (which I don’t believe has much to do with my physical appearance).

I just don’t see it

My husband regularly suggests clothes for me that I feel would inappropriate for my body/age/style. I’ve always thought I was realistic about my body. I don’t understand when women dress in clothes that don’t fit or are entirely inappropriate for their bodies. It occurs to me that maybe I’m too harsh a judge of myself.

Well, it more than occurs to me. I know I am too critical of myself. I’m not sure why I focus so much on the negative. I don’t see beautiful eyes or sexy legs. I see uneven complexion and fat thighs. I could point out countless flaws, but would struggle to find 3 things that I like about my body/appearance.

Is this a gender issue? Do men judge their appearances as harshly as women? I hate to generalize, so please insert most in front of men and women. I don’t presume to know, but I suspect that women just tend to be more vocal about their criticisms.

How do we begin to accept our imperfections? I can tell you from personal experience that constantly trying to hide or change these flaws is exhausting. I’d much rather eat what I want (within reason) without worrying about counting calories or measuring portion sizes. I’d prefer to workout because I enjoy the physical activity, rather than trying to figure our how many calories I’ve burned (and subtract the number of calories I’ve eaten). I want to choose a haircut because it’s cute and not because it is a haircut a 40 year old should have or the fact that it covers my ears. Most of all, I want to be a good role model for my daughter so she can buy a skirt that she thinks is cute (it was) instead of choosing capris because they cover her chubby knees.

Suggestions? I need all the help I can get.

~ by midlifecrisisfun on September 23, 2011.

3 Responses to “How Do I Look?”

  1. I think it is common for us to not see ourselves as others see us; we can be harsh! Unfortunately, if we aren’t able to accept ourselves, it will translate into keeping others at arm’s length especially when they see something good that we view as bad. I have always been taught that women are more prone to struggling with self image.

    One thing I have learned from others that yes, they are aware of my imperfections and my uniqueness, but what draws them is my attitude about myself and others. You see, I was born with cerebral palsy. My walk/gait is a scissor-gait. It looks very laborious and downright unstable. My legs are lacking in strength and muscle development. It is very painful for some to watch. More often than not, those who struggle with it also struggle with their own self image. They pity me because I am less than perfect and will never be perfect.

    In my mind, they are more of a cripple than I am! If others see beauty or cuteness or sexiness in you, accept it!! Enjoy it! Celebrate it! If your husband likes to see you in certain clothes, make practical adjustments where necessary but give him something to look at. Obviously he enjoys you. Be open to seeking out an alternative way to dress that will still be satisfying to him and respectful to you. Take an unbiased person shopping with you. Give yourself freedom to celebrate who you are. What have you got to lose?

  2. Well, I must say that you have a lot of good things going for you. One of the most important, is that your husband wants you to dress inappropriately for your body, that means he finds you sexy. So, thank him next time he says that.

    As for men worrying about their appearance, yes, but not to the degree women do. I go to the gym to stay in shape, so I can be the best version of myself. If you are happy with what you see, then don’t change a thing.

    I’m going to be bold and say that your eating habits are severely flawed. If you want to lose weight you don’t have a choice, you have to count calories and how much you exercise. If you consume more calories than you exercise and burn during the day, you are gaining weight, not maintaining or losing.

    These things will set a good example for your daughter, what good eating and exercising are, and how much she loves herself, if you don’t stop the chain and set a good example, she will deal with these exact same issues.

    -Good luck

  3. “maybe I’m too harsh a judge of myself.”

    “Maybe”, hmmm?

    Listen, i’m going to tell you this, so that the next time i’m being too down on myself (yes, men feel that way too, with the notable exception of my butt being all but nonexistent), you can repeat it back to me:
    we learn to accept our imperfections only when we realize that there is no such thing as perfection. Never was, never will be. And with acceptance and time can come appreciation – if you’re willing to work at it.

    i think your worth it, and with your next post i would very much like to hear 3 (or more) positive things about your body and appearance – and no, the “big butt” mention can’t be used again 🙂

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