a left-eyed girl

living in a 2 dimensional world

Residual Self Image.

with 8 comments

Anyone who has gone through some kind of physical change can certainly agree: the residual mental self image you tote around in your head takes a while to change to match your physical appearance. Memory and mental image are strong forces that are difficult to change. The body is quite malleable and can adapt to new circumstances (like starting an exercise routine), while the mind is a whole other hurdle altogether.

One of my good friends has told me that I have really nice legs, but I have a hard time convincing myself that he’s right. It’s that pesky residual self image I have that tells me that I do not have nice legs and I should not be showing them off. Lately, it’s been getting a little easier to wear skirts that end above my knees simply because my friend’s compliments have given me the confidence to do it. It’s as if I depend on the fact that someone other than my brain has said that I look nice, so therefore, I must look nice. I could always argue with myself and tell myself that he’s simply confused and is seeing things, but I chose to take him at his word. Why else would he tell me that I have nice legs, unless I actually did?

I still find myself surprised at how I look in photos and even more surprised when people tell me I look good. I know that it’s only a matter of time before my mind catches up with my actual appearance, but I keep wanting to hurry up the process. Ha, I suppose that the nice compliments I get from time to time help a lot and keep my mind aware that it’s not entirely there yet. It’s not like I have low self-esteem or anything; in fact, it’s probably the opposite! Either way, it’s just nice to hear compliments from people on things that I never used to be complimented on.

Written by Reese

October 19, 2008 at 11:28 am

Posted in on being fitter

8 Responses

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  1. i can relate to this, although it goes the other way around for me.

    after giving birth, my weight kept creeping up and i ended up about 10kg than i used to before pregnancy. it probably doesn’t sound much, but none of my clothes fit me and turned out that i look soooo different… strangely, i didn’t see it when i see myself in the mirror. i only notice the difference in pictures.

    it took me a little over a year (and many comments from friends — like “wow, you gained a lot of weight!” or “you look, ehm, thicker”) to finally realize that this weight problem is not going away by itself. so i start to do something about it 🙂


    October 19, 2008 at 8:16 pm

  2. It’s much funner for those of us who have never known the heavier version of Reese and thus just get to spend time with a skinny-Reese who doesn’t realize she’s skinny.


    October 19, 2008 at 9:16 pm

  3. You know that I identify with many of the points that you made in this entry.

    The mind is a curious thing…it’s amazing how it persists in maintaining certain self-images, despite the hard evidence confronting it.

    I still shake my head in disbelief when people compliment my legs, too. Funny, though…they never compliment on my full head of hair.

    Congratulations on your continued progress, and the effort you’re devoting to integrating the many changes in your life.


    October 20, 2008 at 3:13 am

  4. @thalia: It’s really tough to change the mind when it has a set self image. I’m glad you are doing something about your health. What’s most important is that you feel good and have energy to do what you want.

    @wirehead: Aww… This is perhaps my favourite comment right now!

    @jellybelly: I think it just goes to show how much control our mind has over our lives.


    October 20, 2008 at 5:48 pm

  5. First of all, I agree with the rest of your friends – you look fantastic and you should show it off 🙂

    Saying that, I do understand what you mean by not matching your self image to your actual physical appearance. I have the opposite problem – I can’t believe how big I’ve gotten and I am always amazed by the ways I look on pictures (how badly I look…). In my head I am still the skinny one I used to be before…

    I prefer your discrepancy to mine 😉


    October 21, 2008 at 6:32 am

  6. I know how you feel :] But you have to know that you look freaking amazing!! Always have always will :] For the past year I’ve been, if it’s possible, “too skinny” ? And now that I’ve been gaining weight, I think I look horrible but ppl tell me I’m looking so much better >_<; Oy. I know how you feel tho.

    Anyways, I’m gonna try to visit soon so we can grub and take photos together!!! 😀 LOVE YOU!!!


    October 21, 2008 at 7:43 am

  7. @Taly my love: Thank you so much! I think that either discrepancy can be difficult. Ha, it’s good to think well of yourself isn’t it? Haha… When you get back here, maybe we can go do some walks together!

    @tiffster: Aww… I have to say that I am one of those that thinks that perhaps you have recently been a bit too skinny, and am glad to know you are receiving compliments from people again! Weight gain and loss is such a personal subject, sometimes I don’t ever want to mention it to someone else. Just know that you’re still awesome and beautiful, lovergirl!!


    October 21, 2008 at 10:15 am

  8. That would be great, but I’ll need a couple month to get in shape 🙂 I am not thinking too well about myself… It’s just that I cannot grasp the fact that my body has changed to the worse. I think that understanding that can be the first step in keeping up with an healthy routine (I have dropped mine way back, just before flying to Iceland – about 2.5 months ago and all the kilos I had managed to drop before).
    I am not in a very good place right now – self image speaking and it goes deeper than the way I look. I kind of gave up on myself but I’m slowly filling back the void.


    October 21, 2008 at 10:24 am

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