I have a problem with body image. Actually, my problem is deeper. Spending most of my time within my head as a writer-translator-artist, I have a problem with basic embodiment. So such questions as what do my body/face look like or how are my body/face perceived by others are already a cognitive step removed from my daily experience. While I struggle to have a body at all, it is subject to unfavorable judgement nonetheless. It could-should be better, hotter, stronger, -er, -er, -er… In truth, my corporeal memory of physical self got stuck in the 90s on this pic. Key word: very-super-awkward.
The fact that I have experienced any romantic/erotic relations at all appears to me as a miraculous testament to kindness of strangers. But I digress… Body Image & Self Image. Men generally don’t talk about it, much. Men in mid-thirties certainly don’t talk about it, constructively. Queer men in mid-thirties just seize to exist in collective imagination, altogether. How would I find me? It’s not about temps perdu of chasing youth. Forward is where I want to move. Next is what I’m after. My head is way ahead (pah-dam-pam!) but I want to be there in full flesh. Oh I’ve done the motivational collages before: the anonymous fitness models, the famous fit personas, even my head on other people’s broad shoulders and lithe torsos. That’s how the popular expert advice goes, no? See it to believe it. Fake it till you make it. At best these images became a source of envy-lust, at worst they further disembodied me.
Recently a wonderful fashion photographer Alina Pastukhova launched her online portfolio which includes a few photographs she’s taken of me. It was jarring to see them. I have worked with a few photographers in the past couple years but in my head (!) these shots were always contextual necessities: pic for a print bio, promo for a gig, favor to friend, etc. Kudos to your talent, a few Photoshop jokes, let me sabotage this reality. I never really acknowledged myself as a subject. Until now, in light of my aforementioned mid-thirties dismemberment predicament. These are not selfies, so it’s conceptually harder for me to undermine or dismiss their representational value. Someone else saw me this way. Therefore there could be an alternate truth therein. Sure, self-worth is an inner thing, but when your Inner is a goner and/or a gunner, Outer sometimes might do too …
So… As part of my mid-life crisis extravaganza festivities I’m making a collage of (reportedly) alright-looking images of me from the last couple years. Maybe if I stare at them long enough, I’d finally recognize myself. I just want to look and feel like ME, fully and wholly present for the next chapter(s) of MY life. In words of Queen Beyonce: Get ME bodied!
Would you consider making and sharing a similar collage of YOUR “good” pics? What is-was that process like for you? How does-did it make you feel?