I am what I am (a.k.a Self Portrait 2018)

Five years ago I posted the photograph below with the words written upon it describing my journey recovering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), self-hate, and low self-esteem. Today things are very different and this entry describes how things are today. If I am honest I still did not think I could ever reach the point of body and self positivism as the negative hung around like a bad smell I could not get rid of. Looking at old photographs I can see and feel my pain with part of me wishing I had the keys to a time machine to reassure myself but know I probably would not believe myself or recognise the person as me. The ogre that once lived in my head has been truly vanquished, such are the incredible healing properties of self-acceptance and happiness. Actually, I thought I was not allowed to be happy as was meant for others and not for me. Now I realise happiness takes many forms, and I have the right to that as much as anyone else on this planet.

In an age when judgement is made so much on our physical form it makes me still at question if I fit in. Judging on physical form deeply saddens me as know there is so much to us than our shell of many colours. To those that think looks are everything consider the following: when you see an iceberg you only ever see the top of it not what it actually looks like in physical form (this is like judging someone from the clothes you see them in and only desiring the slimmest of figures); equally consider a swan that as a child looks very ordinary but becomes a beautiful and majestic bird (this is akin to judging someone based on their past alone, not who they are in the present and what they may have overcome); and finally consider if the music remained only oral and never visual with those you judge their music based on their sex appeal you could never see (this is like basing your attraction on a walking puppet controlled by someone unseen where nothing is actually real).

I know I am not an ogre but I am equally not a Hollywood A-list celebrity, but then again I would rather be the ogre than the Hollywood star! Accepting me as me has been far harder than academic study; although on saying that my PhD was one of the greatest stresses of my life to date. I am me, not the love child of Frankenstein’s monster and the Hunchback of Notre Dame as I used to think. Which was replaced with Pablo Picasso’s ‘Woman in Hat and Fur Collar’ for a bit as I attempted to readjust the mental image in my head. This was followed by a patchwork doll made up of patches that represented all the different things that make me, me, and stitched together with love from those that are special in my life. However, now I see the same image others see in my photographs and smile like I never thought I could, it used to physically hurt my face for starters. If I was to have any other visual of me it is of a Matryoshka doll, because there is more to learn about me even when you think you know me well I will always surprise you with another layer to what makes me the uniquely beautiful human being I am.

© Fi S. J. Brown

5 years ago.jpg

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The Beautiful Ones

These days it is easy to be hard on ourselves if we do not meet the airbrushed, “perfect” image, we see in newspapers and/or magazines to websites and social media. People that we are told are “beautiful” yet feel the boy in the emperor’s new clothes when realise they are not.

Remember, this is not the world’s view on what is beautiful and/or perfect. In fact perfection is a lie we have been convinced exists, look at flowers in a field or garden, they are all shapes, sizes and colours as we are. Make up or surgery do not enhance beauty, but hide or trap what makes us unique.

Ugly is not a trait of physical beauty but in personality; with greed, envy and jealousy that eats away at them over time. Sometimes it can be seen in the eyes as darkness as it has eaten away at the soul till there is little or none left. Making them blind, unable to appreciate or respect another’s way of being.

It is easy to compare ourselves to others, convincing ourselves they are far more beautiful and/or their lives are easier or better than our own. Stop it now. Few of us know another so well that could make that comparison and in fact only we know the true ourselves. Find, accept and respect them always.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Physical Form

It is said if we met ourselves in the street we would not recognise them as our twin. Every morning, afternoon, or evening in general we see our reflection in a mirror at least once, does a it really reflect who we are? To me it is like a silent mime act mincing our actions for a few moments in time. The visual it shows is a representation of us but not who we are as a human being lives in a world of words and sound.

A photograph does similar, it takes a representation of us at that moment, but no matter how many selfies we may take or edits we make on Photoshop, they can only speak for us so much. We form a representation of our physical form based on these, this can be both positive and negative, but what we need to remember this is only a brief representation in time of who we and how we look to the outside world.

When a stranger on the street or in a bar stops to tell us we’re beautiful or handsome it again is only a representation of ourselves they find beautiful as they do not know the mind and soul of the person within or our history. Accept it with a thanks. If we had never seen a banana or pear before, what would we think of their shape and colour, would we judge them like we do other people or how we see ourselves?

Beauty shines from within not just from the physical form, we’re like flowers in a meadow or a piece of art. Decorating with “make up” or other “beauty products” is like decorating a with glitter tortoise shell, pointless. Make up creates a mask to the world, perhaps we have been brainwashed for so long to believe it gives us confidence and/or makes us more attractive, when they are colourful chemicals to paint us.

A surgeon’s knife or injection may be used to change our physical form, but why do we spend money on vanity and ego, is it from believing our own voice or that of an industry built to give us poor self confidence? Accepting who we are is hard, it is sometimes call self love, I call it acceptance; it cannot be bought, sold or made, as we are the only ones who walk the full journey of our lives and nobody can change that.

Also our behaviour demonstrates who we are; for example do we help others because we want to, it looks good or our mate does it so we will do too? If someone suddenly became interested in helping others, like volunteering at their local hospital with sick children, at the same time they were starting internet dating to find a partner, are they connected and does the first really show their personality or a tool?

Knowing someone at a friendship level tells us far more about a person, their likes and dislikes, passions and hates, so the representation they have of us is the real us. They accept us for who we are as see beyond the tortoise shell and/or mask we wear, it is through their love and friendship we see ourselves better than any mirror or selfie can ever show. So if a friend says we look beautiful, we wear it with a smile.

Our physical form comes in all shapes and sizes, a variety of colours too, no one size, height or colour is better than the others, we are all human sized, one size does not fit all. Next time we see ourselves in the mirror, or a photograph of another, do not judge them or ourselves on that image as only a representation of physical form for a few seconds of their or our lifetimes nor the story behind the image we see.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Twenty words for life

I was asked recently, if you could only speak twenty words for the rest of your life, what words would head your list and why? I thought it was a great thing to ponder, probably nearly impossible to come up with only twenty with reasons. So with thanks to a pot of trusty Earl Grey, I came up with my list, and here it is:

1. and 2. Please and Thanks – They may be thought of as basic manners but they express gratitude without measure or cost;

3. Appreciate – To acknowledge how special someone or something is in our lives, that we would miss if we did not have them/it;

4. Accept – To allow ourselves and those in our lives to be who they are without judgement is a truly wonderful thing;

5. Friend – That special presence in our lives that over time creates a jigsaw piece of them in our hearts and minds;

6. Instinct – We should trust our inner voice, not let everyone we meet close as do not always have the best intentions;

7. Time – We should not put off something till tomorrow, wish we could relive a specific memory or that an event will come;

8. Smile – Something we can all do easily, can change someone else’s day, yet we often forget it also can make our own;

9. Beautiful – Too many are quick to find fault in others, and it is far harder to give a genuine compliment such as this says

10. Love – It does not have to mean what we read in fairy tales, but a special bond with others or the union of body and mind;

11. Nature – There is something about being out with the world we create to being around what is there living it’s life with us;

12.Thinking – So much of life these days is rushed, but it is good to take time to think things over before an action is taken;

13. Tears – Not all that falls from our eyes is a bad thing, as can be a sign of relief after much pain or happiness at good news;

14. Music – The sounds that are so special that they almost decorate our memories in an aural way with or without words;

15.  Hugs – That feeling when something with a heartbeat (it does not have to be human) physically touches us is incredible;

16. Colour – Planet Earth is a paint pallet of different animals, vegetables and minerals that become artworks in our minds;

17. Look – Our sight is a wonderful gift and eyes take in so much, but sometimes we do not notice or appreciate what is around us;

18. and 19. Read and Write – Two things we can learn, opening up new worlds, but we often fail to see their greatness or power;

20. Journey – Life is full of twists and turns, adventures to be had, and think of it like a river not a straight line from A-B.

© Fi S. J. Brown