I Want To Love You – The Complicated Relationship I Have With My Face

I stopped and started and stopped and started with this blog post. Wondering, should I? Shouldn’t I? I’ve decided to go ahead and post it, because someone else may be going through a similar experience, and nobody should have to struggle with this alone.

There’s no plan laid out of what I’m going to write, though I hope I’ll come out with something coherent.

I can’t tell you exactly when I started to dislike my face. I’d guess it goes back a decade or so. (Before I started giving my face hate, I bullied the rest of my body, which led to a lengthy rendezvous with anorexia nervosa.) And I can’t tell you what it was that triggered me to wake up one morning and scowl ferociously at what greeted me when I looked in the mirror.

As my dislike mutated into hatred, I started to wear my hair in front of my face. I was trying to hide the size of my round cheeks. After several years of this, I began to wear my hair piled on the top of my head. I thought it made my face look leaner.

I became paranoid around anyone with a camera. I’d take my own photos, because I (sort of) knew my good angles. And I despised being in videos. I’d always put a hand over my face. ‘Don’t get me in!’ I’d shout when someone would pick up their phone.

I’m especially sensitive about my face at the moment, because my hair is quite short. (I shaved it off three years ago – biggest fucking mistake of my life. The hairdresser told me not to, because of my prominent jaw. He said it wouldn’t suit me. I ignored his well meaning wisdom. Fool that I am. Longer hair IS better suited to my face shape. He was right.) When I wear a long wig for photos, I can feel somewhat better about myself.

When I leave the house, I always wear a hat or a hood, so I can obscure some of my face. (Fuck, this is depressing.) And although I post self-portraits, I still can’t handle it when it’s someone else taking the shots.

Last week, a good friend wanted to interview me about my work. I turned it down. I was too afraid of my face being on video. I thought about buying or making a weird mask and doing the interview wearing it…but wimped out. (I shouldn’t have wimped out. A mask could have been cool.) I wanted to attend a talk about werewolves, but because you had to be on a Zoom call to attend it, I turned that down too. This paranoia – though ‘body dysmorphia’ has been thrown around a few times in conversations – is fucking with life quite considerably.

I’ve tried everything over the years to try and make my face less full and more defined, including buying one of those stupid Jawzrsize things, using jade face rollers and doing the most obscure facial exercises.

So, what am I going to do about it? It can’t continue like this. I want to learn to love what I have. When I think about what to do about the situation, the same things keeps cropping up: the thought of continuing with self-portraiture and challenging myself to photograph my face from the angles I’ve avoided for so long. And, finally moving away to the northern wilderness, where I’ll be so bowled over by the nature surrounding me, I’ll stop thinking about my face entirely. What it looks like will become irrelevant when there’s wood to chop and the aurora borealis to watch the skies for.

I wasn’t going to talk about it yet, but it’s connected to all of this so I will. I have a project lined up called From Darkness We Rise : Wyrd Women Of Northern Folklore, Myth & Legend. My intention with this project is to, through photography, portray forty wyrd women from northern climes. Each photograph will be accompanied with a poem. And, at the end of the year, everything will be published in a book. I’m hoping that, by journeying with these wyrd women, and making art inspired by them, I’ll empower myself, find peace with my face and perhaps even learn to love it.

*It would be great to write a post in December called ‘How I Learned To Love My Face The Wyrd Way.’

What I Was Listening To While Writing This Post

Snow Storm Ambience

5 thoughts on “I Want To Love You – The Complicated Relationship I Have With My Face”

  1. I’m sure no one attending a “talk about werewolves” would care too much about someone wearing a mask (speaking of werewolf talks – that sounds so fun. The world needs more of those). A masked attendee would probably be welcomed. But doesn’t the whole pandemic thing give you the perfect excuse to wear a mask these days? Some of those masks swallow up the whole face – pair those with big sunglasses and a hat and you’re good to go. Not that hiding your face is necessary but whatever works to get you through the day…

  2. I’m enjoying the snowstorm sound. Sometimes I listen to rainstorms. The differences here are appealing.

    I have a face that I tend to think of as simply a face. Mostly unmarred so far by accident of nature or experience, it looks okay. When I dislike my face, I have no doubt of a link with self-hatred. Fortunately, I’m distractable. Writing helps. So does what’s happening with other people. I’ve no advice from any of this.
    But I’m really looking forward to the book you’ll have with the stories of the Northern and wyrd women. I hope you’ll share more of its own story of its making.

    1. I love listening to rainstorms too! I spent much of 2020 listening to rainstorms. 🙂 Writing does help, I agree. I’m excited about the book too! I will absolutely be sharing the story of its making. 🙂

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