I will write an overview of the formation of my self-image in terms of physical appearance to bring up points which I can eventually go further into, probably more specifically in terms of experiences with relationships, drugs, and memories with emotional attatchments, etc.
I have defined myself as cute and/or sexy, among many other things. I was gangly and scrawny when little. Looks of course didnt matter at first, but over time from the living examples around you it seeps in. I wondered if I was pretty, I thought I was kinda funny-looking and breasts took a ‘long’ while to appear. In junior high I was made fun of a bit for being so skinny, ‘chicken-legs’. And a somewhat prominent nose, ‘pinocchio’. I allowed these insults to affect me, I experienced embarrassment, felt depleted, ashamed of myself. i wasn’t popular, I had lost all I owned in a hurricane just before junior high so all my clothes were donated like a rainbow sweater (which I actually liked, but did NOT make me feel cool self-image-wise), so I was pretty ‘dorky’. This according to how i judged myself according to ‘society’s/peers apparent standards’.
Then I decided, maybe I can do this ‘cool/popular’ thing and bought some ‘grungy’ type clothes at a thrift store (this was early-mid ’90s) and bam, i attracted attention of some ‘cool’ kids and suddenly I was popular. Well, I had to ‘act’ cool too, not just dress cool, had to ‘act out the script’ not just ‘wear the costume’. I saw it as a challenge, a game, and decided to play along to see what’s so apparently great about popularity. Thus furthering my self-judgment according to how others percieved me apparently. That is what popularity is basically, how well can you put on an act and get approval from others. Doing tricks for reward. It was tiring maintaining an image/projection of myself. I noticed an interesting thing about popularity, at first I thought I needed ‘cool’ friends to be popular, then I realised that while they were fascilitating my popularity status, I was actually supporting their status too. So we were all each supporting each other’s popularity, funny. None of us actually ‘had’ popularity, you can’t, it’s not real, but we all agreed(silently) to see/treat each other as if we are so we will be percieved that way…hmm..just like relationships. At a point tho, once you have established your apparent ‘coolness’, you have a bit of ‘poetic liscense’ and can express a bit more, as long as it is not too far from the ‘unspoken standards/laws’ of what is cool/not cool. And you become one of the ‘standard/law setters’, since those who are less cool,use your example as to what is cool/not cool. You are at the top, setting the standard for others below you to follow, it is bizzarely humorous in a way, because there is nothing different about you than those ‘below’, only that you are putting on more of an act, sold yourself out more to that act, there you are, defining actively what cool is, and everyone below is following it like it is the ten commandments. What does that tell you about the ten commandments, hehe? What does that tell you about anyone who is in this world in a ‘top’ position, setting standards that those below follow, as if there is some value in these standards, not realizing they were just made up by ordinary humans like them, and only mean something because they believe in it. Hahahhaahahaha
So I started attracting boys and having boyfriends and my self-image/self-esteem fairly skyrocketed. (Tho on the ‘flipside’ home-life was plummeting down a nasty ‘disfunctional family’-spiral) So that made me seek even more ‘happiness/self-esteem/self-worth’ from ‘friends’. I remember thinking, if I can’t get the attention/love/affection I (apparently) need, am supposed to have, deserve to have, etc, I will have to find it elsewhere, I will find it in a personal relationship. These thoughts coming from ideas from outside myself, that which I’d seen on tv, observed in society, family, etc. I slightly wondered at there validty, but there was just so much apparent ‘evidence’ I just accepted it as ‘that’s the way it is’.
So now that I am attracting boys at that point, I am starting to form a self-perception of myself as being attractive. No, actually it does not start here at all, it starts within the family life, from family members and tv/media. It starts from day one, ‘what a beautiful baby’, ‘aren’t you cute’, etc. I was like a doll to my mother, dress me up, play with my hair, get excited and energetic about how cute I am, which is actually the mother getting excited about herself because she sees the child as a reflection of herself. So mothers want their children to look good, so it will reflect good on them. When the child does something they percieve as cute, they are rewarded with praise and affection=positive energy, and they get the opposite of course when doing something not cute. Thus I learned to act cute in order to get positive results. jesus, it starts so young.
I wanted to be percieved as sexy, womanly, this is what I learned every girl wants/is supposed to be, from the examples in my life/family/people/tv/music/books/etc. I was exploring/participating in/accepting the idea/belief that being sexy according to others/males would make me feel good about myself, was neccessary even to feel good about myself and have self-worth.
So, some males were finding me attractive and I started to think maybe I am attractive and started to see myself as attractive, tho I also still thought I looked wierd, so I didn’t quite fully understand how they saw me apparently different than how I saw me. At some point I thought, maybe its the same for them, they see there face everyday, like I see mine, and it quite unspecial since youre used to seeing it every day, so maybe they dont think they are attractive either, which it seemed like I could notice in their behaviour that uncertainty just like i felt.
Wow, when I was younger it was so much easier to see similarities like that between myself and others, but over time you block it out more and more. I remember moments while growing up where I felt more and more the need to hide parts of myself from others, as I learned/was learning/oberving how we all developed these shadow-selves. I remember feeling sad about this and missing how it was when I and others were still able to express more freely. And actually there was less to express, or at least, it was less complex and convoluted. The thoughts and feelings that came up more and more as I grew up seemed so…uninnocent by comparison. Not naughty per se, but more like confusing and wrong, corrupt. And that was most parents/adults view of most kids it seemed at that time, by no coincidence, at all. I wondered is all this shit going on inside others heads too? I guess not because nobody is talking about it, eventually I realized, I was one of those people not talking about it. So we’re all just goin around not talking about this shit, nobody wants to speak out because we’re afraid to damage this self-image we are building.
After a year or two of being popular and building self-image of attractiveness, my family moved and I started in a new school where I was not so popular, it was a much smaller religion-oriented school so it was a different dynamic than the more populated public school I had come from. Here I was more infamous than popular, because I came from outside the bubble of this litlle churchy community and I smoked cigarettes and wasn’t a virgin and didn’t play sports or act ‘goody-goody’ with the adults/authority/teachers. So my self-image now was also a ‘badass’, ‘hard’ kinda thing, which it had been already developing in the public school, but now was exemplified in comparison to the majorily ‘preppy’ kids. The first year there I made a few friends but I didn’t have any relationships which was a blow to my self-esteem, compared to the previous couple years where I’d had several relationships, nearly always in a relationship. Family life was also not good, so I was experiencing intense bouts of depression. I felt depleted, because I had gotten used to all the energy I was getting from my first round of relationships. I judged myself for not being in a relationship for what seemed/felt like so long. Whats’s wrong with me? Am I not attractive? Do i have a bad personality? Maybe something is wrong with them, i justified. How are others perceiving me? Do I need to work on my self-image/act? What can I do to make myself seem more appealing? I desparately craved ‘love’ which was actually: attention/affection/sex=all really energy.
In the previous school, where I was popular, I had started to get tired of being restricted to certain styles, certain music tastes, etc, having to like, wear, do specific things, it was too limited. I wated to express myself and experiece life in other ways. So when I moved to the new school, I took this as like a fresh start, I can create a whole new self-image. So I wore odd clothes, totally mismatched as a polarity reaction to conformity, strict dress code, and like saying haha to all you who want to look normal, and care so much about fitting in/how you look. Tho in this reaction, I was actually supporting the idea that clothes/style does matter/make a difference. Also, i didn’t have any money to buy ‘nice’ or ‘cool’ clothes, so I shopped at thrift stores and bought wierd/odd clothes so i could still have my own sense of personal style based on appearance/fashion. A cool thing was, I developed some tailoring skills thru ‘refurbishing’ the thrift store clothes. So i was trying to prove that style/fashion/clothes didn’t matter is what I told myself, in denial that I was making a statement of the exact opposite. I looked down on myself for my odd style too, thinking what’s wrong with me? Am I crazy? Why am I so weird? Depressed at feeling that I am outcasting myself from societal acceptance, tho I did have a group of friends who of course also had ‘abnormal/defiant/rebellious’ dress styles, so I was not alone in being an outcast. But the main bulk who are conformers treat you different for not complying with the standard system.
At times I thought I would go insane from cravings for sex/relationship. I had really built up a dependency and masturbated fairly frequently to try to ‘deal with the cravings’, using all sorts of pictures in my mind of people and creating fantastical imaginary scenarios. But I still craved ‘the real thing’. Like a drug addict who wants ‘the good stuff’. I would experience sadness, jealousy depression, when seeing other ‘couples’ together appearing to be happy. Not putting two and two together yet to realise that it is all for show. If I look at my own relationships, I wanted to appear like the perfect happy couple in front of others, wanted to project this image of – look at us, we are so happy and wonderful together, I am so cool because I have found a wonderful partner and we are so wonderful together in our wonderful blissful love, just look at us. As if, if others percieved us to be happy and wonderful, then it is true. As if the ‘wonderfulness’ of the relationship itself is dependent on others believing it to be so. IT IS ALL FOR SHOW. And we deny this fact to ourselves!