Weird Moment in the Mirror

This post is another one about my aesthetics. By now, I feel the need to point out that I also do spend much of my time focused on far-less-superficial issues, in case anyone was starting to wonder … 220px-My_Wife_and_My_Mother-In-Law_(Hill).svgThe above picture is a classic “ambiguous image” — depending on how you process it, it’s either the face of a young lady as seen from behind her left ear, or it’s the face of an older lady as seen from the side.  The same image can come across as two separate things to the viewer.  It’s kinda cool and odd at the same time.  I recently experienced something like this, personally.

My own journey towards better aesthetics has been psychologically excruciating. The worst experience of my entire month would be when I’d get a haircut and for 20 minutes I’d have to look at a very unhappy, ever-fatter, aging male face in the mirror. I don’t know if I hated myself but I certainly hated how I looked. Picture-taking was something to be avoided. My health and looks were deteriorating and I was unable to find the motivation to do anything to stop or reverse the process. It seemed pointless.

[I hasten to add there’s nothing wrong with looking male if someone is male, wants to look like a male, etc.  I just personally don’t. ]

Now that I know I’m a girl, I’m actively taking care of my health, looks and style. I wear make-up, nice clothes that I choose and match carefully, well-styled hair, and I take care of my skin, figure and general health. Over the last two years, my looks have gradually improved to where I look less and less male, and I generally look better and better.

However, it’s always a strain, an uphill battle to look less androgynous, something that I can make progress towards if I wear dark glasses to hide my male-shaped brow, or I wear extra nice eye make-up, or whatever. It’s never a magical transformation. It’s always the feeling of actively trying to pull away from having a basically too-male-shaped face.

Granted, things are much, much better than how things were … but I don’t look in the mirror and expect to see a lovely young blonde girl look back at me. That’s because I’m not lovely and not young.

However, even with my aesthetic challenges, I like taking pictures.  I like my physique a lot more than my face and so my pictures tend to focus on my butt or legs or abs.  But, in the process of feeling self-conscious about my face and trying hard to make it look as good as possible in pictures, I have learned a lot about posing and shadows.  Turning my head so I’m facing the camera or mirror at just the right angle (as to horizontal rotation and vertical elevation) hides the too-male brow, forehead, chin and jaw perfectly even though they’re all in plain sight.

The angle is everything, and it’s a very, very narrow range of angles that this effect possible. A day or two ago, I was sitting in my hotel room, and I glanced at the mirror when I happened to find just the right angle. The effect was like looking at the picture, above, and suddenly seeing the “other” way of envisioning it.  For the first time ever, I saw the image of a pretty young girl looking back at me.

I knew it was not accurate because that’s not how I generally look, and I knew it was fragile because if I moved, the angle would be different and the just-so effect would be destroyed. But, if only for a moment, it was a freeing, shocking, weird and satisfying feeling to see that image reflected back at me. Being able to think of myself as a pretty, young girl was wonderful even if only for a few seconds.

It reminded me of some hypnosis CDs I’d bought years ago, intended to inspire an overweight male-looking person to become feminized and to release the pretty, slim, shapely female within. The marketing materials showed both profiles superimposed, and it made for a stark difference.  And yet, that’s what I’ve done … changed from one to the other.

Another piece of marketing material showed an unhappy, not-pretty male looking into the mirror. The reflection that looked back was a lovely young lady. It all seemed so impossible to me.  And yet, for however briefly, I actually experienced it.

Ever since I allowed myself to live as the girl I basically am, I have experienced so many things that beforehand had seemed utterly preposterous and unachievable.

It has been a wonderful journey and not nearly as scary as I’d expected it to be.


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