By Amanda J.
In my last post – ‘The Magic of a Makeover’ – I talked about the profound impact that a visit to Boys Will Be Girls in London had on me. In that post, I included a photo of me that is unrecognisable to how I normally look and I say that as someone who has spent hours pouring over it in absolute wonder as to how a 61 year old guy with long standing hangups about his looks and who hates having his photo taken & looking in mirrors could possibly be transformed into a woman he’d date in a heartbeat!
I also mentioned in that post that I love every single one of the 150+ photos taken at that session; there is not one that I have felt in any way tempted to delete (unlike most of the photos I have ever taken of my own transformative efforts at home) but not all of those photos are as unrecognisably me as the one I posted. To illustrate my point, here are two photos taken on the day and the differences between them are there for all to see – of course, the outfits and hairdos are different but the real difference for me is that, on the yellow dress photo, I can clearly see ‘him’ looking back. Furthermore, anyone who knows me in the real world would recognise me with little difficulty if I was to show them the photo. Those two photos were taken within 90 minutes of each other and yet, to me, they’re as different as chalk and cheese.
The fact that I can see ‘him’ looking back is purely down to camera angle, lighting and pose. Or perhaps I should say that they are the reasons I can’t see ‘him’ looking back on the red dress photo because the truth is that red dress girl is pure fantasy, yellow dress girl is far closer to reality. And we cannot go through life relying on flattering circumstances to shape how others see us – ‘sorry, can’t go out unless it’s cloudy because bright sunlight doesn’t flatter me’!
So am I horrified to see ‘him’ looking back at me on the yellow dress photo? Do I recoil in shock that my identity is laid bare for all to see? Has the whole purpose of the session, for which I paid nearly £300, been blown out of the water because, instead of seeing the woman I aspire to be, I’ve just seen the proverbial ‘man in a dress’? Not a bit of it! Let me explain.
I’ve just worked out that I’ve inhabited planet earth for just over 22,300 days. If, on average, I look in a mirror or see a photo of myself once a day, that’s an awful lot of times to be reminded about the hangups I have about my looks. I’ve never been told I’m good looking (except by my mother who doesn’t count!) and rejections to requests for dates in my youth were commonplace so I think I have every justification to feel the way I do about my looks. And yet the face that looks back at me from the yellow dress photo is exactly the same face and logic suggests that it should evoke exactly the same reactions from me. But it doesn’t.
I’ve already touched on fantasy v reality and that underpins all of this. Red dress girl, helped as she has been by sympathetic lighting, is who I wish I’d been. But the brutal truth is that from the moment that Mr Y beat Ms X to the egg, she could only ever be an ‘if only’ fantasy, never reality. But that simple truth is where yellow dress girl comes into play because the fact that I can see myself in her so vividly gives an unbreakable link between her world and mine. It will be she, not red dress girl, who may one day step out into the big wide world, she who perhaps one day goes into a shop to go through the dresses on the rails before asking to take one to the fitting rooms to try on and she who may even one day sit in a smart restaurant soaking up the delicious feeling of being called ‘ma’am’ by the maître d’ & waiters before popping off to the ladies’ room to check her lipstick (wine glasses do play havoc with one’s lippy, I’m told!).
And that is why I love yellow dress girl. She’s irrefutably me and if I can look at her and not stop smiling, it just goes to show that the only thing we should ever fear is fear itself!