The question about appearance often goes a bit like this: Is that how I really look!?
An alarming inquiry, right up there with: “My electricity bill cost HOW MUCH this quarter!?”
Talk about charged.
The challenge is often confronted in the bathroom mirror, or turning the pages of a photo album.
Or, as happened the other day, walking down the aisle at a supermarket gazing at images of myself on CCTV.
It’s getting so brazen these days. CCTV I mean.
Big Brother doesn’t even try to hide it behind reverse mirrors.
The TV screen right there over the shampoo aisle, giving a live feed on not only potential shop lifters but also the idea that what you see is not necessarily what you’d hope to get.
Self image is all about perspective, though, and if you can distort that long enough, you can soldier on to the shampoo you have been asked to buy.
To be fair, the camera wasn’t being very kind, and probably never has been. Nor does it lie.
Truth is most of us are never going to look much better than the footage we take today, no matter how much we reel back in horror.
That’s due to familiar functions like ageing, lifestyle, genetics and general uneasiness about fitting into skin.
Looking back now, with the perspective of red wine, I realise that when you catch a glimpse of yourself like this you should just thank the supermarket for pointing out how good you’re going to look to yourself, in 10 years time.
Not all of us are oil paintings, so it helps to deal in broad brush strokes.
Obviously there was a lot going as I not so much made love to the camera as bore witness to the less-than-overwhelming state I was in now, and no doubt have been since CCTV was invented.
It did my head in so much I dragged a loved one down the same aisle under the pretext they might know where the shampoo was.
It wasn’t really a pretext because I had no idea where the shampoo was.
But I did know where this CCTV screen was, and pointed it out with alacrity as we veered into view.
A rear view actually, the security camera focused right up the dut.
Reassuringly my loved one’s reaction was similarly agharst at what the camera did to their arst.
Or word to that effect as they complained about being portrayed in a way entirely divergent from their self-perception.
At this stage, truth wasn’t the issue as I floated in a CCTV of body dysmophia.
To question the bona fides of my loved one’s reassuringly self-conscious reaction would not have been in my self interest either.
Because, obviously, something was wrong with the camera. Not us.
So we let it go and tramped off in search of olives.