Not Really Seeing

I was an expert at looking in the mirror without really seeing what I looked like. I had developed the uncanny ability to brush my teeth, blow dry my hair, and occasionally put on make up without really looking at myself. I could walk by the dining room mirror fifty times in one day without noticing how I actually looked.

This ability spilled over into the way I dressed as well. Because I tried never to really look at myself, I stopped paying very close attention to what I wore. Case in point – this lovely jumper here.

bad homemade clothes

 Looking back, I realize that I was in denial as to my new, bigger appearance. As the pounds came on, first slowly and then quickly, I tried to ignore what was standing in front of me. And for the most part I succeeded. I really could wear that ugly floral jumper and not see how bad I looked in it. I could stop wearing my contacts and put on my out of date glasses every morning without thinking about the image I was projecting to other people.

But every time I did that, a little part of me wilted. Even though I tried not to look at myself, there were times when I caught glimpses of what I had become. Times I saw myself from the side in a department store mirror, or family pictures that came in the mail, or even the occasional time where I stopped and looked at what I had become.

Those little moments of really seeing myself made me angry. I was mad at myself for failing to take care of myself. I was mad that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t seem to make any progress on losing upwards of 100 pounds, but most of all I was mad that I had let myself go.

I never wanted to be one of those women who always looked tired and unkept, but that’s what had happened. I looked nice when I went to church, or on outings, but on a daily basis I looked pretty sad. In fact, I had one homemade dress that I had spilled bleach on when I was cleaning the bathroom one day. Instead of throwing it away, I continued to wear it day after day after day. John even told me to toss it but I insisted that “No one looked at me anyway.”

Even though I had stopped looking at myself I still “knew” that things needed to change. I saw myself internally as I really was, even though I tried to avoid acknowledging where I was externally. I think it was that internal acknowledgement that made me never lose sight of where I wanted to be, no matter how hard that journey would be.

How are/were you at really seeing yourself, and has that changed over time?  Diane

34 thoughts on “Not Really Seeing

  1. JourneyBeyondSurvival says:

    When I was in denial about my weight, for different reasons over time. This past time the mourning clouded the importance of everything else. Especially myself.

    It took a wake up call. And being whole enough to stay awake. I sewed a skirt, tried it on and it was too small! That was 20 hours of work wasted. I put the skirt in a drawer and I will wear it soon.
    .-= JourneyBeyondSurvival´s last blog ..Competing With Myself =-.

  2. Amy says:

    I know what you mean! I went through such a frumpy period when my kids were small, never paying any attention to how I looked because it was just too depressing. One of these days I might just get my courage up and post some of my “before” pictures – some of mine look like a sister to some of yours!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Gold medalist! =-.

  3. Alissa says:

    I also noticed that I never looked in the mirror at myself. These days I do because I want to see the changes that are happening to my body as I get smaller. You’ve come so far!
    .-= Alissa´s last blog ..WI at Work Day =-.

  4. Mia says:

    Growing up, we never had a full length mirror in the house. (My mom is/was obese and now I wonder if that is on purpose.) I never knew how I actually looked except from pictures. Perhaps that is why we all hate pictures of ourselves, because the mental picture of ourselves is different from reality. We don’t KNOW reality.

    About 10 or so years ago, I got a full length mirror and hung it at the end of the upstairs hall just before my bedroom door. Not only did it make the hall look bigger….It also gave me a dose of reality regularly. I could not deny where I was with my weight/health.

    Today we live in a different house and I have a huge mirror in my bedroom. Plus a full length mirror in my “workout room”. I have to say, this really helps keep me in line. I know exactly what I look like. Can’t deny it.

  5. Staci says:

    My problem is that I need to really start dressing up more. There are a lot of people who do not know how much weight I really lost because I keep wearing the bigger clothes out of comfort. I will get there one day!
    .-= Staci´s last blog ..Lesson Learned =-.

  6. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    I actually know that I don’t look the best I can in the clothes I wear now but at least I recognize it! 🙂 Money is tight so the $$ go to more important things like bills, food & running shoes. Although my denial is that is really does not matter right now. Of course it matters but it is what it is…
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Diet & Dieting – Dr. J Guest Posts! =-.

  7. Joanna Sutter says:

    When I’m feeling fat I can avoid my reflection like no other. But when I’m feeling lean and healthy I seek out mirrors. Right now I need a few more weeks of good hard workouts and clean eating and then I’ll be mirror-worthy again! 😉
    .-= Joanna Sutter´s last blog ..Heart to Heart =-.

  8. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    I think you know I still struggle with the perception of what I look like now. It’s so hard viewing from the inside out. I have to say that I was looking at some before pictures the other day and I was just shocked at how I looked. I hadn’t seen these pics in a few years and they kind of make me cringe. (okay, not kind of, they do). I knew I was big and I knew what the scale said, but perception is everything.
    .-= Lori (Finding Radiance)´s last blog ..To goal or not to goal. =-.

  9. Brenda says:

    this post once again hit home with me. I hated my picture being taken because when the film was devoloped, I always ‘looked fat’. It was like it wasn’t me. And still it took 7 years of slowly gaining more and more and more weight till I finally did something about it. I never saw the fat me while brushing my teeth or walking by a mirror, only in pictures. And when digital came out, I always deleted me from them. Like it would all go away with the delete key.
    .-= Brenda´s last blog ..Spring mind games =-.

  10. Linda says:

    This is a good one! I never looked in mirrors either! And if I passed by one and accidently looked at my reflection, I would turn away quickly! Was I disgusted with my own image? I should have looked so I would do something about it! When I would look at myself in the mirror, I would see a thinner reflection. So much denial going on! I hated having pictures taken too!
    And the clothes I wore! Since I was in denial about my size, I made my clothes, off a smaller-size-than-I-was pattern! (another mode of denial!) and the fabric I chose was usually hideous once it became the appropriate size to emcompass my girth! But I wore it anyway! More denial!
    I think I need to look at myself, inside as well as outside and if I don’t like what I see I need to do something about it!

    Thanks for this post!
    .-= Linda´s last blog ..Spinach-Cheese Frittata =-.

  11. Jaime says:

    When I looked in the mirror at my heaviest I never really saw how heavy I was. I was in denial and would fool myself into thinking things weren’t so bad. I hated to see pictures where I couldn’t deny it any longer. Now at 95lbs less I still don’t see how I really look but in the opposite way.I struggle to really see how this new body looks.
    .-= Jaime´s last blog ..Feeling better =-.

  12. Jen-JensFitnessTips.com says:

    I know exactly what you mean! I never had to lose 100 pounds but I did gain some weight but ignored it. I knew what I looked like without having to really see it for myself. I went downhill because you get depressed and you don’t know what to do. I think you have to take the mask off and dig deep to figure out what caused the weight gain in the first place. That’s why I absolutely love Biggest Loser. They are all big but because of something that has happened to them, low self-worth, low self belief, low self confidence, etc. They see what they look like and have to deal with it. Help yourself first. Love yourself first. Thanks for sharing…loved it!

    Jen :0
    .-= Jen-JensFitnessTips.com´s last blog ..Olympic Special #1: Luge Abdominals =-.

  13. Jules - Big Girl Bombshell says:

    I do look in the mirror now. Yes, I still see the need to lose weight but I also see that I can still look my best to make me feel better. One of the goals for myself this year is to try my best to look good no matter what the size of my body is. It somehow can take the pain and hurt out of where my thoughts go. Thank you for sharing this.
    .-= Jules – Big Girl Bombshell´s last blog ..Do You Think Too Much? =-.

  14. Sunny says:

    “False body images” doesn’t only apply to the anorexic. They apply to the fat, as well. We all went through it. I think the saddest thing of all is that there are so few family pictures of the last ten years or so except for major events, because I so desperately hid from the camera. So I guess I wasn’t totally avoiding it either; in my heart, I knew how bad I looked, but didn’t care enough then to do anything about it. Why, I’m not sure I’ll ever understand. Great post; thanks!
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..Home, sicker than a dog! =-.

  15. 'Drea says:

    I didn’t see myself either and when I saw pictures of my heavier self, I wondered how the picture could be so warped since there was no way that I could be that big.

    As I continue to lose weight, I have to adjust to a newish me as well, especially my face…
    .-= ‘Drea´s last blog ..Inhale To Recharge =-.

  16. Cynthia (It All Changes) says:

    I wore the same sweater for an entire winter one year because I was embarrassed to buy another in such a large size. My students always asked if I even changed my clothes. The Tshirt underneith was always different but I looked the same on the outside. So sad to remember that.
    .-= Cynthia (It All Changes)´s last blog ..Change of Plans + Goals =-.

  17. John says:

    I saw a lot of myself in your story. Yesterday waiting for my truck to be repaired I found myself looking in the mirror for a good 5 minutes.This new garage I was at had a huge wall mirrored to help show off their truck inside I guess. Well I found myself looking at myself a lot and…..I liked what I saw. I’m only down 30lbs but I already see the change and can see the possibilities!
    .-= John´s last blog ..Good News…Sort Of =-.

  18. Susan says:

    I think I sometimes still see myself as a larger person. Yesterday, a lady joked to me that I needn’t worry about eating cookies because I’m a “size nothing.” It threw me off guard, because I don’t see myself as one of those “thin” girls. I actually dressed better back in my overweight days though. Now all I wear is workout clothes! 😛

    P.S. I finally watched that Dr. Oz episode online – you were wonderful!! So happy you shared you food rating system, that’s one of my favourite tips from you 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..‘F’ is for Balance =-.

  19. karen@fitnessjourney says:

    That made me so sad to read. Once a friend of mine who is struggling with her weight told me that she only buys herself new shoes, not new clothes because then she doesn’t have to go into the fitting room and try them on only to be disappointed. I’m sure she felt the same way that you did. I’m happy to report that she has just started working out with the same trainer that I work with. She e-mailed me the other day to tell me that she was already starting to see results. I was ecstatic. I never want her to feel like what you described.
    .-= karen@fitnessjourney´s last blog ..Be Honest About Diet Foods =-.

  20. Diane says:

    Strange thoughts in my head with this post. We never owned a full length mirror growing up and we do not have one now- the reasons have nothing to do with vanity though. As to clothes, I choose to wear the ones I wear because I have yet to find a style that fits my life. I have no desire to show off my navel to the universe or put my bra on public display ( it’s a modesty thing) so I keep my mom uniform of tee shirts, pull on pants or sweats. I wear a lot of tye dye because the stains do not show as easily. Then there are my “I must appear to look like a grown up to the outside world” clothes and those consist of blouses, skirts( gotta screw on those legs and look like a girl) and blazers. They are timeless, flatter any body type and can be worn for anything. Glasses- this is a funny one. I wear very out dated wide frames because I can actuality see my whole field of vision with them. I will never wear contacts because I would definitely put my eye out getting them in or out and lasik Surgery reminds me of a form of Oriental Torture. As you can see, I too am blind but perhaps for a host of different reasons. As my weight changes I am going to have to seriously re-evaluate all of this. How will I feel ? I don’t know. But I look forward to finding it out !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..Hey mom, what’s for dinner again ? =-.

  21. julie says:

    Amazing that at my biggest, I didn’t have much of a self-image, and was always so shocked and dismayed to see a picture. I vary in what I see now, with my mood. Sometimes I look big, sometimes I look just a little big, sometimes I maybe think like I look like a normalish weight person, getting close. I still hate most pictures.
    .-= julie´s last blog ..Thoughts on reaching goal =-.

  22. Amy S. says:

    O my goodness!! I wasn’t just in denial, I didn’t even look in the mirror. Uh no! No looking meant no doing anything about it… didn’t weigh myself.. wouldn’t is more like it!

    Yikes!
    .-= Amy S.´s last blog ..Catch up… =-.

  23. erin says:

    I had the hardest time seeing myself realistically, and one of the things that woke me up to how big I was seeing a picture of myself. I couldn’t believe how big I looked and how I had seen myself every day and yet did not realize at all my true size. Now, though, I still feel like I don’t realize my true size and still feel like I’m walking around in my old body. I struggle with it every day still.

    (This is unrelated, but for some reason CommentLuv doesn’t seem to like my blog anymore!)

  24. Leah says:

    I have to confess that part of my problem in this weight loss thing has been seeing myself for where I’m at.

    I feel so much better and I know I look better after 25 pounds lost, but it’s easy to think I look great. Then I see myself for where I’m really at and realize I need to keep plugging away, because I still have a ways to go.

    In the past I also hardly saw myself with honest eyes. For some reason, trying clothes on in a changing room is the most eye-opening experience for me. Seeing my backside that close is very shocking… 🙂

    Wonderful post, Diane. It’s so easy to lie to ourselves, or refuse to see where we really are in our health and well being.
    .-= Leah´s last blog ..A Few Of My Thoughts on Running =-.

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