A Hard Look at Your Public Image

Identity and presentation are often — if not usually — very different.

How do you see yourself? How do you present to the rest of the world, and how are you seen by others? How cohesive are these two views?

Consider that everybody who maintains a public presence must know with acute accuracy how they are seen and perceived by audiences and individuals on a daily basis. Their careers depend on it. Celebrities, public speakers, salespeople, politicians and other public figures hire people to help them look their best, communicate effectively and project a positive and charismatic image to the world. The rest of us are out here on our own. No entourage of makeup artists, speech coaches, personal trainers, etc.

On the other hand, how many of us are secure enough in our own identities that we would welcome such a brutally honest look at ourselves as we REALLY appear to the world in order to improve our image? How many of us can let go of our comfortably ingrained personal sense of how we want to look, and hope we do look, and find out where all of our warts, wattles, scales, nose-pickings, nervous tickings, Quasimodo-like posture, fat rolls and dribblings are happening while we blissfully ignore them?

It’s all too easy to say that you don’t care about all that, you’re not so vain and self-immersed that it matters to you what other people think. However, if you want to progress on a pathway to success in any field or in any endeavor, you have no choice but to care — and care a lot. Especially as a transgender or intersex person.

Whether we delude ourselves with an overblown self image, or diminish ourselves by settling for too little, hiding from ourselves either way is a cover for fear of our own truths. Rationalizing our public image is so much easier to do and easier to feel good about, even though in reality it holds us back.

I, for one, have been a master of self-deception in this area. I have maintained a self-image of the way I want to be for a long, long time. My magical bathroom mirror has shown me a visage I find acceptable each day before I launch myself into society. Photoshop has been my friend in allowing me to tweak my image in ways I felt comfortable sharing with the world via the Internet. Occasionally, however, unalterable photographic evidence of my shortfall from this illustrious self image has displayed the ugly troll-like reality of me. Those shocking exposures have quickly been hidden in folders deep in my backup drives, rarely to be stumbled upon in horror again.

Today that delusional dance is no longer acceptable to me. I need to know for certain how I am seen and perceived by the world outside of my skull, by the people who interact with me every day. I need to know what every celebrity, public speaker, salesperson, politician and other public figure knows about themselves. I am finally ready to look myself in the camera’s eye and find out the visible truth — the way other people actually see me moving through the world — so that I can improve myself in real ways. No Photoshop to hide behind this time.

And as I discover who and what I honestly have to work with, I will be transforming myself one step at a time into the greatest possible reality that I can become, making the best use of what I have to work with. I hope that what I learn about myself will help you to align yourself with your best image, your best public presentation, and your greatest self-satisfaction.

I just want all of us to Be the Best we can Be, not just feel okay.

So, I took pictures.

Try to ignore the dogs, they’re just hamming it up for the camera. Seeking attention. Can’t imagine who they get that from.

So this is how I look today, full length, front, sides and back. Don’t laugh too hard at the bodybuilding t-shirt on my geeky frame. Bodybuilding.com < http://www.bodybuilding.com >  is actually my favorite place to buy my sport supplements, especially protein powder. No, I’m not affiliated with them. But I am going to look into it.

What I see here is not as bad as I had braced myself for, but certainly not the image of myself I have in my head. However, this is where I start to merge the reality with the aspiration.

Good points I see are:

•    I’m not grossly overweight
•    I’m not terribly short
•    My hips are not overly wide

Short list, isn’t it?

Here’s what the photographs tell me I need to improve upon with posture, exercise, wardrobe, grooming, etc.:

•    My skull has a bizarre shape seen from the sides and I need to find someone who can give me a professionally engineered haircut to visually fix that weirdness.

•    I have a small hunchback caused partly from computer work, but mostly from years of subconsciously slouching in an effort to visually diminish the embarrassing and unfortunate chest I was cursed with from puberty. I believe this can be straightened up at least somewhat with proper exercise and conscious vigilance toward carrying myself upright. I have to commit to finding ways to accomplish that.

•    My shoulders are narrow and sloping. I need tailored clothing and proper exercise to visually square and widen my shoulders.

•    My hips, though not as wide as they might be, are still just a bit wider than they should be for a fit, manly silhouette. Exercise and tailoring will help visually correct this.

•    I have a disturbing kinesiological misalignment that causes my right arm to stick out from my body in an odd manner. Must find out what causes this and how to correct it.

•    I have a short waist and need to find clothing that visually lengthens my torso.

•    I have small feet and must choose shoe styles that look larger without fitting my feet badly.

•    I look soft all over and need to harden myself up; i.e. cut the bodyfat down.

This list is a good start toward making some significant self improvements just from reviewing these photos. I plan to take photos fairly regularly as I try various approaches to correct these problems, and I will be focusing on other problem areas as I uncover them. So there will be before-and-after images of transformation happening here, and I will be passing forward the solutions and resources I discover while improving myself that you might also benefit from.

Be watching for future postings. In the meantime, your observations and queries are always welcome.


header image courtesy www.freeimages.co.uk

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  1. AdamNo Gravatar says:

    Big follower of the page, a bundle of your articles have really helped me out. Looking forward to updates!

  2. BroderickNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Adam. Guess I better keep writing, then!

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