Thursday, April 02, 2009

How we see ourselves VS how others see us.

My mom asked for a picture of a painting my step dad made for me when I was in college. Its a giant pop art painting of me as a 10 year old. Done in orange red and brown. She said he wanted to do another one but wanted to see that one first. Sadly its in storage in a different state as I had no where to hang it in my tiny apt.

So all this got me thinking about how others portray us vs. how we portray ourselves. There was this guy in highschool who made my life a nightmare. At the time I thought he was doing it cause he was a nasty boy. Now I wonder if he focused so intently on me cause he liked me but was still a nasty boy. OH what did he do you ask. He was the comic artist of the school newspaper and my senior year he had an entire story line with me "Princess Penelope and the Funky Clothes" He would draw these awful gangly photos of me in this horrible way and I looked like I had a horse head on a twig body with lots of freckles and a bob. He even did a full page of me in different poses and one was of me naked with fig leaves. I was fucking mortified. Seriously I was 18 and I already was a social leper. My mom the snooper she is found it in my room and photocopied it and mailed it to relatives. Thanks mom. She loved it and would laugh and laugh. Seriously that damn drawing fucked me up in the head. That was about the time my anorexia kicked in. By the time I graduated highschool and went to college I was under 100 lbs. That was then this is now. I haven't seen that drawing in over 10 years I don't know what I would think if I saw it today. I might laugh. I might cry.

This whole train of thought made me think about how others see me vs how I see me. Not in a whole body image sort of way. More on a superficial what kind of drawing, comic would they make of me VS how would I do it. What would they focus on and what would I? As a teenager the natural instinct would to focus on my thinness and very severe bob. But now at 30 what is it that a characture artist would pull out? So I thought on that and I have 3 examples of how others portrayed me. I am very very lucky to have these. I am beyond flattered.

This first one is from Cayusa on Flickr

This amazing drawing is from Julie Mack. The cutest bride to be ever. She is getting married this weekend! squee

This painting is from cali Pop artist Neal Breton. See his site in my links for more of is fantastic work.

So the thing I notice is my features and appearance really work best in a Pop Art style. I am very fair skinned and have small features and small stature but tend towards solid colors and I like lots of contrast.

How would you portray me? Want to do a drawing trade? You can do me and I will reciprocate. Its not limited to drawing any medium you prefer. I am TERRIBLY curious what about me stands out to others.

How I see myself. I see myself in very black and white manners. Every single self portrait drawing or painting I have been done completely in 2 colors. Usually in black and white. Never any shading or tones. While these pieces are a bit old. To this day that is what I immediately go to when tasked with "showing me".

is that because its the style of art I prefer or just how I see myself. This is something I really have to chew on. I think I might stop at the caricature artist in Faneuil Hall this weekend and see what he does.



david said...

I love this post. Love it. My initial reaction is to portray you in high contrast pop-y style too but I think that must be a result of being close to the process you mention above. I'll have to think on this one...

Nicole said...

I've always wished that people saw me with fairies dancing around me. I always wished they saw a natural sort of beauty but I don't think anyone sees me as anything more than a goofball. I'm kind of a backwards low-self-esteemer. I see the beauty in my own look, but it doesn't seem like anyone else does. I'm not narcissistic about it, but I'll say "Hm, this make up makes my eyes look very attractive" and I'll get a pat on the head "Yes, Nikki. You look so cute in your big-girl make-ups." I guess that's the blight of being a comedian. No one takes you seriously.

hillary said...

In my day to day life I don't get taken seriously at all. I get treated like a child by people at work. The way I dress and such they think and treat me like I am 12.
Oh your so cute wearing your little heels aww.
Yeah I get the big girl thing too often. I think online I am perceived MUCH differently than in life. I also have a VERY young voice and get mistaken for a child on the phone. "is your mommy there?" "Bitch I am 30"

I want people to see picture me with lady of shallot hair wearing a flowing gown with NO STAINS ON it while holding a monkeys hand. No really.

Nicole said...

No stain? Now come on. I thought we were being serious. That's just crazy. Everyone knows there's no such thing as no stains.

treesaw said...

I'm totally picturing you with the long flowy hair and a monkey (although in my mind, the monkey has long flowy hair too)!

I wish I could draw, cause I would totally be into a swap. But I can't. Unless you want a stick drawing of yourself. Ha!

dawn said...

I am just now, at age 34, STARTING to be okay with the way I look. Sort of. Well, I have moments at least.

Anonymous said...

from my crooked hem...

this question you are pondering makes me think of these identity wheels we did as a training activity which ask these same do you see yourself, how do you perceive others to see you.

Strangely enough, people seem to think I am very different than I truly am. Because I wear scarves on my head, and almost exclusively skirts/dresses I have been perceived as religious (I am not). I also get the impression that people think I am older than I am too.

You should get your package soon...its not a drawing, but I made something for you, using you as inspiration!

hillary said...

dawn. I think you are a tall beautiful sprite. (yeah I know makes no sense but its true) and I feel you I only at 30 started feeling ok in my skin. Its a uphill battle but I now have shoes with treads.

Nicole. I know I was insane to think it. :P

Teresa. Why not! Lets do it sister. Hey you could dress in something you think is me. You could arrange cutout pics in a way that reminds you of me. etc etc

Dave I know too close to see the image.

crooked hem
When I used to have friends I hung out with and did things with people (now I am a hermit with little people interaction) people always saw me as something I wasn't PRIME EXAMPLE. The day my husband met me he thought I had drugs in my bag. I had navy blue hair dye..... Yeah I was always a goody two shoes and people thought I was some party girl even though they had never seen me party.

Kelly said...

I can't believe that shithead did that to you in school. How totally awful.

Nicole - I feel that way a lot too. I see beauty in a part of me but I can tell others don't always see it the same way.

MLE said...

This was very, very interesting, on a number of levels.

I always got taken for the good girl. I would lie right to teachers' faces and they would believe me, because I was a nice kid with a nice face and a nice family. And the most mortifying comments I ever got as a teenager were about how responsible I was, how like a mom I was.
It may explain why I rebelled so much in university. And it also explains why I fell so hard for my husband - because he saw me as the romantic, dreamy-eyed poet I believed I was.

Today, I am not sure what people would fixate on. Everyone online and in my day-to-day life fixate on how warm and kind I am. I am not sure why that comes across so strongly. But visually? I am not sure. Most caricatures of me just focus on my big nose. :)

hillary said...

emily I have never noticed your nose. Honestly. I had to think about it when you said it. nose? huh I noticed she had one....

MLE said...

Well that's pretty funny! Usually it's the nose or the boobage that elicits commentary from strangers. Honestly, though? Cause I have had time to think about it this afternoon, I would love it if someone did a portrait of me as a Klimt painting, like Danae Sleeping. I guess that's how I like to think of myself.

Leah said...

OMG, I can't get over the fact that such a nasty cartoon was allowed to be printed in the school paper!!! Where were the teachers??? Awful, horrible, awful, and no one deserves to be treated like that.

I love the pop art photo of you. I think you should be in color, but I can relate to viewing oneself in black and white. I have zero artistic knowledge, ability (my living room is painted bright, bright yellow, so there you have it.)

hillary said...

The full page of different poses wasn't in the paper just photo copies by him and handed out

Dave77459 said...

How very interesting. I can truly say that I have never contemplated how others see me, at least graphically. At the same time, I do have "thumbnails" stored of the people I know. They aren't black and white, they are saturated with colours. I guess my memories are from VistaVision.

I used to have a photographic memory, so perhaps that has affected how I see and remember people.

I'll stop before I get all deep and stuff.

Oh, and that boy from school was hopelessly mean. You may think you were a social leper, but imagine his life where the best he could manage from his affection for you was cruelty. How sad for him, really.