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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » Inside, Outside, Upside Down

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Author Topic: Inside, Outside, Upside Down
wobblyheadedjane
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In another thread, we were getting onto a topic about whether changing our outside ever really has an effect on how we feel about ourselves: our self-image, self-esteem and self-worth. Sometimes mixing it up with a new haircut, or a flashy new outfit can give us the boost we're looking for but for things that run deeper, can changing external things about ourselves give us an internal shift?

I'll start: when I was younger, I would always chop off my hair at the first sign of angst. Breakups, school stress, you name it; whenever something was feeling off in my life, reaching for the scissors (I was oh-so-punk in doing my own hairstyles for a five year period [Razz] ) would give me a new feeling of lightness. It wasn't until too long ago that I found out that shaving one's head or cutting one's hair short was a symbol in the Buddhist tradition for a new beginning - you were clearing out the cobwebs from an old life and starting fresh. Nazarite vows from Old Testament Judaism are a similar mode - one wasn't allowed to shave or cut the hair until the vow was fulfilled, and then at the end all the hair would be cut off and offered to God as a symbol. That said, usually the haircut (in my case) was accompanied by some other deep processing, so for me it felt like the external change was a reflection of the internal change.

But do other things, like more makeup, or spending time at the gym, or plastic surgery (elective cosmetic surgery is on the rise now, for example but that also includes things like breast reductions) promote changes in how we view our body images? Let's get a discussion going on how our internal and external self-images mesh or clash, and whether it matters, and all teh attendant questions that come along with it. It's a bit of a big topic, but I think one worth having, so let's have at it!

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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000
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Well to be perfectly honest, I'd have to say "yeah", physical changes /can/ influence how we feel about ourselves, at least to a limited degree.

All throughout grade school I was average weight (I thought I was a bit chubby, but compared to kids today definitely not), I was not athletic (although I tried), I had short hair cuz that's what my mom liked, and I sported baggy clothes cuz that's what I liked. I also wore glasses. Adults mistook me for a boy. Kids my own age harassed me majorly. I was proud of myself sometimes, in a defiant sort of way, but I was also very conflicted. I was depressed probably most of the time.

At the beginning of middle school I went through a growth spurt, getting a lot thinner and slightly curvy. My face changed to what some people call "pretty". I started dressing more feminine. I got contacts. Eventually, my mom finally allowed me to shave and use a bit of makeup. I still wasn't popular, but people were /so much/ nicer to me, overall. My self-esteem has fluctuated in the years since, and I've never adhered to what most people would call strictly "feminine" behavior patterns. But overall, my self-esteem and happiness with life in general has stayed much higher than it ever did in grade school, and for me I think physical appearance played a role. I think a large part of it was because it /did/ make a difference in how people interacted with me.

[ 12-09-2006, 11:02 PM: Message edited by: iheartdc ]

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Heather
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Strangely, this is one of the few reasons I am GLAD to have a disability.

And I know, that sounds weird.

But I had my first reconstructive surgery on my hand right after my two fingers on my dominant hand were lopped off, and a world of nerve damage was done to the hand as a whole. I had the second about a year later when the first surgery just didn't do the job in terms of functionality. Both of these surgeries were in the mid-seventies, so in case you're unaware, the cosmetic aspects of srugery were not exactly as refined as they are now (however, this does also mean I know, with no delusions, how painful and tough surgeries are and how much healing from them hurts, etc.). From a distance, you'd not be able to see there was any issues with my hand at all. Even in casual conversation or hanging out, most people don't notice, since people just don't tend to look at other people's hands that much.

But up close, and once someone knows me enough to have contact with my hand or look more frequently, this girl has one weird looking hand. [Smile] The two fingers are shorter than my other fingers: one has no sort of fingernail at all, and the top of it wiggles around because it's not actually attached to a bone. The second finger is bent at an angle, and over time has created a divet in the third. neither of the two reconstucted fingers have a second digit: both are quasi-functional, in their own way. In a word, I've just learned to use them in the odd ways they kind of work. I certainly hold everything differently than most people, and I can't do some things which are easy for others, like handwriting, which has gotten progressively more painful over the years.

All that said, while I might -- if I ever had the funds, which would be unlikely -- be up to another surgery to make my hand more functional and less painful, there's really no reason I'd bother with cosmetic surgery.

Some of that is because it'd offer me no benefit. The big reason is because one of the many things having a mangled hand taught me is that there's just little reason to care. I mean, I walk around with a physical abnormality -- have for close to 30 years now -- that few people notice. If I ever get the idea that people are looking at me under a maginifying glass, and that my every perceived or given flaw is something everyone sees, I have my hand to tell me different. Certainly, growing up, I got teased about it a good deal, but no more or less than I got teased about having a single parent (remember: different time), about being poor, about being too smart, about being short, about having big lips or a big nose or red hair, what have you: but childhood and adolescent teasing isn't about a problem with what is being teased: it's the teasing that's the problem as a behaviour, and that isn't fixed by changing what one is being teased about.

I think that my experiences with my hand to thank - not in while, but in a big way -- for being able to differentiate between what is altering onself appearance-wise -- and looking to be someone different -- and what is expressing onself, celebrating onself. And that's a pretty cool thing.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me ē Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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LucysDiamonds
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I'm inclined to think that while physical changes can positively affect the way we feel about ourselves, the effects are longer-lasting in proportion to how much effort we put into them. Example: I have always been slightly chubby. Recently, I started working out at the gym, and while I haven't actually seen results yet (this was only about a week ago), I'm already feeling better about my body. It could be because I know I'm being healthier, it could be in anticipation of when I do actually see results, or it could just be lasting effects of endorphins, but either way, there's been a change.

Also, adding on to what wobblyheadedjane said about haircuts. For a really long time, I had plain, straight brown hair, unremarkable in every way. Then in 11th grade I got it layered and added bangs, and all of a sudden I felt much older and more confident. I think changing something like your hairstyle kind of gives you an opportunity to let out another side of your personality, a little like changing your appearance for a play or something makes it easier for you to slip into a different character. That's not to say that the "new you" would be an act - just that if you're usually shy, and then go and get this chic and sophisticated haircut, who knows? You might suddenly hold your head a little bit higher.

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So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately
Everyone deserves the chance to fly

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September
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I like to change my appearance when I feel like my life is getting too monotonous, or when I want to symbolize that I've reached some sort of crossroads.

My hair has been blue, purple, black and every shade of red there is. Along with that, I like to get my hair cut when I need a change. It has very little to do with how 'good' I look and whether people find me attractive. It's more about having a visible sign for what's been going on inside of me.

On a larger scale, I like to modify my body with piercings and tattoos. I've had my nose, belly button, eyebrow and tragus pierced (though I've taken them all out again by now) and I have three tattoos. I spend a lot of time planning (and saving up for ...) those modifications and they're a big event for me. Especially with my tats, a lot of thought goes into them because I want to express something about who I am. Once it's done, I feel like a million bucks for weeks after, and I still get that feeling whenever I look at my tats.

(I still think, btw, that someone who is considering plastic surgery for purely cosmetic reasons should spend a lot of time thinking on how they feel about their bodies. Because if you hate your body, you're not gonna hate it less if you have silicone breasts or a new nose, because that hatred is a psychological issue. But if you like your body and want to enhance certain features with make-up or tats or whatever - that's a different story.)

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Johanna
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"The question is not who will let me, but who is going to stop me." -Ayn Rand

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Djuna
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Up to maybe halfway through my last year of high school, I felt incredibly unattractive - dressed unfashionably, my hair wasn't cut in any kind of style, I had acne, I wore glasses. Now don't get me wrong, plenty of people look great with glasses, but I'm not one of them. And I always felt that since I could always see the rims, I was trapped behind them.
Anyway, through my last year of school I started to follow fashion a bit more (not as in reading magazines but just seeing what people were wearing), I got contacts, I got my hair styled and I got medical help for the acne. And I felt better for all those things.
The thing that worries me now is my nose. I've always been aware that it's quite large but a few weeks ago I saw the photos from a play I was in and my nose looked HUGE. I don't normally see myself side on, so it looked really bad to me.
I wouldn't say I'm against cosmetic surgery, but it's definitely not for me. (Of course, that doesn't include things like hand reconstructions and skin grafting etc.) The thing is, I caught myself wishing that someone would break my nose so that I'd have to have it restructured. And I know that's pretty unhealthy.
And I thought about it, and basically I guess I'm thinking like this because I'm alone. I find it really depressing to look around seeing couples everywhere, and the obvious reason that I don't have anyone seems to be that I'm unattractive.
So this is a question for couples really I guess: does having someone that loves you make all those insecurities go away?

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ďIn a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I donít know what I am. I donít know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.Ē

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wobblyheadedjane
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No, it really doesn't, I'm afraid. You know that saying, "You have to love yourself before you can love someone else?" It makes a world of difference. If you take a poke around the love and relationships sections of the boards, you'll see a lot of posters who are dating people who are depressed, suffering from an eating disorder, or general body image issues, which speaks to how relationships can't magic away insecurities or illnesses. Same thing goes for reforming abusers through your (general you) love; life just doesn't work that way.

That's not to say that people with insecurities can't have relationships, or even healthy relationships. But you have to be willing to work, really work hard at keeping those demons at bay, through your coping methods of choice. Logically, I know my partner doesn't love me any less when I'm depressed or my libido sucks, or I hate my body - but it's damn hard to feel that myself, and the only person who can change my point of view is me. What *does* help insecurities and issues while in a couple is having another person nearby whom I trust and care about, who's able to say, "Hey, I care about you and I'm worried. Have you seen a doctor lately/been to your therapist/been keeping u[ with your veggies and exercise?" They can often be a much needed kick in the rear to start taking care of myself again, because they can see me hurting myself and speak out.

But other people can't be a magical fix for what's wrong with us, alas, and (not that I'm saying you plan to do this, smileyjoseph, but it happens more often than it should) to use them like that would be kind of crummy.

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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curlycurious
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I agree completely with Miss wobblyheadedjane when it comes to loving yourself before allowing or endorsing the love of a significant other. It's with this issue that I stress the importance of defining the individual before that of a group or a partner.
From a personal perspective, I'm a depressed individual and often feel lame; as if I have nothing to offer (unattractive, too eager to please, and a physical defect). My surroundings aren't the most difficult, but I've had my fair share of ordeals when it comes to my psychological stance, especially concerning relationships. I don't believe that the other individual sees through to who I am, therefore pushing away any inkling of adoration.
I think this is due to the fact that I was an overweight kid until my pre-teens. Yet it was during that period of my life where I gained a sense of character which overrode those "ugly" physical attributes. I knew who I was, what I wanted from life, and held the steadfast fact that beauty wasn't merely a factor of the skin. Although after this "pound-age" had indeed shed, my defining character traits queerily dissipated. This bookworm/homebody found herself more alone than being accepted; or as most like to say "alone in a crowded room." I realized that through this sort of conformity, I lost what made me the diverse factor in my group of friends/family. The big girl with the big heart and big dreams. Now I find myself feeling for people who find themselves looking at a body that seems desirable/lively to the outside eye, but is riddled with a layer of self-imposed imperfections.
Not only does the mental body need just as much attention and confidance as the physical, but it needs to be specific and have a sense of identity.
[Razz]
Confusion is an unpleasant thing.

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I had a lovers quarrel with the world.
-Robert Frost

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ghostie
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I've always kind of..'stuck out' from other people in my schools..
I had very curly frizzy hair, was, and still am, very short, had a very northern accent when I moved down south, I was severely depressed from the age of four (at the time I was just 'sad' a lot for no reason, and it gradually got worse) and just didn't have a lot of good friends.
In year nine I dyed my hair purple and all of a sudden I met new people, people regarded as popular and attractive in the year above got crushes on me and such. Up til year 11 I had my hair all sorts of purples blues reds and blacks..then I straightened it, and again a whole new lease occured. From then on I changed my hair every two months or so, more colours and styles, then I got into piercing. Every hair colour or style or piercing I got just made me burst with enthusiasm for myself and life, gave me confidence in every area, and that has always been the case.

However, last christmas I became ill and it was discovered I had severe anxiety problems as well as depression, and was agoraphobic..
This meant I couldn't go to the hairdressers, couldn't go shopping for clothes or makeup like before, couldn't get piercings (though, before I was diagnosed I pushed myself to get two septum piercings, the first one grew out, yikes!) and I just couldn't have anything the same as before.
My family would try to compensate by buying me the odd tshirt if they were out with my sister or whatever, but it wasn't the same. I lost the majority of my friends who couldnt be bothered to see me and who didn't understand.

Now that I'm beginning to recover, I am pushing myself to get out to the hairdressers (I got extensions and I am THRILLED beyond belief with the way I look and the fact I sat in a hairdressers for 4 hours!) Very few people would understand how much some things lift my self esteem. For almost a year I have been in crisis about the way I look, and now I feel like a whole new person. I haven't been able to push myself to get out because I felt so grotesque and unhappy, I would look in the mirror and cry.

I am now accepting and happy with every aspect of my body [Smile] (yes I feel a bit podgy and my nose isn't perfect and I am craving new piercings like heck [Razz] ) But I now know I can make the most of what I've got, and I don't need surgery to do that.
Perhaps if I was a lot worse off in the way of looks, to the point where nothing else would satisfy my life, and I had felt that way for many years, knowing it was not just a phase..

Long reply >.<

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not_a_hobgoblin
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I used to have incredibly long hair, down to the small of my back. I had not had my hair below my shoulders for eleven years, since first grade, and about a month ago I got it cut to chin-length. It's made some definite changes in me; I sometimes feel older and more sophisticated because it is a more sophisticated haircut, but I also feel more free and less out-of-character or embarrassed by my frequently childlike mannerisms because the last time my hair was this short, I was five.

Another big change this year is that I pretty much purged my wardrobe of all preppy clothing, and now I wear more punk and 'romantic' goth clothes (and TONS more black) than I ever had before. It makes me feel, oddly enough, braver, as if since I already stand out I don't have to hide anything.
Wearing black also frequently has a noticable effect on my winter blues. I used to always feel all grey and washed out, almost invisible, when I was having a bad 'no-sun' day. But when I'm in black, I feel 'anchored;' I don't get so washed-out and exhausted by the day-to-day experience. Odd, huh?

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"Cut her down."
"She is a witch!"
"But she's our witch. Cut her down."

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lizenny
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Rather than the external affecting the internal, my situations sort of worked in reverse. Back when I was in Catholic school, (yes, another Catholic school story) I always felt particularly repressed personality-wise. I'd say much more than an institution like that usually represses someone. First they wanted me to stop being so withdrawn and going off to stand or sit alone somewhere(or as I called it: taking time to think and minding my own business). This was under the reasoning that "People might think you're crazy." Then they wanted me to "tone it down" and "stop being so over the top". If you've seen the incredible overuse of bold and italics in many of my posts you should be able to figure out that being "over the top" for lizenny is otherwise known as "talking". These things weren't implied. These were direct requests from administration to prevent me from making a spectacle of myself should the superintendant of the Catholic board happen to show up unannounced. How hospitable. Any deviation from those requests would land me in the counselors office to "talk about it."

During that time I would find any and every method of bending the uniform code. I often felt as if I was being purposely swept under the carpet. I was the school's dirty secret. (What happened in my Coming Out Story (link) certainly didn't help matters!) In response, I became the big lime green rhino in the room. If I wasn't allowed to act a certain way, I sure as hell was going to look it. Chokers, wristbands, arm bands, bandanas, slogan buttons, safety pins, black lipstick, crepe paper and jingle bells are just a few of the things I added to my daily ensemble (not all at once!!) to replace everything that was resricted. Casual clothing days, of course, were on a whole other level. Predictably, I hardly ever got away with any of this stuff.

I also had an extreme attachment and loyalty to my hairstyle back then. No amount of money, popularity or superstardom could get me to change it. It was curly and frizzy and kept in a huge bushy ponytail. Not so strange in hindsight, but it really stuck out against the sea of relaxed "used-to-be-afro" type hair that all (and I do mean ALL) the other girls had. The administration didn't like that either, but they couldn't technically police it so I held on to it for dear life since it was the only thing they couldn't take from me.

Now that that heavy burden is off my shoulders and I no longer have to prove a case for my sanity for anyone who should happen to come along, I dress relatively plainly with maybe a couple of accents here and there. I no longer have a need for my appearance to be my outlet. I still wear my hair exactly the same way and love it but it's gone through changes between then and now without issue.

After posting this, somehow my rebellious phase doesn't feel quite as stupid anymore. [Smile]

[ 01-28-2007, 06:13 AM: Message edited by: lizenny ]

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I AM WOMAN...THE REMIX!!!

You catch more flies with manure than you do with honey.

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Clarey-Fairy
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From my point of view: yes, yes it can.

I am very interested in body modding - that is, body modification, such as piercing, tattooing, dermal anchors, etc. There's a world of possibility there.

At the minute, I only have piercings, but they have really raised my self-esteem beyond what I ever thought was possible. They are very theraputic for me, and I use them as an alternative to various forms of self-harm I have previously used in the past.

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Find Clarey-Fairy at: LiveJournal, deviantART and MySpace.

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Conscience-calmed
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I used to have hair down past my hips - I grew it out with no haircuts for five years. At the end of last summer I cut it all off. I had been going through depression and having a hard time, and I knew it was time to change. Now that I feel it's time to change again, I'm dying it purple. It's once thing that I can change for expression that will always grow back, although I do intend on getting six tattoos and three more piercings when I turn 18.

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We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

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Tyciol
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I can sort of share with that urge to just cut off all your hair with tragedy... it sort of intensifies the longer your hair gets too, and especially if it's length is related to it.

Although I've not succumbed to it [Smile]

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neoonline
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Well Let me ask one Question before expressing my view.

Yes you wanted to change your look,expecting that you will feel better if you do so. Fine Valid.
But if You still feel the same what will be the next move ? keep changing till you feel better or tired loosing your Natural Beauty ?

I stand out and say, No matter how you are , Its the way you think you are is what matter most.Because As far as I understood this real world, So called Beautiful are not the ones that are happy.I Don't say they are not but those who are considered not beautiful are not unhappy too. Because its not "Eye" but the mind.

If you realise a Beautiful mind is not essentially covered in a shiny wrapper. You will feel the fragrance touching you always.

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Sex is not the sole entity in a relationship. There are commitment,trust,and companionship.
One will realize them in unconditional love.

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libertatissacra
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I think external changes can definitely affect the way we feel. I just look back to all my piano competitions, and I remember that I always performed best when I knew I was wearing something that made me look good. When I was younger, getting a new dress that I loved and performing in it always made me feel great. Then I went through a phase where I performed in a suit and tie, came to the realisation that I actually looked really good in male formal wear, and felt great on stage in that as well.

I did the haircut thing as well. Though for me, cutting my hair didn't necessarily centre around any events in my life. I'd just decide to cut off my mess of frizzy hair every now and then, and always felt really confident and good about myself when I did. Laziness and business has kept me from keeping my vow to keep it short over the years, but eh. It makes it feel all the better when I finally do get around to getting a hair cut.

More recently, piercings has kind of become a thing of mine. On my 18th birthday, I went out and got three more holes done in my ears. Not so much because my parents wouldn't let me (I never bothered asking them, and they weren't angry when I came home with new holes in my body), but just as something to celebrate me being a legal adult and starting a new stage in my life. When I moved out, I got my nose pierced as a slightly more extreme way of showing off my newfound independence. And I've found that I really like the new look I have evolving now that I can freely make my own decisions. I'm undecided on if I'll get any more piercings, but getting the ones I have was definitely a great experience, they look great, and it was a good way for me to externalise my steps towards indepenence.

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"America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between."
-Oscar Wilde

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XArexYouxGothlicX
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I remember when I changed back in Sophomore year. I went from I guess what people would label me as a 'Prepp.. Which I didn't like at all.. To a 'Goth'. Which wasn't any better. And I got so many rude remarks. I hate labels. And it made depressed.. I barely had any friends. And the friends I had all thought I was doing it fer some boy, which I wasn't. It was purely fer me. Mother finally let me after years of begging. Lawl. And now, I look back, and I'm happy with that change a made Three years ago.

If it weren't fer that change, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Granted, I'm not 'goth' anymore. But, I don't really care. I have my own fashion. Which lets me express how I want to. Lets me feel how I want. And I love it. People are just so quick to judge these days. And it's rather stupid. Though, I do miss my old hair. Lawl. I want to get it cut.

But, I guess what I'm trying to say, and failing miserably at it, is be who are, no matter what people tell you. Be different. Don't let other people bring you down. [Big Grin]

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"It's just me and Da Kurlzz, we're taking over the world."

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Independence_Day
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I had my hair long for a LOT of years, and then--just recently--I cut it to just beyond my shoulders (it used to be to my hips, like conscience-calmed's). I had always been too afraid to cut my hair, and then when I finally cut it I felt liberated. I felt like "Look that wasn't so bad, was it? Now lets go conquer some other, more real fears." It was a confidence booster. Doing something tiny that I had been afraid to do helps me to conquer bigger things. In order to work my courage, I've been trying to do little things that I was afraid to do but don't hurt. I got rid of a ton of stuff I'd never wanted to begin with. At the last dance I went to, I asked a bunch of guys to dance, including one I really like. Just little things like that help me to be able to do bigger things, like share my creative ideas and talk about things that need to be said but that make me uncomfortable.

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Iím selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you canít handle me at my worst, then you sure as h*** donít deserve me at my best. --Marilyn Monroe

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May Day
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something that really made me feel good about myself is getting my dreads. Until i left highschool i'd always had long hair, which is very thick but v fluffy. Once school was done i got v short and skinny dreadlocks and i thought from the start that i looked really fabulous with them. While i love fashion and sewing, i really don't make the funky casual clothes i'd like for every day so when i see my dreads i feel really pleased because i can still share that unique creative side with other ppl.

i still consider myself a bit of a chubber so i spend almost every night at the gym. Am a lot fitter that's for sure:) but while i haven't reached my mass goal yet, its a great feeling knowing im looking after my body. Also, when i put on my corset on on saturday evening and my big hips show off my very tiny waist, i feel even better:D

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Blue Koi
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My metaphor:

As a swimmer, there's this rule where you can't shave your legs unless it's the day before/the day of a REALLY BIG CHAMPIONSHIP MEET. It's supposed to make you "go faster" in the water. The theory is that you have all that "hair drag" when you train with hairy legs, and when you shave it off, the water will have less drag and you go faster.

Well, it doesn't really. There's no scientific proof of it. So why do we swimmers with our high tech equipment still keep it up? It's all in the head.

It's a mental thing. It's a ritual that allows us to perform better. It's a way of coping. Changing image is a way of coping with our circumstances. It sends a subtle message to others about where we are in life.

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"Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions."

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wobblyheadedjane
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It's probably a little egomaniacal to bump my own topic, but here we go anyway:

I got the beginning of my first tattoo ever on Saturday (it's a big one, so it's gonna be a few more sittings) but the effect on my self-esteem has been so powerful and empowering! The experience of choosing designs, meeting with an artist, toughing out the discomfort of the actual process and caring for myself during the healing has really taught me a lot about my mettle and self-care.

Also, VERY ADDICTIVE, beware. I am already plotting number two! [Razz]

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Unlucky at cards; lucky at love.

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Jill2000Plus
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I've never really found that changing the way I look affects how I feel, I've dressed as I feel most physically comfortable since my early teens and I'm really glad that's what I decided to do. I actually find the idea of getting a piercing terrifying, which doesn't mean that I think others shouldn't if they want to (though I don't agree with parents piercing their children's ears, it should be something the individual child chooses if they want it, I've heard appalling stories of parents getting their unwilling children's ears pierced while they cry their eyes out, what on earth makes them think they have the right is beyond me), I just really can't bear the thought of getting one myself. I did feel quite good about cutting my hair, but that was because I didn't have to manage it very much anymore, I used to have really long hair in plaits (pigtails) and it was a relief to cut it to shoulder length, plus now I can shake it around all over the place when I'm listening to music.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Chocolicious
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From my perspective, my physical appearance and maintaining that is kind of like paying tribute to me as a person.

I hate the people who assume that girls who like to wear makeup and dye their hair and wear fake nails are vain, or somehow unhappy with themselves and are trying to cover it up.

When I decide to put on make up, or put in my contacts, or dress up a little, it's not because I feel like an ugly sack without it, but because I want to. The way I look at it, I'm this piece of art, and all of the stuff I put on are enhancements to this artwork. They don't fundamentally change the lines and strokes of it, they don't make it a new piece entirely, but add something different and special.

I know people who feel the need to put in contacts because they hate glasses; for me I put in contacts so I can wear neon yellow Risky Business sunglasses. I put on makeup because I have this really sparkly, pretty pink eyeshadow that makes me feel like a pinup-model.

So, in that sense, my physical appearance helps my self-esteem definitely.

But I also don't think wearing all that makeup and putting those contacts in will suddenly make yourself this confident, sexy creature, without already feeling that without enhancing anything.

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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."-- Dr. Seuss

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tneill512
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I do that too, but I never thought of it this way. I used to cut my bangs a lot, or I'd randomly start wanting to cut my hair and whatnot. I never connected the two things together, but now that I think of it: every time I wanted to cut my hair or something, something stressful or hurtful was going on in my life. How very odd. Thank you for opening my eyes!
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TheTasteOfPurple
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This thread actually gave me the insight to come to a decision about my hair. I've been sort of wanting to grow it out for a while, just because so many people (myself included) have said, "Oh, you looked so pretty with long hair!" Thinking about it, I realized that a huge part of my self-expression is my current haircut; I'm not really all that whimsical or arbitrary about my hair, it's just that it represents something difficult to put into words. For now I am keeping my mohawk, because I feel that it represents me better than any other hairstyle I could have--at least to myself. Others may have different perceptions associated with a mohawk.

As for changing your appearance impacting the way you feel about yourself, I think what really matters is who you're doing it for. If it's for others, then you probably will feel ambivalent or even really icky about the change; if it's to better represent your self-perception, then it will generally make you feel awesome. One dramatic example could be people who are transgender; when dressing in the assigned clothing of their biological sex, most of the transpeople I know are uncomfortable and feel unlike themselves, whereas dressing in the clothing they feel is suited to their gender feels comforting and empowering (although if people they know have negative reactions to their new look, it can be a not-so-happy experience.)

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Julia

The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller

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Arisan
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I agree that you can boost confidence by changing your appearance, but you should make sure that the boost is coming because YOU like the change, not because other people do.

You shouldn't change your appearance just because you think it will make you more accepted. It's ok to feel better about yourself because you like the new hair color, or think your haircut makes you look cute. Just make sure if noone else likes the color or cut, that you don't lose that confidence in yourself. If you do, then it wasn't SELF confidence in the first place, it was only confidence in other people's opinions.

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My world doesn't revolve around you, but you are my closest neighbor in the solar system.

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GirlAnachronism
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I've joked for a while that the next time I have a major emotional upheaval I'm going to lop my hair off - it's hip-length and has been very long for almost half of my life, so it would be a pretty big change. If it comes down to it, though, I think the only way I'd dare is if this 'big emotional upheaval' sends me slightly insane. I see my hair as my individuality in some ways. It means that I can't look entirely conventional whatever I wear, and I love it for that. I would only cut it off if I wanted to feel like a different person.

I think over the past year and a half I have become both happier and prettier. I only noticed recently that I seem to have lost some weight over that time, so that could be a factor, but then, I wasn't exactly trying, so all in all I think it's a good argument for what's on the inside counting. Or perhaps it's just that my self esteem has improved, and that's what makes me feel prettier. I still look at old photographs and think that I looked terrible in them, though, which is pretty much what I thought at the time. I don't know. All the conclusions I can draw from it work both ways.

Makeup affects me a lot. Sometimes if I'm feeling really bad I'll put on full makeup, just because it makes me feel better. That looks kind of unhealthy - I could be doing it to put on a mask or because I think if I look pretty then my problems will become easier. But it could also be about having some control over a situation - sometimes putting on a mask isn't a negative thing, I suppose. So long as you're not doing it all the time or feel like you need to wear makeup to face anything or anyone.

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Britster
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I have experienced some change- not plastic surgery by any means, but I had had long hair for over much of my life that I can remember. When I got it cut, it was as if I were a different person in some respects. But I think the key is that even if I felt differently about my self-image, my self-esteem was still low until I resolved some issues. Cutting the hair certainly didn't fix it.
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The Confused One
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To me, physical appearances only changes a small bit of ourselves on the inside. It's just like how a teacher shows you the door, but you must be the one to open it and step through. It's like a guidance to feeling better about ourselves.

I can't really remember what I felt at 6 years old, but during my kindergarten years, I had long hair and LOVED it. At that time, the cartoon Sailormoon was famous and everyday, I'd force my mum to tie up my hair like the main character xD

Then came primary school and my mum forced me to cut my hair SHORT. I went about VERY displeased about having my hair at my neck, not touching my shoulders and bangs that made me feel insanely hot. Not hot as in hawt, but temperature hot. I was always burning everyday x.x

Then in Year 2, I saw a ballerina and the way her hair was tied up. I was like, "I WANT THAT AND YOU CAN'T STOP MEEEEE!!!". Obviously, mum was grudging to let me, but meh, I felt soooooooo good after all the frustrations of growing my bangs and having to clip it up so that it won't disturb my eyes. And soon, my fringe was longer than my back hair [Embarrassed] It stayed at that same hairstyle for another... 7, 8 years? I finally changed my hairstyle last year Dec [Razz]

I used to only like my hair. And hated the bald spot that was growing at the front of my head D: Before this, my mum had always cut my hair. Never went to the hairdresser's. Last year, right before my bday, I told my mum, I wanted a new hairstyle and wanted a professional to cut it and theres nothing she can do to stop me :3 Went and got a layer cut with a side parting. Now, it's almost a year later and I LOVE my hair again [Big Grin]

I noticed with this new hairstyle, I got more healthier too. I started washing my hair every single day and viola! No more dandruff ^_^ I also seem to be able to stand straighter, I used to hunch like crazy. Now, people call me cute and pretty [Embarrassed] Though I keep denying it, it's making me feel good. My bald spot is also definitely growing back to normal and my side parting is finally staying there [Big Grin] (For half a year, I had to continuously make sure the line is straight so that I won't need to keep combing D: )

My new hairstyle didn't change how I look all that much. But it showed me the doorway to making myself look much more confident. Best thing about my current hairstyle is that I can look cute, pretty, emo, goth, crazy, anything and I still look awesome 8D. And no, I don't wear makeup [Razz]

(Sorry for the long post D: Relieving old, good memories make things long >.<)

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Wheeeeeeee!

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Jill2000Plus
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The Confused One, in case you're interested, they're rereleasing the Sailor Moon manga (and the Sailor V prequel which hasn't had an official English release before) translated into English later this year, the anime is still impossible to find on DVD unless you're willing to pay, like, over a thousand dollars for one season (and it will quite likely be used, in fairness the films are more affordable even if they are significantly marked up), but if you want to see what the manga's like, your chance is coming.[/otaku knowledge]

I'm getting frustrated because I keep meaning to get my hair cut and forgetting to make the appointment, I usually get it cut at the local college because it's cheap, but they're closed for the summer (I think, I'll double check that), so I may have to wait until the new academic year. It's frustrating not so much because of how I look but more because I'm sick of it taking so much effort to brush and wash. I just might cut it really short, but I'm not sure how that would look, and I imagine it would probably lead a great number of people to start assuming I'm a butch lesbian and saying nasty things when I pass them in the street, which of course they shouldn't, I wish there was no homophobia. To be clear though, my main reason is that I'm not convinced that really short hair would suit me, if I really wanted to do it I would, and maybe I'd wear a T-Shirt saying "I'm a bisexual dyke" for good measure. And actually I am kind of butch, but I like having my hair be a bit "girly".

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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ralphie41
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The best thing i find about my appearance (i find) is how i can change it-one day I can be a folksy hippie fairy and the next a sleek stylish supermodel, the next i can wear leggings, a hoodie and no makeup - just because I feel like it. Looking after your appearance can be really therapeutic at busy/ stressful times aswell , as it gives you some time for yourself where you can LITERALLY do nothing else ( nail polish takes like a thousand years to ACTUALLY DRY). However I think it makes little difference if you have persistent problems with body image and self esteem - there are always going to be flaws and parts of your body you don't like - it's more about learning to accept that and moving on. Sure surgery is fine in theory, but i think it can be hard to make sure that you are doing it for the right reasons.

A lot of people have been talking about hair and how changing it can represent a new start- I agree! Also changing your hair is so easy - it's high impact at the time, but it grows back so nothing's permanent [Smile]

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"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live"

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