Disclaimer: this post really is about the healing power of art – if I talk about my negative feelings about myself, I’m not looking for any type of compliment or reassurance, this is all a healing process and I’m becoming more aware of my feelings and how they can be very sneaky sometimes!
I started this stitched self-portrait in mid February, 2019 and worked on it as often as I could over approximately 6 weeks. The image I used was a photo I took of myself in the morning, just out of bed and having taken the dog out, my hair was a mess, my hood up because it was cold out, my glasses on because I was probably reading something at my computer. Usually, I don’t like pictures of myself – and very rarely, if ever, do I post “selfies” – I don’t see the point – I don’t like looking at pictures of myself and I certainly don’t like when other people look at me in general. When I was little, I remember getting so upset at the dinner table because my siblings would stare at me – I don’t know if they were ever really starting at me or if they did it because they knew it bothered me (probably the latter). I think I have issues around “being seen”. I didn’t really like this photo either, but decided to use it anyway. Maybe there was something easier about posting a picture that, to me, was clearly not trying to look good and was simply a mess, which is a bit closer to my actual feelings about myself.
I began this piece feeling that my face looks terrible, my hair was ridiculous, I have so many wrinkles! my eyebrows are turning white (I’m old), my face is fat, my nose is big, that hood looks stupid, I look bad with glasses on… Very negative – things I would never let my kids say about themselves, things I would address with art therapy clients to help them love themselves more. This running commentary in my head was so quick I almost didn’t notice it happening. However, I noticed during the process of creating this portrait that my feelings toward the image (and myself) shifted. (I posted about this on my Instagram account where I’ve been sharing the process pictures.)
As I worked on the stitching I began to feel so much affection for the image and myself. I love the color of my eyes… I really enjoyed stitched the hair portion of the image – some dark brown, some black, some blondish bleached color – all going in different directions. All the other issues that came up in the beginning faded away as I came closer to finishing this piece.
I am still not immune to self criticism and judgement, but I’m more and more aware of myself and the reality of being human.
So now I can’t wait to begin the next portrait and fall in love with every feature of the person in the photo and in the stitches. The whole process will be filled with positivity, and so will the finished piece 🙂