naked: faking it

My friend Lee is ridiculously gorgeous. She is tall, and very slender,
long-legged and narrow-hipped, absolutely lovely with a cloud of blonde hair,
and just generally–gorgeous. Gorgeous was a word that was kind of invented for
her. You are surprised, when you meet her, that anyone could be as pretty
as she is in real life.

And you are lucky to have met her, because she is funny and warm, confident
and hilarious and fun. You can’t imagine her ever having a moment of
self-doubt, because women who look like her have nothing to doubt, or fear. And
she bears that out, every day–she is completely confident in her skin, in
her place in the world. You could hate her for having what you want, if she
didn’t make you feel like you are as flawless and fearless as she is, every
time you hang out with her.

One night, both of us a little tipsy, I found out that she had agreed to
be a photographer’s model, and that it had been one of the hardest things
she had ever done, being naked, being scrutinized and photographed and on
film. “But you’re perfect,” I said–my knee jerk reaction. She
was slender, and pretty, and how could she possibly have body issues?
It didn’t seem right, and it didn’t seem fair, and it wasn’t fair that one of my
most cherished hopes–all I needed in life was to be gorgeous, and all my
problems would be solved–was a big lie.

“Oh my God,” she said. “I’m not. I’m so not perfect.”
“But you’re so–so confident, you know?” I said. “Oh God,”
she said. “I’m not. I’m not. I fake it,” she said. “I fake it
all the time. I fake it until it becomes the truth.” She shrugged. “Sometimes
it doesn’t work.”

So if faking a smile improves your mood,
faking confidence should improve your self-esteem, right? This is my theory: You
play act your awesomeness until you believe it. You believe it, and it becomes
the truth about you. You short circuit the bullshit voices that say the bullshit things that are so easy to believe, that
truncate your life and make things seem difficult, insurmountable, awful. You
might find yourself undoing button after button, standing naked in a studio (or
in front of someone who wants to touch you, who is as confident in your
loveliness as you pretend you are), and you try hard to believe that your body
is art, that you are beautiful, and you can stand there, naked and vulnerable,
because you tell yourself that until you believe it. Sometimes it doesn’t work,
but sometimes–and this is the important part–it does.

3 Replies to “naked: faking it”

  1. She is absolutely right. I learned that trick in high school as an ungainly, redheaded bookworm. If you act as if you are a confident person, people respond to you as if you are a confident person. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and becomes a habit.

    Doesn’t mean life isn’t going to kick you in the butt every so often though!!

  2. Wow-great post! I think I need to re-read that last line over and over again to remind myself that it could work if I just gave it the chance. Thanks for putting this important message out there.

  3. I love the line “and it wasn’t fair that one of my most cherished hopes–all I needed in life was to be gorgeous, and all my problems would be solved– was a big lie.” because I once got VERY skinny thinking that my slightly heavier weight had been the reason I had been so unhappy and life had held me back. And then, I realized being skinny still didn’t mean I would definitely get the guy I wanted (he actually went for a much rounder and curvier girl), didn’t make me “happy” and didn’t get me all the parts I wanted as an actress. (Although, it did make acting agents salivate for me because I was “so tiny!” and also looked much younger than I was- Bad Hollywood! Bad!) I couldn’t wrap my head around it. I was shocked. It rocked my whole being. All my life I assumed if I was “skinny” life would be grand. It was not. It was the same only I was boring and stressed about what I ate all the time. And yet, it still took me another 12 years to really accept and, more importantly, believe in, the lesson there. Huh. The time to live life and love life and be happy and go after what you want is NOW, in the present moment regardless of how you look or what you weigh. We as women often say “When I lose 5/10/15/20/100/200/X amount pounds life will be better.” But really, we are only sabotaging ourselves. And if we have to fake it until we make it, at least we will have been living in the present and making the best of our time here on this earth. Good blog, good lesson!

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