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.