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April 7, 2012 / ilegirl

Eye v. Camera

This outfit is from a few weeks ago, before I had my hair cut.

I had decided to play around with collars, wearing a white polo underneath the argyle sweater.

I like the concept, and I thought the outfit looked fine the day I wore it.  When I looked at the photo, though, I felt self-conscious because the height and angle of the camera exaggerate my proportions.

For example, I look like a flat-chested tomboy with weirdly short legs.  And while there’s nothing wrong with a flat-chested tomboy with short legs, it’s not how I want to perceive myself, nor how I wish other people to perceive me.

If I relied upon photos to feed my self-image, in this case I’d be pretty screwed up.

do have legs that are disproportionately short – if one uses the Scandanavian body as the ideal proportion.  My short Scottish legs are pretty functional – they’re strong and can stride for miles uphill (in the snow barefoot – oh wait, I’m channeling my dad!).  I am acutely conscious of the disproportion because it’s a source of frequent inconvenience:  the office chair which can’t be appropriately adjusted, chairs with short backs that provide little or no support, carseats with no height adjustment leaving my face about 4 inches from the windshield.  Little things that are annoyances, not because I am a freak of nature but because mass production necessarily requires a standard model from which to build, and my body doesn’t conform to this standard.

One of the issues with the camera is finding the right angle from which to shoot.  Many of us have the inclination to shoot at eye level, which is the angle from which the above photo was taken.  The additional problem too is that not only was the shot taken from eye level but the camera was tilted rather downwards.  The outcome here is apparent: exaggerates proportions, so that the head looks ginormous and the body looks freakishly small.  The reality is, I have quite a small head (it’s difficult, for example, to find a hat that is not too large), and am lean through the upper body.  When I take the shot from a lower angle on a level surface – say, placing the camera atop the seat of a standard-height stool, as I have frequently done – my proportions don’t look quite so freaky.  As an example:

Though this has the opposite effect, from being taken below the mid-body height, it actually represents my proportions with rather more accuracy.

In the end, though, it’s the mind that makes all the matter.  The perception of oneself, whether of the image in a mirror, looking at a photo, or extracted from a memory, ends up being the most important thing of all.   For example, I tend to remember myself as young and lithe and cute, and have occasionally been surprised to see myself as otherwise when I by chance catch a glimpse of myself reflected back.



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