June 9th, 2015

Being the vain creature that I am, I like best the photos in which I look lovely.  It makes perfect sense.  If I feel as though I look good, I might actually feel good.  Why is self-esteem such a strange beast for so many?  From our earliest days we are bombarded with images and ideas of what is pleasing and acceptable, and God help us if we don’t measure up to whatever standards are presented.  All that aside, it’s always been somewhat interesting, the disparity between how people see themselves and how others may see them.  This could hold true for more than just face value.  Ha ha.  Face value.  I slay myself sometimes.  What I mean to say is that the view  we have of ourselves, be it our emotional element, our mental element, our spiritual element, or our physical element, may vary widely from the view others hold as they perceive us.

Recently my mother expressed interest in updating her profile photo on Facebook.  She imagined that she must look so much better now than she did last year, as she’s lost quite a lot of weight since then.  Last year my sisters and I ditched our families and responsibilities for a weekend and descended upon our mom’s lair to celebrate her birthday.  We had a wonderful grown up girls time together, and even subjected our poor mother to endure a photo shoot in which we, the artists, applied makeup, arranged hair, advised wardrobe and took photos.  It was a time to treasure, in so many ways.  It was the first time we’ve  had a photo taken together.  Ever.  We were being girly.  My mother is NOT girly.  We would giggle when we’d notice her peeking at her reflection when she passed a window or a mirror.  She would scoff and grumble, but secretly we could tell that she was tickled by what she saw.  We all looked so beautiful, and not one of us under the age of forty.

glamour girls

I always see my sisters as beautiful, regardless of makeup, hairdo, or wardrobe.  They are eternal to me, locked in my heart as silken beauties with intelligence and abilities that span the cosmos.  We are KIM GIRLS!!  But I know with certainty that they don’t see themselves as the radiant beauties and paragons of humanity that I see.  I wish they did, because THEY ARE!!!

This year, while visiting my mother, I took a quick photo and showed it to her.  She was dismayed, to say the least.  The face she saw in the photo clearly did not match the visage she imagined.  I love the photo, though.  I love it because it’s a facet of our reality.  In this photo, I see, almost for the first time, our resemblance.  For most of my life, much of this resemblance has been masked by the prominence of my Korean heritage, but in this photo, it is very clear that we are cut from the same cloth.  This is a reflection of our everyday selves.  Unpolished.  Untamed.  These are the faces of a mother and daughter, 25 years apart in age.  She is 75 and I am 50.

peas in a pod

We both look dramatically different from the earlier photo.  We’ve gone from Vanity Fair to Mother Earth News.  Regardless of what I actually look like, I still prefer to imagine myself in a similar light as I see my sisters — timeless exquisite beauties.  And so it is, that I continue to wear the emperor’s new clothes.  But I’m not so vain that I won’t share a picture like this, that is more likely a representation of reality than any of the other pictures I share.  I can look at a picture like this and see a different kind of beauty.  I can see that I am my mother’s child.  She is, and always has been, beautiful to me.  A glamour girl like her own (and only) sister?  No.  A winner of any sort of popularity contest?  No.  An old hag in her own estimation.  But to me?  She is and always has been indomitable.  A pioneer spirit who can make something from almost nothing.  A tenacious survivor.  These are all beautiful traits that I am happy to inherit, should Providence be so inclined.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 at 2:24 PM and is filed under ego, family, me, mental health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “the emperor’s new clothes”

mary Says:

I love this post so very much

Aunty Evil Says:

You are right about your sisters’ beauty. They are gorgeous. And so are you.

But your mum! How could you not want to kiss that lovely face?

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