I probably spend far too much playing around with the silly filters on social media – mostly as we send updates to each other to put a smile on each others faces.
What I find interesting is to see how much fun I can have to produce the more unusual poses rather than just the stereotypical straight to camera glares. It appeals to me on an aesthetic level, and can be a fun way of practicing for the cosplay photos.
While that may seem of limited use – it a) is something that makes me happy and b) means I have more confidence when more official photos are taken. I recently had a shot taken at a work event to go on an ID card, and was able to pose enough within the limits that I actually appear to be full of life rather than sapped of the will to live.
Being able to have confidence in my own appearance is a relatively new development. My weight gains due to disordered eating while depressed were huge – at one point I weighed over twenty-one stone (135kg) which played no small part in my developing type two diabetes. I came to loathe images of me, especially when I compared them to the slim and athletic appearance I had when I was younger.
It has only really been the last couple of years since I’ve started cosplaying that I’ve begun to be comfortable with having my photo taken. Dressing up and putting myself in the hands of photographers keen to help me make the best images has both boosted my confidence and given me practical guidance in how to hold myself in healthier and more flattering ways – and to stop caring about looking silly along the way.
Discarding the voice that cares and frets about not looking ridiculous has been a freeing experience and helped me feel more comfortable in my own skin. It has helped me in my own journeys to know myself, and it has helped reduce my retention of stress.
And that’s why I love playing the Fool for selfies. I can let go, laugh at myself and with others. I can welcome the silliness and feel both childlike and more adult in my appreciation of using my body with at least a little less shame.
I think one of the great skills I’ve learned through attending conventions and dressing up in silly costumes has been to leverage my customer service skills and old stagecraft from performances at school to strike poses and appear confident in public in those costumes. This in turn has bolstered my confidence at work with knowing I can wear sometimes ridiculous outfits and have people admire them.
What it doesn’t do, and I still have great difficulty with, is managing the socialising side of things. In large part I think this comes from imposter syndrome and that dreadful temptation to take people’s social media representation at face value. I’m dreadful at remembering names or being confident in having conversations at times. If I let it, this fosters huge feelings of isolation as I see other people interacting and making plans.
But then I remember that I have a great number of people who I quietly just know and get on with enjoying things with. They’re not the showiest, they’re actually capable of deeper connection and empathy, and who always have time for me.
It’s just a measure of my own baggage that I don’t feel I deserve it, or that people are just tolerating me. Adult brain knows it is false, and also celebrates not embracing shallow showiness, but it is still a head siren call to resist.
Lady M reminds me that the quiet strength and conviction, and no small measure of stubbornness are signs of the strength that she admires. In other ways, so too does lady s. The chorus is strengthened by my counsellor, and by coworkers who prize my ability to tell and sell people unpopular news without flinching, and not alienate them in the process.
I wouldn’t wish the twists and turns of my path here on anyone, and I’m proud of who I am, even if the black dog disagrees. My hobbies, upbringing, lifestyle, and hard work have tempered my confidence and presence. If that inspires or gives strength to other people that’s a grand thing too – whether that’s in cosplaying, work, or the quiet of their lives.