The nicest thing about this technique is that there really is no technique, you can make things up as you go along according to how it feels and what you want to experiment with or accomplish. I’ll just try to give some suggestions according to my experience and experiments because I’ve been doing this for a long time!
To change the way you see yourself, you have to learn to see yourself differently than you usually do, so you have to start by looking at yourself alot. A moment in the mirror is too fleeting, so, pretend you are a much sought-after celebrity, and,
TAKE PICTURES OF YOU!!!
My first suggestion, for working on your body image using self-portraiture is to take lots and lots and lots of pictures of yourself… in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, under the moon, even sleeping! Happy, sad, pissed-off, dressed-up, dressed-down, completely undressed… every which way you can. There are no right or wrong poses – just go with the flow of how you feel that day, and try to have zero expectations about the results. If you prefer to do this alone rather than being looked at by someone else behind a camera, simply use the timer on a digital camera and go nuts! Just this being alone with yourself and letting yourself “be seen” is a beneficial process, but the pictures can help you go further along the path. Store them on a memory card, or if your prefer, in a hidden file on your computer, and when you can, even if it’s not immediately, LOOK at them. If you react badly, let some time go by and look again, and again, and again. And in the meantime, take more pictures… just take them and preserve them, there’s no need to delete the “bad” ones because they’re all just YOU! Observe your reactions when you see the pictures afterwards… they may surprise you, and they will probably change over time. And, you probably won’ t mind having your picture taken anymore when others pull out a camera in a public situation because you’re in training for accepting yourself from all angles, all aspects, all ways and always – not just at your “best”.
DRAWING MAKES IT EVEN BETTER…
Choose a an image you love, and one you hate, print them out in black and white, and use these to start drawing. The drawing process is the most important part – the quiet time you spend with yourself, with your image, tracing, copying or reproducing every line of your face and body. You cannot know how this feels until you try it, it’s a practice, a process, not a one-time-event. You’ll get much more out of it if you stick with it over time rather than if you just try it once and quit on a judgement – although judgements will come up, working on it over time helps them to change and dissolve into acceptance.
Suggestions of what to do with the photos you take, once you’ve taken them:
1) Find an image that you feel really shows you at your best and frame it and keep it somewhere in your home.
2) Trace this image repeatedly, colouring it in differently according to how you feel each time.
3) Print out a photograph that really disturbs you, that shows a side of you or an aspect of your face or body that you dislike. Sit with it, reproducing it slowly, gently, until you start to see something other than your initial negative reaction.
If it feels right, write about the process and your changing perceptions or share it with a friend or with lots of friends via this site at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also write to us here, we’ll answer your questions about the process to support your practice in any way we can!