OK, this is embarrassing, but my husband and I play a game called “Am I As Tall As Her?” We’ll be out and about – it could be at Starbucks, at a wedding, an art gallery, anywhere – and I’ll spy a fellow tall woman. As inconspicuously as possible, I’ll wander up beside her, turn around and face Dan, and hike my eyebrows, as if it ask, “Am I as tall as her?” He makes an assessment, taking shoes into accounts, and delivers a full report upon my return.
It’s a silly game born out of my seeming inability to understand what I really look like, and it’s hardly the first plot hatched to help me understand: About six years ago, when I still (rather obnoxiously, I now realize) complained about my body, my friend/then-coworker Debbie used to threaten, “One of these days, I’m going to take a picture of you from behind when you’re not looking and then show it to you. I guarantee you’ll think the girl in the photo has a nice body.”
I also remember somebody once giving me the tip that if you tend to judge your body harshly when looking in the mirror, try standing so your face is cut off or hidden and all you can see is the neck-down. The decapitated image somehow allows you to detach yourself enough to view your body in a less judgmental light.
Well, a new website called My Body Gallery takes advantage of all three theories. Viewers are invited to send in photos of themselves along with their height, weight and sizes; viewers can then plug in their own measurements and scroll through pictures (faces blocked) of other women their height and weight. The theory is that seeing how great other ladies your size look – women who aren’t on the receiving end of the same judgments and contempt as yourself – will help you embrace your own figure.
A writer at bellasugar.com visited My Body Gallery with hopeful anticipation, but still wound up criticizing herself. “I just ended up feeling bad that my waist isn’t smaller and that my thighs are more prominent than my chest. ‘At least with models in magazines,’ I found myself thinking, “I know they’re so Photoshopped that it’s dumb to beat myself up about not being eight feet tall’” and super skinny.
Happily, the site worked like a charm for me. I found it extremely comforting and reassuring to see what other 5’10”, 140-150lb women “really” look like. I saw my body in theirs, flashes of recognition which have grown increasingly common over the last decade as I’ve grown mentally healthier and my bedroom mirror’s reflection has slowly changed from funhouse to real.
Try it out and tell me what you think!
Pregnant/a new mom and wondering how your body compares to others? Check out the fascinatingly addictive The Shape of a Mother.