• Lindsey Max

Distorted Self-Image

Last week, I discussed the The Power of the Selfie . Those were not hollow words: I have personally used selfies to battle self-hatred and lack of confidence.

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I am someone who constantly compares myself to others. In this era of social media, of being inundated with images of supposed perfection, it is hard not to. I view life in extremes, in blacks and whites with little-to-no grays. I instinctively lean toward the negative. My awareness of this tendency causes me to constantly question how much my perspective is negatively distorted, and how much, if any, holds truth.

Whenever I go to museums, or galleries, or art fairs, I compare my work to those being exhibited. For some artists, such opportunities can be sources of inspiration or education. For me, they serve to highlight everything wrong with my work, becoming evidence of my failure and justification for my self-hatred: “I am not a real artist.” “These are real artists.” “This is what real art looks like.”

In Distorted Self Image, I use my reflection in the works of more established artists in order to explore the varying degrees to which my sense of self becomes distorted when I compare myself to others. These reflections are often literally warped (though some more so than others). In certain images I am hardly recognizable, while some come closer to “reality.” In several photos, I am looking directly at my reflection; I am looking at myself. In most, however, I am looking at the image in my camera; I am looking at how I will be seen by others.

Regardless of where these photographs fall on this spectrum, they are all honest reflections. While in the literal sense my pictures do not show my pure, unfiltered appearance as seen by those around me, they show the appearance that I see reflected in these works of art, an appearance specifically created by the perspective from which I look at my reflection. As such, my photographs are true representations of my self-image while simultaneously commenting on how distorted this self-image can be. This series follows my journey from self-hatred, to complete distortion, through the struggle to finally reach a place of self-love.

It teaches me how even the slightest change in perspective can drastically alter the way I see myself.