On the whole, I am not a confident man, especially about my looks or my body. This is slowly getting worse as I get older, and I move further away from an optimum version of my self-image that I never quite achieved, and is now beyond my reach for good. The background of that is typical, tedious, and not worth getting into, but the overall effect is that I generally hate seeing pictures of myself, as they tend to reinforce what I already think. I’m still curious to see them, though, because from time to time they turn out alright, and I get a glimpse of a version of myself that I don’t loathe quite so much. Once in a while, a bit of external perspective makes me think there may be some promise left after all.
Last month, I had a chance to meet up with a photographer/artist/restaurateur named Martin, or Male®, as he goes by on the internet, while he was in London. Martin had contributed some great photos to Pink Mince a while back. We’d never met in person before, and he wanted to photograph my tattoos. We got on well enough, so strolled around a bit one afternoon and caught a show at the Barbican the next day, during which he’d occasionally stop me for a few portraits. (If you know me well enough, you can identify the expression I make when I’m self-conscious but trying to look calm, cool, and collected regardless.)
It’s been startling to see the results as they’ve trickled onto his blog since then. While I still cringe a little at the site of myself, I don’t actually dislike the composite portrait that is built up throughout the set. A little older, scrawnier, greyer than I’d care to see, but there’s character there, and I tend to forget about that. It helps that Martin’s skilled with a camera, and has chosen moments well. But that considered view from someone else who is seeing me with fewer preconceptions is refreshing. Maybe I’m not such a wreck after all?
Ask me again when I’m tired or particularly frustrated and I may change my thoughts altogether, but at the moment I’ll cling to a bit of good vibes. I spend so much time in my own head, where the outlook is often rather bleak, that it’s a pleasant change of pace to look in from the outside. Thanks for the brief taste of self-esteem, Martin!
4 thoughts on “Portraits of an aging blogger”
I hate to say it, but I really don’t care what you look like. You’re a wonderful, kind, sweet and patient man who gives his time and creative force freely and generously. That’s beautiful!
Thanks, Howard. As ever, that’s really spectacularly nice of you. And honestly, that’s a much better compliment.
I think what you’ve been honest enough to post about here is what a lot of us experience, perhaps especially in gay culture. I don’t think that it’s necessarily that, as the cliche would have us believe, we appreciate aesthetics more so, but perhaps because we can be a culture of exclusion, so what doesn’t fit a narrow definition of something can be made to feel “other” in a negative way. For what it’s worth, and I know that this is not why you posted the above, you are a sexy man, and more of us have to come to realize that physical attractiveness can truly come from more than one place.
I’m with Howard. And trust me, you are not a wreck!
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