What You Look Like
2011/3

I guess as soon as you become a teenager, you start looking in the
mirror wondering what you look like, whether you are good looking, or
not so good looking.  And as far as I can tell, you continue doing
this for the rest of your life, possibly never finding a real answer.
In fact, probably the only way to walk away with an answer, is to wait
until your mind runs across an answer you like, and then walk away at
that moment.  If you stare too long at yourself, I mean for a really
long long time, you're not even sure what you see at all.  You realize
how strange arms and legs really are the way they flail about, and
heads and faces filled with holes to breath through and eat, not to
mention the tentacle that springs from your mouth with taste buds that
need to rub on things to sense them, and you begin to realize just how
weird creatures on Planet Earth really are.  Yet somehow ever since
they invented photons that could bounce, we creatures crawl around the
land seeking out reflections to see ourselves and decide whether we
look "good" or not.

Problem with mirrors is that despite how hard you try, you can never
see around yourself, you're always just as fast, looking straight in
your face.  Kinda like when you're driving a car, trying to look past
your passenger for traffic while they're trying to look past you the
other way.  But then there's photos where we can study ourselves in
any position.  We think of them as trustworthy sources of what we look
like.  Unfortunately it becomes a little depressing when you only
like about 1 out of 20 photos of yourself.  When you lay out the 19
photos you don't like, you can get the impression that this is how
people really see you.  But how true is this?

Take for example a model on the cover of a magazine.  She may be a
professional, who has spent her entire adult life trying to look as
beautiful as possible.  Dieting for years while others eat, exercising
instead of going out with friends, constantly applying all kinds of
techniques and spending lots of money to look good.  Then take that
professional and hire experts to spend hours applying makeup for her,
because although she has spent her entire adult life each morning
fixing herself up, she's STILL not good enough to apply her own makeup
for a photo!  Then find the best high priced photographer, because
slightly above average professional photographers are not good enough.
Then that legendary photographer must shoot hundreds of photos, and
out of all those photos, one shot is chosen for a magazine cover.  As
soon as the magazine hits the shelves, people will look at the photo
and find faults with how the model looks!!!  People find the need to
digitally "fix" the model.

Since we see good looking people all the time, including our friends
and family, there must be more to it than what photos and the mirror
can show us.

I remember watching a bad science fiction movie one day, where these
space rangers were out fighting an enemy.  They used two way video to
communicate with home base, which I think was a computer that appeared
to them as a beautiful woman.  The video was slow, so it could only
show a few frames of video per second.  But each frame of the woman
looked as if she'd posed, and she looked good in every frame.

I've played with slow video before, and I know it was impossible to
look that good with such crude video.  Instead of getting good looking
poses all the time, you'd frequently get caught trying to pronounce
words.  I realized that when we talk, we obviously need to make all
kinds of funny facial expressions in order to get the words out.

That's when I realized that when people talk, most of the time they
look really silly.  But this isn't what we normally see.  We ignore
it.  We actually notice the overall flow of motion, and wait for a
pose.

Unless you do something unusual like accidentally spit or bite your
tongue, the listener will ignore all the weird facial contortions you
need to make while speaking.  But bad video, and photos, catch all
these weird movements, that everyone else is ignoring!

I think this is a glimpse into how people really see each other.
There's a lot more going on in the mind, than just what is physically
there to see.  If you were just looking at the average Earth human,
you'd see a very strange looking creature.  What you really look like
to your friends and family, really does come from further inside than
what you see in a mirror or photo.  I think the fact is, your friends
and family see you more like the one photo you like, than the 19
photos you don't like, because you recognize how you feel and how you
express yourself.

That's not to say that dressing nice, cleanliness, physical fitness,
styles, do not matter.  They obviously matter.

But this whole concept of exact surface beauty has got to be an
illusion or invention no more valid than standing in front of a mirror
all day.  You stare at your nose all day thinking it needs to be
changed, when no one has possibly ever seen your nose... they are
looking further down at your motions and expressions which come from
inside.  Does an orchestra ever look at the conductor's baton, or do
they only see how it moves, what it expresses.

If this is true, it's interesting to wonder if we all suddenly changed
shape, to perhaps that of the octopus, whether we'd still basically
see each other the same way.  I think we would, which is kinda cool.
And we'd all look at ourselves in the reflections off the waters
wondering if our beaks look OK.  There'd be octopus photographers with
a camera in each arm taking photos of octopuses that have spent their
entire lives starving themselves and getting their tentacle's air
brushed, and there'd be a different octopus on every magazine cover at
the under water grocery store, and would we really look all that much
different than we do today?