I am YET ANOTHER person doing a 365-day project. Four weeks in, I am happy to report that I am four weeks in.
Inspired by this post, I decided to undertake 365 days of self portraits.
After nearly a month, I have cycled through every emotional state available, from Avoidance to Zealousness. I have been impressed by my eyes, whose colour ranges from dark amber to jet black depending on the lighting, and annoyed by my skin, which presents as more 14 than 40.
In the end, I’ve identified five major stages or phases experienced while doing to this project, based loosely on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ model. These stages may apply to other 365-day projects but honestly, if you’re feeling “doubt” at your new-word-a-day efforts or “despair” at a year’s worth of food photos, I think you might have cause for abandoning your cause early. I won’t judge.
Herewith, the five stages of self-loathing, with accompanying photos:
1. Enthusiasm: “This is exciting!”; “I am so original!”
Intense in the beginning, enthusiasm is short lived. The novelty of the project is initially enough to sustain interest but is slowly replaced with an appreciation of the commitment and duration involved. An individual who fails to progress past enthusiasm is more likely to suffer from smile-induced facial lines and the gradual loss of friends, online and off.
2. Surprise: “I am kind of pretty!”; “Those lines look permanent.”
The individual who persists in this type of narcissistic endeavour will inevitably experience surprise. This may manifest positively (feelings of attractiveness) or negatively (a growing awareness of one’s flaws). Like enthusiasm, surprise is unsustainable in the long term, unless the long term involves facial reconstruction.
3. Doubt: “I have run out of ideas.”; “Why hasn’t my mother liked this yet?”
The third stage of self-loathing is characterized by doubt — first occasional, then all-consuming. The individual will begin by doubting their own attractiveness, followed by questioning their creative skills, then wondering why no one has told them it’s a stupid idea. It is during this stage that the subject is most like to photograph their hands, feet, elbows, etc.
4. Despair: “I wish I hadn’t read about those Botox horror stories.”; “At least I’m smart.”
Despair is the most enduring and challenging stage. The realization that one’s nose is larger than previously thought, that an offset spatula is the ideal tool for applying concealer, and that photography provides incontrovertible proof of one’s aesthetic shortcomings makes this stage particularly difficult. Subjects will often resort to distraction, such as including “cute” images like kittens and babies in their photographs.
5. Resignation: “Asymmetry is nature’s normal.”; “Only 48 weeks to go.”
The final stage, resignation, is marked by a renewal of commitment to the project. Some individuals describe a growing acceptance of their flaws, describing them as “natural” or “authentic,” while others focus on the end goal and the time remaining to achieve it. Images are less likely to be altered and edited as subjects effectively — sometimes literally — throw in the towel.