I had occasion recently to appear as a talking head in a video for a little project my neighbor and I are doing. I dressed carefully and put on make-up. I rehearsed my talking points a few times and, as I was already passionate about the subject matter, felt pretty confident about it. We did just one take; she said I nailed it.
And then I saw and heard me in the rectangular box, and this is what happened in my head: “oh, do I really look like that? why did I choose that top / neckline? my arms look fat! does my tone of voice always sound so harsh? is that how my mouth moves when I talk? I wonder how I look when I eat? ewww! look at me — I am fundamentally flawed and unlovable! I look just like my sister when I do that… no wonder I am single! how could someone watch me talk or eat or merely look at me every day and still want to be around?! it is simply not possible. I am destined to die alone. with ugly gnashing jaws and pursing lips. aaarrgh!”
Attractive? Not so much. Irrational? Decidedly. Unique? Not at all.
I suspect there are very few of us on the planet who actually enjoy watching video of ourselves talking or eating or doing much of anything. Even more than a photograph, video brings out the self-conscious, self-critical voice in all of us. Regardless of how we look or talk or gesture or carry ourselves, our inner critic is the great equalizer. I suspect even Hollywood hotties feel this way. Take Eva Mendez, for instance (because I’m pretty sure she’s one of the sexiest women on the planet): does she like the way she looks when she eats on screen? is her inner critic as obnoxious as mine? or is she just used to it by now? did acting lessons or professional training teach her and other starlets how to look good talking and eating? or have she and these other leading women just learned to silence their inner critics or not watch?
I’ve been a part of bigger shoots in what now seems like a previous lifetime. There was professional lighting, film shot from the most flattering angle (and it is so much softer and more forgiving than video), air-brush applied make-up and super-hold hairspray, a stylist to drape my wardrobe just right… And, oddly enough, after all that external manipulation, I felt perfectly at ease and natural!
But right now, there is an unflattering video of my talking head out there on the web. I’ll have to live with it, because it’s part of a larger scheme representing positive forward movement in my life. Let’s just hope I can afford the full crew next time…or get used to myself!