When I was going through yoga teacher training, one of my instructors gave the class a touching glimpse of her insecurities. This teacher was maybe five or ten pounds over her ideal weight. She said that she had been struggling with her weight her whole life and that the sense of being unattractive had colored how she felt about herself as a person. But recently she had been going through old photographs of herself and was struck by how great she looked. And she said she was working on bringing this sense of appreciation to her current self, so that she could have a present-tense enjoyment of where she was now.
I don't remember the precise context of this personal account, but I was struck by how universal the elements of her story are, at least among women. We find fault with our appearance, and our perception of being physically imperfect makes us feel imperfect as people, and even when presented with evidence that we looked/were fine then, we still judge ourselves imperfect now.
I was reminded of that teacher the other day when I was going through old snapshots for a gift I was making for my daughter's birthday. I have always thought of myself as a homely, gawky, mannish woman with freakish hair, prone to anxiety, depression and resentments. But I can see that I was actually quite beautiful—as a young woman. I looked happy and carefree with my adorable children and handsome mate. "Too bad I didn't realize it then," I caught myself thinking as I was going through the old photographs. "Now I'm really homely, gawky, mannish—and practically bald." Enjoying the here and now is hard!