A few years ago I saw a dramatic instance of such skewed self-perception in one of our therapy groups. We were going around the room talking about body images, and when we got to one woman, she said, “Well, I see myself as fat and pimply.” At that, the group broke into laughter, because she was about 5’8″ and slender as a model, with beautiful, long hair and clear skin. What had happened was that in adolescence she had been fat and pimply. People had let her know how unattractive she was-probably with great cruelty. This internal picture of herself did not change when she changed. Hadn’t anyone been telling her in the meantime that she was beautiful and slender? I’m fairly certain they had. But her filter had successfully screened those compliments out.
Alan Loy McGinnis. Confidence: How to Succeed at Being Yourself (p. 25). Kindle Edition.