Johanna, 46

Everyone around me knows that I’m a humor person. I especially like self-irony. In photographs I’m always fooling around, sticking out my tongue or something. It’s a way to take the attention off my looks. If you’re being silly in the photo, you’re kind of not really visible in it.

I always try to look like I haven’t thought about my looks at all. The truth is the opposite: every detail is carefully considered, and I may spend over an hour getting ready. So my attitude to my appearance is everything but relaxed. In fact, I’m never quite happy with it, especially with photos of myself.

Focusing on the appearance has long defined my life in a negative way. I feel like I observe almost everything through it.

It all started when I got bullied in school. It was mostly about being left out. It would happen, for example, that even though I had been hanging out with someone for several weeks, I wasn’t invited to their house party. That made me think that my nose was too big or my thighs were too thick.

When I was a child, there was no culture of complementing other people’s looks, at least not in Satakunta. It would have sounded absurd if mom would have called me beautiful. But I haven’t said that enough to my own daughters, either. I have two girls. That’s actually a reason why I want to do something about this. I’ve started to notice stuff in my children that comes from how I see myself: a similar critical attitude. That takes me aback. I mean, I don’t mind so much if I suffer, but I don’t want my own children to.

I have been with the same man since 1990. He accepts me the way I am, but I don’t always feel like it’s true. It’s particularly hard when I’m wearing little clothing. That’s when I think that he just can’t possibly be happy with me.

It was really difficult to see the photo that Outi took. I don’t look at all like myself because I’m so serious. And I don’t think I look beautiful in it, either. But I have been looking at the photo many times, and it gets easier every time: like it’s wearing out and changing. Now I see a woman who’s as beautiful as anyone else, but who is in pain.