In recent times, I've changed my appearance in fairly major ways twice - once going from glasses to contact lenses (last July) and once going from my normal reddish-auburn-y hair to black (last week). Each time, it's been quite shocking to see myself immediately and then I've been alternately pleased and perturbed as I adjusted my mental image of myself to match the current outside state. Each time as well, some of those near and dear to me have, at least to some degree, reacted negatively. It could be as simple as "Well, I liked you with red hair..." to "Your face looks hollow without glasses".
These responses, as one might imagine, cause unpleasant feelings on my part.
And then there are the acquaintance reactions of, "Ack! You did what to your hair before my photo shoot?! I don't even recognize you anymore..." (This last was said jokingly, but to some extent, sincerely.) Again with the unpleasant feelings, both towards the commenter and about my appearance.
However, among the near-and-dear people, each time there has also been exactly one "Go, you!" response to each change. This has bolstered my spirits mightily each time (and caused feelings of deep affection to blossom further for said people). And the same with a minority of acquaintance-like folk: "You don't have glasses any more! You look fantastic!" and "Your hair looks really cute!" Again with the spirit bolstering.
But the moral is the same each time: It's a damned good thing I am reasonably happy with the change since most reactions to it are some version of, "Ack!"
So, to the nay-sayers, I say, "Thbbbbbbbbbbt!" And then I go nurture my self-image.