When I look in the mirror, I see…someone no longer able to call herself a ‘girl’, not really, because her skin is dry and beginning to show signs of wrinkles.
Seeing that skin, harshly lit, in the mirror of a public restroom last week, showing wear and tear from living, and from neglect, prompted me to invest in some shinyfancyspensive product, which I’ve been faithfully applying daily ever since. Because I don’t want my skin to look old and awful; because the shinyfancyspensive product had the word ‘Finnish’ on the label (everyone knows their skin is amazing); because it had ingredients which sounded natural (or at least pronounceable) in the list; and because it wasn’t as expensive as the ones you *know* you’re paying for the name of.
In addition to the wrinkles, zit-scars (WHY do I always pick them?), pores I constantly worry are too large (and then worry I worry too much about them) and a nose I’ve never come to terms with, I see green eyes which were recently described as having “the same sparkle” as WonderAunty’s (a HUGE compliment), dark hair like my mum’s (with a ridiculous pink streak, which will soon be re-naturalised in hopes of appearing more employable) and *checks carefully to see if any were missed* the beginnings of a smattering of pull-them-out-and-pretend-they-weren’t-there silver hairs.
Which I don’t mind. Truly. I don’t mind the thought of aging. I don’t think I mind the process of turning into someone who looks properly adult and has a chance at being taken seriously (pink hair and tattoos aside (or is that my own prejudice?)); who maybe feels as though she might begin to belong in the world inhabited by so many people she adores.
But I look again, then lift my top, turn sideways, and agonise about whether or not there is more fat on the belly than before, whether the arms are ever going to un-wibble, whether the double-chin and the blubbery layer I ate myself into, to hide, for safety, in my childhood and teens, is in any way returning to reclaim me and catapult me back into someone rejectable, unlovable, and downright repulsive. I meet my own, sad, green eyes, and worry about how ugly I am, and how much I don’t look at all like the person I think other people see – like the person I very occasionally feel I might resemble, until I catch my eye, and am damned again by my own reflection.
I look harder, wondering at my bizarre ability to deny truth, which seems to be that my atrocious self-image lies far deeper than my skin, but is not necessarily evident on its surface. I’ve been called beautiful, pretty, attractive…been told I have a smile which lights the room…and still can’t connect those wonderful, very genuinely intended compliments to the view I have of my shell.
There’s no truth in reflection – not the kind which stares us back in the eye from a mirror, presenting us with our undeniable physical flaws, encouraging us to zone in on them, magnifying them in our own minds until they’re insurmountable ghastlies. There’s no truth in the voice which accompanies the reflection (and the ghastlies), pouring poison into our ear and replacing the half-size version of us (no, really, and it’s fascinating) with something monstrously disappointing.
Maybe some people are consistently enamoured with who they see in the mirror, but I’ve yet to meet one who was happy. The people I’ve met who genuinely care more about their presence in the Now than the weight, shape, and appearance of their own unmet expectations in the looking glass, are those who are most at peace.
Now that’s worth reflecting on.
What do you see when you look in the mirror? Are you content? Do you avoid meeting your own gaze? Join in with your reflections…