Friday, May 02, 2014


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at the age of 13 i suddenly became very unhappy with my looks (what an unusual story... i can just see you shifting to the edge of your seat in anticipation...). right there and then i decided i was too fat, too short, too long-nosed, too heavy-bosomed, too wide-thighed, too curly-haired and too generally bloody wrong. this impression persisted all the way through my teens and my twenties, despite (or possibly aided by) the hours and energy i spent trying to change and/or forget this regrettable state of affairs. Nor did I get much help from that most infamous threesome of devils (diet, fashion, and booze).

 then, on the cusp of my fourth decade, I became a mother. And for a few years, I did not have any time, energy or inclination to look at myself in the mirror, let alone consider what I saw there. And so it was not until sometime later in my thirties that my attention was drawn to a most remarkable transformation (one which had apparently been occurring quietly and steadily while I wasn't looking). One day, I happened to glance in a mirror on my way out of the door, and was shocked to catch sight of a strikingly beautiful woman (I know this is all sounding very Andersenian swan-ducky now, and yet another original episode to this fascinating tale, but bear with me, the ending is not so happy as in Andersen). There she was, in my mirror, this slim, fine-legged, round-hipped, beautifully-bosomed, cheeky-nosed, gorgeously curly-haired nymph. And she was smiling. This discovery of my own beauty (a combination I suspect of maturation, loss of baby-fat, a growing sense of compassion and declining eye-sight on the part of the observer) (i.e. me) left me breathless with delight. Followed a few years in which I could simply not get enough of mirrors (and self-portraits) (and portraits by adoring men) (or professional photographers) (or anybody really), of trying on new clothes, and writing secret odes to my feet (really pretty feet) and perfectly-shaped ears. Blah blah blah. Seriously, it was REALLY NICE....

 and it lasted for a while. Until one day... (oh those original paragraph introductions... can you tell i'm a writing instructor). Until one day, the next wave of major life transformation hit (affair, blah blah, divorce, blah blah, pregnancy, blah blah, self-employment, blah blah, too many kids, blah blah, too little sleep, blah blah, teeth falling out, blah blah, hair falling out, blah blah, and... more blah blah), and in the aftermath i once again had neither time nor strength to lift my eyes towards any mirror. Besides, I already knew I was beautiful. Right? so things went on, as they do, fast-forward, fast-forward, all the way to this week: I went to the hairdresser. For the first time in years. And the thing about the hairdresser is that, no matter what else happens there, you are going to have to sit for an hour (or more) in front of a huge (GIGANTIC) mirror filled completely with you (and the busy hairdresser). So I did that, and came out in tears. In the hairdresser's chair in front of me, sat a greyish older woman, with a distinctly lined face set in a mask of permanent dissatisfaction, flabby skin hanging off in various places, deep dark blue rings under her spark-less eyes, a face sharp like the beak of a crow, and very VERY little hair. The new me.

And i know i'm supposed to think that this is silly, because beauty is how you feel, not how you look, blah blah, and ageing is a beautiful thing, blah blah, and probably most of it is just me being tired, blah blah, and oh my god there are actual real problems out there in the big big world, and even in my tiny tiny world, that should instantaneously bring this so-called tragedy to its real (and ant-like) proportions, but... ... but i don't care that it's petty and small-minded, or that it lacks perspective. I don't care that nobody cares about this but me. I am weeping for youth and beauty lost, I am weeping for missing like crazy the beautiful nymph who used to live in my mirror, and I am stabbed with envy every single time I look, with a green-yellow heart, at the ever more stunning nymph growing out right from under my (newly flabby) chin.

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1 comment:

Klapoems said...

You are beautiful to me - your beauty pours out of you every time you connect with something around you. That's why mirrors are deceptive - they can't reflect the beauty of relationship, the way you smile when you see somebody special, the dance of your day, your hands in the earth, your songs, and the tenderness you give the world. :-)