Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Mirror, mirror on the...oh, never mind!

I made an odd discovery yesterday: I honestly don't pay much attention to that face in the mirror staring back at me. To me, a mirror is more of a tool than the necessary evil so many women dread. I use it to apply minimal makeup, checking only long enough to ensure my last sneeze didn't leave bars of mascara under my eyes to make it appear my freckles are in jail. Occasionally I might wear a color that makes the green of my eyes more um...eye catching, but I only linger long enough to think, "Hmm, interesting shade today." I glance in the mirror daily to see that flossing did the job or that my hair doesn't look as if Einstein was my beautician. The mirror is sort of like my tooth brush; I use it daily out of necessity, not as an ego booster. Monday something got stuck in my eye, so I leaned closer to inspect. Once the errant eyelash was gone, my brain noted in passing, "Did you see that? There's a wrinkle over there I don't remember seeing before. You?"

Nope. And I haven't got a clue how long it might have been around.

It's not that I'm oblivious to the way I look. It just doesn't top my list of priorities. I've always been this way. I believe that our "insides" are more important than how we wrap ourselves for public presentation. I suspect that my curiosity over what makes people tick has somehow bludgeoned my ego into submission. That's probably why I never even thought about putting my face or age on my blog. I'm not hiding anything. It just never struck me as being important. After I'd been in blog world for a while I realized people in cyberspace have a bad habit of taking a fifteen word profile with photo to decide who you are... before they ever take the time to learn if that preconceived notion is even correct. I bet some don't even finish a paragraph before writing a person off.

What a pity.

I now understand what one of my seniors was telling me a few years ago. Leona was 87 and the spunkiest woman I'd ever met. We were discussing age one day and very perplexed she asked me,"Why do people keep asking me how old I am?" I laughed and replied, "Because you don't act like an old lady." She seemed surprised but admitted, "You know what the problem is? I still feel like I'm 40...and my body didn't get the memo! It got old."

A week later Leona came to me, just grinning. "Someone asked me that question again. So I asked them why they wanted to know. They said exactly what you did, but in a condescending way, as if I was disappointing them." When I asked how she'd handled it, Leona grinned wickedly, "I told them if they'd tell me how the hell an old lady acted I'd do my damnedest to follow through for them."

I sure miss her.

The truth is, I'm just me. And a mirror isn't going to make my life better or worse. In fact, I'm kind of happy I don't have one of those talking, fairy tale mirrors. I'd probably end up with one that nagged me to put down the chocolate and eat a carrot.

I don't need a mirror to verify my existence. I don't need to see where I fall on the prettiness landscape. I know I'm not beautiful but then again, I don't need a flea collar either. Until a mirror can reflect that I'm honest, hard working, reliable, creative and possess a wry sense of humor, it won't change my day. After all, none of those qualities ever helped a gal win Miss America. A mirror can be a reality check but you know what? I'm okay with my reality. When I glance in the mirror and note that grey hairs are beginning to take up residence on my head, I'm not interested in dyeing them. I have baby fine hair and the grey ones are thicker than the rest. I hope they bring friends. I dress appropriately for my age, even if I don't act it...meaning I don't have a clue what my cholesterol level is and I'm not about to volunteer for a colonoscopy. Ever. As for wrinkles, I view them as a time line, sort of like rings in a tree. I don't have many but I'm sure they'll be plenty of stories to go with them.

A mirror can't look into my soul or encourage me to do my best. It won't cry with me, pat me on the back or commiserate that sometimes life just isn't fair. On occasion however, I have caught it laughing at me. That's fine. It just means I'm laughing back.


Poetikat said...

I used to have more of a love affair with the mirror - and wore makeup - and cared what my peers thought. Now I don't. I have those grey hairs too - and you're right, they're really plumping up my coiffure.
I'm with you on the colonoscopy as well - although now they have a kit you can send for (honest!). When I turn 50, I'll probably do that.

I don't look in the glass much any more - except to clean off the spots of toothpaste.

I think I would have liked your "Leona" - she was sharp.


Poetikat said...

I'm thinking over whether or not I should remove my face from the profile! You're shaming me.


hope said...

Don't you dare remove your photo!

Who knows, maybe someone will take a non hideous shot of me at Christmas that I'll find the courage to post. See, I don't fear the mirror but a camera...I'd rather be behind one than in front of one. ;)

Susan said...

I love it! Sometimes I look in the mirror and promise myself I'll polish up the image a bit: I'll get a hairstylist to do my hair instead of letting the kitchen scissors have another go; I'll wear a bit of makeup more often; I'll have someone shape my eyebrows and deep-clean my complexion (if I have one).

Then I think, "Yeah... the COWS will be so impressed!" Who else sees me, out here? LOL So I'll stay with my comfort-clothes and grow plenty of laugh-lines, instead.

Thanks for a great post!

Poetikat said...

Gosh, Susan - the eyebrows! How I detest having to work with them!

Okay, Hope. I'll keep the pic - just for you.


hope said...

See, I knew I kept good company. :)

the broken down barman said...

ust wanted to say thank u very much but im ok. sorry i gave u horrible night, but thanks for the support. was kinda drunk the other night and probably feeling a bit more morbid than usual, cheers

Dave King said...

I was going to say that what you need is a mirror to see into your soul - but you got there ahead of me. I wonder if there is one....

hope said...

Barman: good to hear. There's a reason I chose the name "hope" here. :)

Dave, I'm betting there is one...probably the reflection of what other people see in us. ;)

Rachel Fox said...

With you on the mirror thing. I look in now and again...when I remember or to check I'm not going to shame Small Girl at school... but no regular routine or anything. I quite like to forget what I look like...too busy thinking about other things.

hope said...

Kinda liberating huh, Rachel?

Rachel Fox said...

Yes and there are plenty of women who spend so much time thinking about how they look that I feel some of us have to go the other way just for balance!
I can't speak for the blokes...