The older I get, the less often I look in the mirror, and the more often I shrink away from cameras.

Just now I was trying to get a picture of the dogs and hit a button that flipped the view around. From cute little pup to--bam--doughy-faced, double chinned me.

The loathing I felt when I saw that image took me by surprise. I've clearly done a good job hiding from myself because that sight really was a shock. God, she's hideous. I looked at myself and saw all the fat blobby ladies I felt scorn for through all those early, more attractive years of my life. God. I'm not talking about a mild hmm that feature can change or maybe less of a chin. It was the entire thing, details and big picture, that I loathed.

It was rather amazing how much I disliked that image. This isn't going to work, I thought. I can't walk around feeling that much disdain for me.

Anyone else, sure--as in, someone else can feel that way about me. Or I can feel that way about someone else, although, of course I wouldn't, not anymore. Thank god I outgrew that kind of insta-judgement. I had to, amirite?  Or I'd kill myself, no lie, or never leave the house again. 

Okay, this has to stop, and I spent ten minutes staring at that image. trying different angles. Holding the phone up, holding it down. Staring, staring, looking for something worth admiring. I guess the smile's nice. After a while, all that staring allowed me to shift from both admiring or loathing. The image just.....was. That's what I want to aim for, some kind of acceptance

It's me. That's the package of meat that I'm stuck with. I'm not going to manage to the self affirmations but at the same time there is no point in indulging in loathing. I'm going to memorize the features again. I'm going to remember that it could be worse. The trick of remembering how unfortunate other people are (He has no nose!) always works on me.**

And then I'm going to go back to avoiding mirrors and cameras

And no, this isn't  me begging for someone to tell me I'm beautiful, because I wouldn't believe anyone who did. I have eyes. Judgey, critical eyes that won't be lied to.

Besides, after all these years, my brain can and will provide the feminist talk about internal beauty, and I can give myself the Stop Buying The Dumb Standards talk, I can remind myself that appearances are not important. That I'll be dead in ___ years anyway.... I can do all sorts of conversations to put this selfie moment into some kind of perspective. But really.

Even after the ten minutes of truth time, my eyes just roll. Even after I deliver the Get Over Yourself stern talk to myself, there's still a corner, somewhere in my vain brain saying whoa, that's not me.

** and I'm sure someone with no jaw would sleep better knowing they've helped insecure middle aged ladies adjust to their changing appearance.  

This isn't really a poor me thing. Really it is not. I'm healthy, I'm fine and I know I'm blessed. It's odd to change and sort of melt into someone else, but I was expecting aging (duh). 

My own knee-jerk and strong disgust was the surprise. I'm from a family that did not emphasize appearances so I always supposed I'd bypass this kind of response. Turns out, no, not entirely possible--for me anyway.  It's hardly the source of horror it would be for someone who'd been truly beautiful and counted on it for work or self-definition. (Kim Novak or Lea de Lonval) I suspect other people--female, male--have felt this way. I figured it's nice to share the WTF.

Another stage of life, rather like when we women suddenly become invisible. It's a strange experience at first but we adjust.


  1. You are so much more than your face, but to attempt another perspective: that doughy, double-chinned face is your sons' favorite face in the world, no matter how old they are. If they're sick or in trouble, no sight on the planet is going to be more welcome or produce such a wave of relief and comfort as yours--yes, wrinkles, eye-bags and all. Does that help?

    1. Thanks. It's a sweet thought. But really, this is about how I have to make peace with the changing face. What other people see makes some difference to my opinion, but not as much as it used to (which is a really good thing in a lot of ways).

    2. and really, yeah, thanks. It's a reminder of what is important.

      Of course having a short attention span helps--I've put down the li'l device and am off plotting a book, or will be any second now.

  2. Yes, I know exactly what you mean - I see me and I'm horrified. But - and this is a hard-won truth - while the camera doesn't lie, it also doesn't capture what I think is actually what makes me attractive (to a small sub-section of humanity, anyway) which is my energy and engagement. I know that when I meet new people they're going to look at me and see 52-year old 14-stone past-it blob. But I also know that if I get to talk to them, they'll get that I'm also funny and interested in them and lively. And they'd say, yes, she's attractive. From reading your books, I reckon the same's true of you. Basically, it's throw away the phone, Kate, and grab yourself a video camera.

    1. eh, ten minutes of obsession. it could be a lot worse. . Imagine what it would have been like for someone who'd had a career based on looks.

  3. Replies
    1. hey, dooder, I'm fine, not as cute as you but fine.

      This isn't not something that keeps me awake all night (thank god) but it's also a big surprise to me that I would be that taken aback by my own changing appearance. If I'm that WTF about it then other ladies of a certain age must be too. So that's why I wrote it--because I'm always up for the shared horror. And this isn't one I'd expected.

  4. I've got a lot of that age transition going on, too. Something I've learned may help. Some photos are just "rippers", regardless of the age and attractiveness and doughiness and whateverness of the person in the photo. It has always been thus. I look a helluva lot better in the mirror and IRL than in ripper photos. Ripper photos are not accurate. They're literally like funhouse mirrors! So I spot a photo like that -- the unexpected selfie is always the worst (except for this one time my sister, my mom, and I all tried to take the worst possible photos of ourselves we could and I totally rocked it) and I realize it's the angle, not me :).

    That being said, my tap instructor is always fussing at me to look at the "audience" in class, but the "audience" is my reflection in the mirror, and when I do that, I forget what little grasp I have of right from left. After 4+ years, I have NO idea what I look like when I'm tapping.

  5. Kate, there's more disappointment to come if you think, as I did, that there was still some of that 20 year old on the outside. All it takes is a look at my hands...scarred and wrinkled like that shirt that was balled up in the back of the closet that you've just found after years.... We have to get older. If we don't, the alternative is pretty ugly indeed. We don't have to like it, but we have to do it. Love grows because everybody else we know is growing old, too. Hugs always

    1. A few minutes, every couple of years of WTF WHO THE HELL IS THAT??? We can handle it. Hugs to you too.

  6. There is definitely some coming to terms with aging faces. I think it's more about not feeling like that person in the mirror. Usually my thoughts are "When did I become the adult here???" It's because our hearts are young and still filled with piss and vinegar.

    1. I was taken aback by my unpleasant response to that poor old lady than I was by the actual poor old lady appearance. It's hard to take someone who looks like that seriously...but I better or else!


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