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.