Seriously, now: How often have you caught your reflection in a mirror and thought – “Oh, yeah. I look GOOD.”
You don’t have to answer; I already know. The answer is NEVER.
And I’m not talking about you looking at a photo of you from twenty years ago and saying “What was I so worried about? I looked fine.” Because twenty years ago, you were STILL walking past your reflection and wincing.
We do it to ourselves… but also, there’s a huge industry, like a vast, invisible machine with cogs and gears and belts and dials humming all around us unseen, designed to keep us feeling like we JUST DON’T LOOK LIKE WE SHOULD. I know perfectly beautiful women who have injected botulism into their faces or who have been “cool sculpted.” A lady I know – renowned for her classic looks – has begun doing that thing where you pull back the skin at your temples, stare at someone, and say “Don’t you think I should have my eyes done?”
And what I’m wondering is – if we’ve spent our lives feeling like we’re not attractive enough, or not as attractive as we COULD be… then will it actually make a difference if we have our eyes done?
I’m thinking – the problem isn’t in the reflection. It’s in the mind.
I’m very fortunate. By the grace of whatever benevolent God is looking out for me, I’m now 60. People die, you know; we’ve all seen it. The fact that we’re still here, wasting time on blogs, is proof that we’ve been more fortunate than a lot of people.
And on the surface, this is how I think about being sixty:
For the first fifty years of my life, I knew (I KNEW) I didn’t look like I was supposed to. Far too fat. If I was thinner, I would have actually lived the life I was supposed to have. I was burdened as much by my guilt as by my hips. Then in my fifties, I looked in the mirror and thought – wait. This is how women in their 50s are SUPPOSED to look. I had reached… The Thickening. Only for me, it was just life as usual. So – there’s relief there. I got to lay down a lot of guilt. That felt pretty good.
And now that I’m 60, I look in the mirror and I see all fingers and toes still attached. I see an unbent spine. I see graying hair, but damn – I earned those grays, and no one is going to take them from me! I begin to think… you know, for sixty? I look pretty good!
But further down, below the part of me that worries about my appearance, I’m reflecting in a different way. I’m thinking that I probably always looked pretty good. Influenced by societal norms and a vicious beauty industry, I’d sabotaged myself. And maybe I should take deliberate steps to counter that.
Like what, you ask?
How about post a photo on Facebook of what I look like when I wake up in the morning? (Okay – I brushed my hair and straightened my collar.) How about saying not just to myself but to anyone listening that we’re all looking pretty good.
We’re here. We’re strong. We’ve been burnished in the forge of life and we’re beginning to gleam as a result. Yes, I could wish for a leaner silhouette – but now weighing less is a goal because I’m tired of not being able to get off the floor without going butt-first.
You know the move. You’re sitting like a groovy hippie on the floor – see how young I am? Time to get up. Groan. (1) Hands and knees. (2) Straighten the knees until the butt is in the air. (3) Walk the feet under and then push off with your hands. (4) Straighten up using your back. (5) Groan and bitch.
But people who are smaller do this: (1) Kneel upright. (2) Put one foot out; now you’re in the classic “Will you marry me” pose. (3) Use the glutes to straighten the leg on the floor. (4) Wonder why the pudge next to you looks like a giraffe going down for a drink – a giraffe that’s groaning and bitching.
So yeah. I’d like to lose a few pounds in the new year, but only because my nascent glute control deserves a little support (or lack thereof) from this powerful, capable body that’s been successfully and diligently carting my brain around for six remarkable decades. Time for a little self-appreciation, I’m thinking, instead of self-sabotage.
I’m not going to wince at my reflection any more. See? Pretty good for sixty!