I walk up the street and catch a reflection of myself in the window. I look away. The woman in that window is a woman reflected. She has backward thoughts. She cannot look in to her own eyes. The woman reflected is alone in that window.
In mirrors she moves backward, mixing up her right and left hands. She has imperfections. Spots on her chin or an extra roll around her middle. She notes with too much rapidity every wrinkle forming at the corners of her eyes. She catalogues every change, every sag, every pull of gravity and the stretch of every mashed potato. She frowns at the flame-red stretch marks reaching up over her belly from fifteen, ten years ago’s Rapid Baby Expansion. She says she is not good enough because she is no longer twenty. She is fatter. Softer. Older.
She says this as if youth were a panacea. As if smooth skin and a taut belly were measures of a woman’s worth. As if what made a woman important was the way men looked at her, how they wanted her. You can’t blame her for thinking these things. All reflected women know these things to be self-evident. The women they see, the women they hear, from the time they are born, tell them that age is a hateful, fearful thing. That women lose their power once they turn 40. That men won’t want them if they don’t pluck their chin hairs, and that a woman’s desirability is a woman’s worth. This is what reflected women learn. This is who they are.
So I stop looking at her because she is misinformed. Mislead. Misinterpreting. Miss Appropriate.