Miss Appropriate Or, Why I Stopped Looking In Mirrors

Diane Groves' "Fishwishers" image used royalty-free from freeimages.com
Diane Groves’ “Fishwishers” image used royalty-free from freeimages.com
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.

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

8 Comments

  1. I hate it when I see myself in a store window, yet always check because I might be trailing an entire roll of toilet paper. It’s especially unpleasant in malls because there you are in the glass right next to mannequins showing what you’re “supposed” to look like, and the clothes you’re supposed to fit into. I’ve asked guys whether they feel judged and found wanting every second they’re in a shopping mall and mainly they say no, or that they do but it’s about what they can or can’t buy rather than what they look like.

    1. I think guys do experience this. As the mum of boys, I have heard my boys say they want to look more like store mannequins – they want a six-pack. They want broad shoulders. They don’t care about the clothes, but they want tee shirts that make them look ripped. They don’t want to be skinny, fat, pimply…

      Of course, men, I think, have a lot more pressure to be the “financial providers”, and so I think I understand that sentiment too (the “it’s more about what they can or can’t buy…” one). And it’s just as shitty.

      I’ve decided I don’t care if I’m trailing terlet paper. I’ll just claim to be doing some cosplay and move on. Because the awesome thing about being 40 is that it actually doesn’t matter. What people think can go fuck itself. At least, that’s how I’m looking at my 40s.

  2. I find I rarely look at myself in the mirror – even when I go in to the bathroom deliberately to do so.

    I have more important things on my mind, and I’m perfectly capable of brushing my hair without looking.

    65 is wonderful.

  3. So many double standards… and clothes shopping in the mall is so depressing! Not only is there very little that actually fits, there’s a few stores where I’d like to ask if they have *changing rooms* in a size 16 please….
    I actually got a genuine look of horror the other day. The one body part which you can get away with being enormous, indeed, the bit that skinny women actually get envious of – boobs – and you STILL can’t find anything that fits. I askec if they had anything in a 36F in la vie en rose… the woman in there actually shrieked “no!!” as if I’d asked for a bra made out of skinned kittens or something…

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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