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How I Learned to Give Up the Magnifying Mirror and Accept Getting Older
I have the kind of gloriously oily skin that is supposed to keep wrinkles away. I also have plenty of pudge to plump up cracks. In fact, throughout my 30s, I was confident I could pass for 5 to 10 years younger, thanks to my fresh face and youthful demeanor.
Then I was mistaken for my husband's mother.
When I joined him at his office for lunch one day, the cafeteria cashier gestured to my visitor badge and said, "Who's this, your mom?" He is two years younger than I am, but that should hardly place me in a different generation. The cashier was mortified by her error, but she has probably recovered by now. I, however, still hang on to the memory and let it snag on my self-esteem every time it pops up.
Now that I've turned 40, I decided to accept my age and appearance as simple facts among the aggregate of "stuff" that makes me who I am. As a kindness to myself, I'm tossing the centerpiece of my vanity counter, a frequent tool of self-torture — my magnifying mirror.
I have a dysfunctional and dependent relationship with this mirror, but it has gotten better over time. Years ago, I sat in front of it every night, tweezing, squeezing, and lamenting the terrain of my complexion. My super power was identifying and attacking blemishes. I can see invisible pimples, uncover hairs before they even emerge!
I would say to my husband, "Ugh, this bump." Or "My God, why didn't you tell me about this chin hair?" His answer was always, "I don't see it." I blame his poor eyesight and inattention to detail. I thought it must be the same affliction that prevented him from seeing a sink full of dishes or a dirty floor.
I did recognize that my use of the magnifying mirror was unhealthy. I talked to my therapist about it. Yes, it was that kind of problem. She asked if I could start by limiting it to every other day, and eventually, I cut back to one epic evening of close-up examination per week. I'm afraid I was still seeing things a little tooclearly.
At times I would lean over and look facedown into the magnifying mirror, an act I whole-heartedly do not recommend. You think there's nothing loose or wrinkly about your skin and then you catch sight of yourself with all of it drooping forward.
Another side-effect of age is the rough/bumpy texture of my skin. I buff, scrub, and salve, but nothing is going to give me the soft, perfect, inexperienced skin of my two-year-old.
I will also probably grow more and more errant facial hairs as the years tick by. It's time to be a grown-up and focus my obsessive attention to plucking in a healthier direction. What else could I accomplish in the time I spend with my mirror? With an extra hour a week, I could sew curtains, organize my books, or go to yoga class.
And those bumps, wrinkles, hairs, and other imperfections? They are only visible at 10x magnification and with a spotlight shining on them. I feel like I'm moving into my soft focus years. I'd like to present myself to the world lightly powdered and lip-stained, in natural sunlight, and from a polite distance.
At exactly one week past my 40th birthday, I gave my mirror a ceremonial send-off. I waited until my husband came home from work because I knew he would enjoy the exorcism of my self-critical demon. I visited the looking glass one last time to see that my eyeshadow was crooked, and the week-old bump was still on my cheek. Then I dumped the mirror in the trash can (the big one outside, not one I could easily retrieve it from).
I won't use that particular tool to find fault with myself again.
Video: What I learned when I gave up my cell phone | Hays Edmunds | [email protected]
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