Body Image: Every Woman's Mirror Talk
“This talk is long overdue. You have disappointed me. You developed too late, and when you did you put more weight on your hips and less on your breast than requested. You do remember me begging you, in the mirror to grow those, right? Did you listen? Not for 20 years, whatzup with that?
I ordered dark red curly, thick, wild hair but you brought thin honey blonde and straight fluff. That breaches our contract. And what about these eyebrows? Who ordered a mono brow? And the ears? After diving into that vast gene pool you could only retrieve those ears? You tire too soon. Tired sucks. And your lips, where are they? They have gone. I know I broke your arm, smashed you against a freeway wall, they were accidents, allright? At times I under fed, over fed and sometimes abused you. But what is that amongst friends?
When I think of yesterday I don’t think I ever really appreciated you. Looking at old pictures now I see I never really saw you as you were. How did I miss you? But, answer me, how did you get old and I did not?”
Narrator ends address to main character. Exit center stage - rear.
Enter Fermi stage left. Enrico Fermi, brilliant Italian scientist, born in Rome, 1901. At 17 his thesis stunned the scientific world. Fermi quantified and measured everything, using his thumb. He placed it near his left eye and closed his right. Try that. Imagine going through life looking with one closed eye and around your thumb through the open one. Using this method he measured the distance of a range of mountains, the height of a tree, the speed of a bird’s flight. When there was nothing else to measure he arranged people according to height, looks, wealth or even their sex appeal.
Enter stage right, Dame Judi Dench. She was fantastic as Iris, then Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown. She excelled in Chocolat? But I am an unabashed fan. At interview this highly acclaimed actress admitted she never watches anything she does. Her reason? “Well, you know, I am a 5’10” lithe, blonde Swede but when it is my turn to go on stage they send out this troll.” Does she really see herself as a troll? Could be, I doubt she is repeating some clever line a handler gave her. One of the world’s most accomplished actresses, honored by Royalty closes
one eye, sticks her thumb up by the open eye, measures herself against her ideal. Disappointed with what she sees she refuses to look. “How can that be?” It is, it be’s.
The point? Fermi is not the only one with his thumb in his eye measuring those around him. Judi is not alone in refusing to look at what is. Women do it consciously, unconsciously, awake and asleep. “Is her hair better than mine? Could I get my hair to do that? Is she older than me? How does she look that young? She works where I do so how do her nails look like that? Does my rear end look bigger than hers?”
I was torn from my sleep by my daughter standing in my door way pleading “Mom make them go away, please?” On her way to puberty her hips had appeared overnight. Even my 'mom powers' did not stretch to hip removal. Time does not always bring pleasing changes. A friend had great peripheral vision. She was indignant to learn that at a certain age she may “lose” it. She figured it came with a life time warranty.
Puberty steals our pretty little feet and tiny straight bodies, our ability to curl and twirl and climb. We never see them again. Babies take over and make changes we do not always order. The thirties and forties can be unremarkable, until we sit quietly enough to hear our bodies creak and change. Menopause rips out the eye lashes and eyebrows and does not give them back. Breasts come and go. Our mothers predict that one day soon, we will roll them up and stuff them into our bra. Time takes our peripheral vision. Age turns an elegant 5’9” woman into a 5’5” frail little old lady.
Enter center stage - narrator to main character: “Body in the mirror I promise to take the thumb out of my eye and clearly see who I am now, and to seize the day. Can we rekindle our friendship? Please? p.s. Can I have my eye brows back now?”
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