It must be the frosted glass shades that soften the light of the LEDs in the brass light fixtures in my downstairs bathroom.
The lights above the two large oval mirrors shine down from above. That bathroom had two sinks when we moved in, and I didn’t even think of reducing those to one when we redid it – I should have, and I should have put the laundry there also – live and learn – I’ll never be able to afford redoing it now, unless I win the lottery.
The lights are quite bright, despite those white glass shades.
Every time I catch a glimpse of my face in one of those mirrors, lit by those lights, I see a beautiful woman.
I think, “damn, Annie, you’re cute! You’re beautiful!”
So I try to take a selfie that won’t show me holding my phone, taking a selfie.
And in the photo of me, taken when I think I look gorgeous, I see a hag, a crone, with wrinkles and sallow skin.
What’s going on here?
Do I own magic mirrors?
Is the camera in my phone defective?
Maybe I should cover those mirrors.
You must know of that wonderful film called “My Brilliant Career” where the protagonist, an independent, unusual young woman in late 19th century Australia, played by Judy Davis, becomes despondent about her life and prospects, believing she is plain, and frustrated with efforts to marry her off – until a wiser older woman she is visiting covers all the mirrors in her house, forcing that young woman to realize that her character, intelligence, sense of humor and grace make her attractive. And, spoiler alert, she does attract a really nice man, but ends up turning him down to maintain her independence and pursue her dream of being a writer.
Covering up the mirrors was a good idea. I’m going to stop taking selfies in good light with a bad camera, and I’m going to stop being so concerned looking my age.
I’m going to walk through the world believing I am the beautiful woman I see in my magic mirror, remembering that it is intelligence, wit, grace and the kindness I am trying to convey that might make me attractive. I’m going to believe that my belief in myself will make others believe I am beautiful, too – inside and out.
I’ve seen a few photos of me, lately (taken by my brother, at a Cubs game, with a better camera than mine) where I look, um, unobjectionable. Tolerable. Even, dare I say it, attractive? In them I look relaxed, confident, happy, like I’m having fun (and who doesn’t have fun on a sunny day at Wrigley?) and like I’m not concerned about what others think about me – only concerned about having fun with the people I’m with, in that moment.
And I have seen a photo of me having fun by myself, last night, celebrating my acceptance into a rigorous Chicago area choral group. I was actually trying to use my camera as a mirror (oops) to discreetly reapply lipstick (see “Middle-Aged Woman Rules”) while sitting at an outside table at a local restaurant, straining to see – which struck me as funny – and remembering how appalled my Grandfather, Father and brothers would be, me putting on lipstick IN PUBLIC, for God’s sake, which also struck me as funny. These men believed, and those still with us still believe, that ladies are supposed to excuse themselves to do that, elsewhere. Unseen. Just come back looking better and let whoever you are with try to figure out why.
So I was laughing about that, and about bothering to put lipstick on in the dark, trying to use my phone’s reversible camera as a mirror, and I accidentally snapped a selfie.
And here’s what I found on my phone today:
Not too shabby, huh? Bad light and all?
Actually, I messed with the photo to brighten it up and somehow managed to delete the original before it was backed up, so I messed with this one to try to darken it back down to look like it looked originally. Whatever. You get the idea. I look happy, relaxed and unworried about being ridiculous, taking a selfie in the dark.
Mike found me when I had stopped looking, or at least when I had made peace with the possibility of never finding “the one.” And then he showed up.
He helped me understand that I didn’t have to try so hard, that I would be more attractive if I just chilled out a little, enjoyed the moment and took the pressure off.
His favorite picture of me was taken on our honeymoon, in the morning, before make-up, where I thought I looked disheveled and washed-out.
He loved it because he thought it revealed in my face my innocent heart, undisguised by artifice or excessive concern with my looks. He saw ME when he saw me, and he loved what he saw.
I’ll take another look at that picture from time to time, to remind myself that there’s someone inside me, behind the lipstick, worthy of being loved.
In the meantime I want to be the kind of person who has that effect on others – reminding them with a smile or a conversation that they are seen, that they are loved, that they are worthy of love – and that they are beautiful.
I’m sure you’ve seen that viral video by Shea, from Chicago, of people’s reactions when they are told they are beautiful, and all the others inspired by it, so I didn’t link any of them here – but if you haven’t seen them, just search “people react to being told they are beautiful.”