We Real Women all own mirrors. Usually several of them. There’s the bathroom mirror where we do the private review of ourselves in our birthday suits, sucking in our stomachs or lifting up what gravity has been pulling down, or leaning in close to get rid of errant eyebrow hairs or to take inventory of wrinkles or complexion issues.
Then there’s the mirror where we put on our make-up. This one is either chosen for use due to good light, or just convenient proximity to where we store our cosmetics. Then there is the larger mirror where we assess our outfit for the day – often causing several changes before finally realizing we are running late and just have to go with whatever we have on.
Some of us have other smaller mirrors in handy locations for last minute checks before going out the door, or in our purses or cars to check windblown hair issues and lipstick application.
One would think, that with all of these opportunities for reflection, there would be no surprises awaiting us regarding our appearance. We know how we look. Some days, on those rare lucky days, we’ve got good hair, a rockin’ outfit, and all of our appearance planets seem to be aligned. Most days, however, we just at some point give ourselves approval to go out in public looking as we do. We reach the “as good as its gonna get” moment and step out feeling, if not confident, at least alright with ourselves.
Most days, we are right. All is well. We did good. We look fine, if not awesome.
Then other days, somehow, between the home mirror and the rest of the world, we enter through a mysterious, secret, evil portal of metamorphosis. We go into the bathroom at our place of employment and look in the mirror there, or we catch a reflection of ourselves in a window or store mirror, and we are taken aback at what we see. Suddenly we realize that we are having a horrific hair day, or the bags under our eyes are dark and foreboding, or that outfit that looked so cute at home and in our imagination is just plain…bad.
One morning recently, I chose to put on a new top I had found on a clearance rack the previous weekend and a pair of capri’s. I didn’t venture into the ladies’ room at work until late morning, and when I did, I thought “oh dear lord, this outfit looks like I put on 35 pounds overnight! What was I thinking?!” I had crossed over that line from trendy and fun, and had entered into unflattering and scary. I suddenly wanted to go hide behind my desk for the rest of the day.
Sometimes the error is not in the way an outfit accentuates the least favorable parts of our bodies, but has more to do with wardrobe malfunctions. “I swear I couldn’t see my bra or panties through this material at home!” or “was that stain there this morning?!” or “why won’t this zipper stay up/hook stay clasped/button stay on?”
The clothing isn’t always what changes after we somehow pass through this invisible bad news gateway. “Did I look this tired and pale this morning?!” or my favorite “wait, where did that new crop of grey hair come from?”
We can blame poor lighting or bad eyesight for our delusions that we look nifty when clearly we don’t… but I do think there is a mysterious transformational force at work. When we are in front of our own mirrors at home, all is well. So something else must be happening. Clearly one of the other secretive portals this force uses is the camera. How many of us have seen photos of ourselves and realized: “Wow, those pants make me look huge, I’ve gotta lose weight!” or “what the heck, my boobs look ginormous!” or “yikes, how did I get so old?”
In order to stop this mysterious dark force in our lives, we would need to remove all mirrors and reflective surfaces outside our homes and hide from all cameras. Or, perhaps we could hunt down Tony Robbins and ask him to cast a spell on us like he did for Jack Black in the movie Shallow Hal. I suppose neither of these are realistic options. So perhaps, we just need to get used to the fact that our imaginations might be a bit more rosey than reality. Or, even better, stop being so hard on ourselves and realize that the people we come in contact with each day are likely never going to notice our bad hair days, the stain on our shirt, a poor wardrobe choice, the extra wrinkle around our eyes, or the five new grey hairs. They are more apt to notice our new shirt, or our smile, or our funky earrings.
They won’t see our imperfections – mostly because they are too busy worrying about their own.