Mirror Mirror on the Wall

 Porträt der Magherita wikimedia Commons
Porträt der Magherita
wikimedia Commons

I am not, nor have I ever been, a classic beauty.  Over the years the body parts subjected to my disdain, dissatisfaction and scorn have been many and varied.  My nose, my freckles, my knees.  My gummy smile, my fine hair, lack of boobs, saggy boobs, stretch marks, short waist, cellulite.  I am harsh lines but without the cheekbones.  More Modigliani than Monroe.  I have had my fair share of admirers over the years, as most of us have, but suddenly, out of nowhere, at the ripe old age of nearly 43 (and oh, how it hurt to write that number), I’ve noticed a bit more notice.

I’m sure a lot of this is to do with the fact that I am sleeping eight and nine hours a night for the first time this century.  It may be that my bangs have finally grown in after that disaster of a haircut.  Perhaps the northern climes of Denmark suit my skin better than the sweaty southern shores of Cyprus.  Who knows.  But the point is, it’s weird.

And yet, at the same time, it’s really not.

Because I don’t think it is the way I look which attracts people.  I think it’s to do with a sense of self-ease; with where I am, who I am, what I am.  I don’t feel like I am consciously projecting a shimmery aura of self-awareness and acceptance or any other new-agey Kundalini/chakra opening/ naked yoga beauty.  It’s just a comfortable settling in with myself. And this is something I’ve only been able to achieve as I age.

A Facebook friend recently posted an ode to women over 40 (which has been widely and falsely attributed to Andy Rooney).  It doesn’t really matter who wrote it, the spirit of the piece is true enough.   Sure there are chin hairs and hot flashes on the horizon, but there is also self-awareness.  There may be laugh lines and crow’s-feet, crepe-y necks a creeping in, but there is confidence as well.  And that all comes through, in the way you speak, in the opinions you hold, in the way you carry yourself and the life you lead.  And those are the things that make you sparkle, that make you shine, that make people want to be near you.

8851I have always been an open book, with both my opinions and my emotions.  I have never shied away from talking about myself or my experiences or sharing my stories with anyone and everyone.  (Point in case:  a somewhat narcissistic blog post, on a blog, which is essentially a narcissistic exercise—but I don’t want to meta-anaylyze myself.  Not today).  Infertility?  BTDT, what’s your question?   Depression? Practically an expert, what do you want to know?  Sex, parenting, knitting?  Go for it, though I draw the line at combining the three, those knitting needles are sharp.  I am opinionated.  I have strong political and social beliefs, but I like to think I respect that not everyone thinks the same way I do.  Unless it is blatantly hateful, falling into one ‘ism’ or another, I will listen to what someone has to say.  I may out-shout them or ask them to back it up with proof or just agree to disagree, but that is life.  And I am starting to believe this openness, this willingness to share, not only the funny stories (remind me to tell you about the guy who jumped off the balcony in Falaraki), but also the painful ones, (multiple miscarriages), the embarrassing ones, (the falling down drunk ones), the cringe worthy ones, (well, maybe not those), this makes me attractive to people.  I think it’s also why people often stop and ask me for directions.  They have a sixth sense that I’m not going to rob them, molest them, or laugh in their face.  And I may just tell them a witty story while I am telling them to turn left at the lights.

I’m not perfect, not by any stretch, but I know who I am, and that kind of self-knowledge is something that only comes with age and experience.  As much as I thought I knew myself 25 years ago, or 15 years ago, I can look back now and do the condescending older person thing of smiling indulgently and nodding.  “Uh-huh.  Sure you do.  Yup.”   Knowledge and awareness don’t just accumulate over time, the benefits expand exponentially.  The passions and intensities that burn bright through your youth soften, sure, but they soften into something sustainable.  No one can maintain a sprint through life.  The heart will not stand it.Blue_candles_on_birthday_cake

When I was young, only 18 or so, I met a friend of a friend’s mom.  At the time, I was confused about who I was, who I wanted to be, who I thought I was.  I wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be famous.  I wanted people to know my name.  But I was not confident, not in myself, and certainly not in the way I looked.  And she looked at me and said, “You need to grow into your beauty”.  This woman had never met me before, I’ve never seen her again.  I haven’t thought about her words again until recently.  But I know now it’s not  physical beauty she was referring to. She was referring to the place of calm, of acceptance, of awareness that comes with age.

I joke all the time about how much getting older sucks.  And there’s a lot about it that does suck.  Just when I’ve reached an age where I can afford nice things, I have to be careful what I wear.  I have to watch what I eat, and drink.  Out go the cheese doodles, in comes the quinoa. I am aware of my age, in a way I never was when I was in my 20s, when everything except the next beer seemed so far off it didn’t warrant worrying.  But I wouldn’t trade in the satisfaction, the comfort, the feeling of home I’ve come to experience within myself.  Not for anything.  Not even for the plump, collagen rich skin of my 18-year-old self.

It’s a powerful thing to be ok with one’s self, muffin top, crow’s-feet, spider veins and all.  Because these days when I look in the mirror, it’s not the freckles and the laugh lines that stare back at me, but a woman who is loved, not only by others, but by herself.

And that is the fairest of all.

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14 thoughts on “Mirror Mirror on the Wall

  1. womanunadorned June 6, 2013 / 9:04 am

    Hooray for us older women! I do think youth is wasted on the young. I was miserable about my appearance when I was a young woman – convinced I was ugly – and you look back now and think “You were gorgeous! Why didn’t you enjoy it?” But I also think being older and wiser means you can spot the creeps and the exploiters a lot more easily.

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    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 10:04 am

      Very, very true! I was going over some old pictures and holy cow, I’m not sure what the issue was because I was smokin’. ;-). But seriously, I wish we could let young women today know not to fear aging, but to embrace it, chin hairs and all.

      Like

  2. Jeneva June 6, 2013 / 9:49 am

    dina… are you a mind reader?

    Like

    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 10:03 am

      A Jungian. (Not). I do love though when we are all feeling the same things together. It makes me feel like we should go drumming in the woods or something.

      Like

  3. stephen hall June 6, 2013 / 1:31 pm

    Congratulations love…. wish my wife felt the same. There’s no counting the amount of times she still needs that twenty something bolstering. Still not believing me when I tell her she is beautiful. I love to tell her, don’t get me wrong, it’s her replies “Really, do you think so?” “I just don’t see it” that make me want to , from time to time say ” No, just kidding , you’re fat and old, I’m only with you out of pity” or something like that. Anyway Dina, Sam reads and loves your blog and I hope she gleans something from this one….. X.

    ________________________________

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    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 7:58 pm

      I just had a word with your wife. She should be good now. ;-). We women are fickle, aren’t we? We want you to tell us we’re beautiful, but if you tell us too much, we stop believing you. But if you stop telling us, we panic. But here is the advice I recently gave my own knight in shining armor—don’t tell me I look good, talk to me. Don’t just tell me about your day, talk to me about an article that caught your interest or something that made you think. Feed my soul. Because when you light that spark of interest, it ignites everything above and below it and that’s when I light up from within. A bit pretty and girly, but hey, I’m a girl. Thanks, as always, Steve.

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  4. doublewhirler June 6, 2013 / 2:59 pm

    Solidarity! Let me know which woods and I’ll bring my drum. Look forward to some more wisdom on this middle age—when does lamb become mutton (fashion-wise)?

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    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 7:53 pm

      Yes! Let’s have a drumming circle! Why should men get to have all the percussion fun!? I think lamb becomes fashion mutton….right about now. Have given away most of my shorter skirts/dresses, but still rock the vegan leather pants. Mind you, that may be a weather thing.

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  5. Allison DeFord June 6, 2013 / 4:34 pm

    I couldn’t have said this better myself…we’re living parallel lives. Meeting you some day would be a true gift. I’ll be the one with chin hairs and laugh lines. 😉

    Like

    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 7:51 pm

      I could send Lego Dina to visit you for a few days, ;-). I’m glad this resonated with you. I think it’s important that we stop trying to be young and realize how much more we have to offer the world as we get older. I’ll be the one with the red rose and the hot flashes.

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  6. Samantha Hall June 6, 2013 / 6:30 pm

    It is a powerful thing to be happy with oneself. i have my good days but mostly bad ones but you know what Dina thank you again for an insightful, friggin fantastic piece. I now feel empowered and hey goddamnit a tad sexy……47 next week (i feel the same way about typing that for all to see…blah) but it’s all good. Stephen stills fancies the shit out of me and my daughter calls me beautiful all the time….life is good and I am loved.

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    • dhonour June 6, 2013 / 7:49 pm

      You have a husband and a daughter who think you’re gorgeous, friends that want to be in your life, and you live in the best city in the world. You should feel sexy and good and loved!!

      Like

  7. spectator June 16, 2013 / 3:20 am

    It s so true that as we get older we also grow more confident ,I guess we leave aside many of the insecurities we have in our younger days and accept ourselves as who we are without trying to imitate others. Very nice post.

    Like

    • dhonour June 16, 2013 / 7:26 am

      Thank you. I find myself, age wise, in the middle right now. And I look at the women who are older than me who positively float through life with that confidence and the ones who are younger and gorgeous still a little unsteady on their feet it’s easy to see where you’d rather be. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

      Like

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