The Scribbler

4 September 2010

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

Filed under: words — The Scribbler @ 16:42

The other day I was wishing I could cut someone a large slice of self confidence, like a generous portion of cake. It’ something they do have sometimes, but it would make them happier if they had it more often. I lack it too sometimes, as I was harshly reminded yesterday.

I’ve never been a ‘girly’ girl. Not much of a one for dressing up, makeup, jewellery or accessories. I hate shoes and would happily never wear them gain if there was another way to keep my feet warm dry and uninjured. The same is not true of running shoes.

I don’t have anything against anyone who does like those things. In fact, I’m likely to be the first to compliment you on a stylish or quirky piece of jewellery. I seem to have a magpies eyes, without the need to snatch such treasures in my own beak.

But when my sister got married earlier this year, she arranged for us bridesmaids to have our hair and makeup done by a couple of her friends on the big day. And I felt lovely. happy to be beside my beloved and beautiful sister on her special day and, for once, feeling like myself inside the make up. Like dressing up and looking ‘finished’ was just another facet of my personality – one that I could shine up for special occasions.

So I promised my sister I would do it again. Take the time and bother to add a little gloss and enjoy it. And with an invitation to a wedding reception, I had the perfect opportunity.

I booked myself into the local hair salon for one of the girls to put my hair up. I’d tried to find someone to do my makeup, but had no luck, so resolved to make the best of my own attempts. I’d even bought a couple of flower grips for my hair.

But, one of the things about not being a ‘girly’ girl, is that I don’t spend a lot of time in front of a mirror and even when I do, I’m not really looking. It’s a wonder somedays I don’t leave the house with toothpaste all around my mouth and my clothes on inside out.

So as I sat there for over an hour as she fiddled and fussed, backcombed and gripped, I look myself right in the eyes and thought, “I’m getting old.” I traced the familiar route of a downturned mouth and long face and picked out every line and crease around my forehead and eyes. I look like my Nana did.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve never been the face that launched a thousand ships, nor have ever wished to be. In fact, given the choice between pretty or smart, I’d choose smart every time. And I value the love, wisdom and heart that my Nana shared with everyone she met. But that mirror gave me a glimpse into the future.

The girl didn’t fill me with confidence. She’d been trying to fix my hair in a side style, then kept pulling out all the grips and starting again. She ended up pulling it straight back from my face, and while it looked very pretty at the back, from the front…well it was a bit Jayne Eyre. And, reader, I fought back the tears.

I did manage to explain, and she did change it and make it softer, and I ended up with something quite nice, but the damage had been done. I wanted to be anywhere else than in front of that mirror.

As I walked home, I pulled myself together. I reflected on how it was a good job generally that I don’t worry too much about my appearance, as all beauty is transient. And that I was, after all, just going to share part of a very special day with two people who mean the world to me, and wild horses could not stop me from being there.

I can’t break the habit of a lifetime, so years of not caring too much about what’s on the surface, meant I could shrug this one off. But relections of my own vanity had scratched the surface.

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