Body Image. Again.


I have been aware for a long time that I have habits that annoy me. I keep them separate from the habits that annoy others. I know they are quite distinctly different.

I think it restrained to resist listing all my habits that annoy me because I feel that the less power, in these matters, that one gives others, the better.

The thing that I am currently examining is all linked to body image. Specifically mine, but as a shop-keeper with large mirrors I don’t feel I am alone in this one.

As I approach a mirror I compose my face. I pout, lift my chin, squint a little and smile slightly. What does this do? This is the question. Does it make my neck look younger? My eyes less tired, my mouth bigger? My cheekbones tighter? Possible this last one only. Therefore I look really boney and weird.

Why? Why? To the point where I am screaming why? Why can I not stop, either.

I am not hugely enamoured of myself in the mirror. I never have been, but it surely gets worse as gravity lets go, as age expands and exhaustion breathes deeply. Yet this does not explain a lifetime of resisting what is in the mirror. There are words for this issue, but they mainly describe seeing other than what is. I am talking about the wish to be something else.

I was trying on shoes in Selfridges yesterday. A major staff shortage made it severely challenging, but I wished for thinner ankles and then stopped myself by saying that there was a much more important list of needs and changes to my physical appearance before the ankles kicked in.

Later, sitting waiting for some top or other in Jigsaw, in front of a fluorescent lit mirror I looked at myself as one does when you are sure there is no audience. Totally sure. And so what? It is rounded and human and me. But I still looked up at my face and pouted, lifted etc. Arghhh! I have no control over my face in the mirror!

Later, talking about it with Baptiste I found it hard to explain. I was almost lost as to how to explain these sensations to a man. Eventually we bonded madly on the issue of aging. But body image feels such a girl thing. I am sure it is not, but gosh it is hard to explain the cultural expectations and the limits of who one can be, visually, as a woman: perfect OR ugly, slag, crone, witch, fat, old. Sadly I feel the wrong side of OR and it is getting me quite ratty. I don’t want to be labelled and stuck somewhere. I want to be me, but in being me, I am sitting on the edge of the shoe box marked large ladies with grey hair and independence issues…………