Self-portrait with Mirror
When my 19-year-old daughter informed me she didn’t want to take her magnifying mirror back to college with her since she would stare at almost non-existent blocked pores and proceed to unblock them, it made me think. “Whoa! I don’t know if I could do that. Am I addicted to the magnification like a junkie in a back ally? Would I be crying out for a fix at the end of the day?” That horrid instrument of ego destruction has bound me to my cast reflection more times than I would like to admit. Blocked pores have been the least of my concern since gazing for the first time into that high powered tool mounted on a wall of a hotel. It nearly ruined my vacation! I stared at what seemed to be an alien landscape which was really my upper epidermis complete with pot holes, peaks, and valleys. “How could this be my skin?” I thought in horror.
Years have gone by and the slow deterioration of my close-up vision has hastened my growing addiction to my own magnifying mirror. The fear of errant nose and eyebrow hairs as well as failed attempts at applying eyeliner has kept me glued to this specialized looking glass.
“Come on! For God’s sake you don’t need it.” With that thought the intervention began. I wistfully took one last look, careful to tweeze any unwanted hairs for I did not know what fate awaited me out there in a brave new world that didn’t include enormous image inspections. Sobered by my decision, my heart began to race as I anticipated life without it. Gazing at my enlarged reflection like having my nose pressed up to my own image on an IMAX movie screen had become a daily routine. I had become numbed to scrutinizing my moonlike surface with small wrinkles that appeared like huge crevices among my crater-esque pores. My self-image had been bruised and battered over the years of self-examination.
At that moment I split in two. My strong-willed tough side said, “It’s time,” to the pitiful wimpy weakling inside of me which sighed taking one last look. Then the two became one and picked up the offending tool of terror, placing it on a high shelf where it could be forgotten.
The next morning I peeked into my old free standing mirror. “Geez!” I was taken aback by how tiny my head was. My entire body part fit inside the small mirror! I applied my make-up somehow without looking like a cast member ofA Rocky Horror Picture Show. I stood back, smiled at my reflection and said, “I can do this!” (Of course I may have looked like Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter and didn’t know it.)
That evening went well too, but I tried a new gizmo that started my demise. I had purchased a battery operated skin buffer at the grocery store. “What a deal!” I thought, “A good sanding is what my skin needs.” My mistake was using the granulated cream with it. I always have an allergic reaction to anti-age creams, but for some ridiculous reason I get it in my head that this new miracle cream will be, “The One!” - Angels sing in background
The next morning I looked in the mirror and even though a pinhead-sized reflection stared back, I could see that my skin had begun to react. A rash had formed only now I couldn’t do the usual recon mission. It just about killed me to ignore the magnifier to see what devastation had arrived in the wake of the newest anti-age treatment, but I was strong.
Proudly, I strode by my shelf not looking at that mirror once that day! I treated it the best I could, working on my ravaged skin in braille.
Everything seemed to be going well until I had to go to a party the next night. By then the redness and peeling had taken over my entire cheek. What would I do? I needed to cover it up, but I couldn’t see what I was doing. I tried relenting, but I was weak. Weak I say! I am so sorry to report that my magnifying mirror barely had any time to collect dust on that high shelf before I grabbed it and plunked it down on my counter with a resounding, “Bang!” Armed with caulk, filler, and paint I began to reconstruct a somewhat presentable version of myself before going out although I hung my head in shame for the addiction had raised its ugly head.
I know I have let you down, after all my lack of magnification only lasted a few days. The cold turkey approach although effective at first became disastrous. Like so much we experience in life, moderation is the key to balance. I am happy to report that I have come to terms with my addiction and only use the magnifying mirror in dire emergencies. Seeing my shrunken pea-sized head staring back at me is no longer a shock. I have a better self-image knowing this is how everyone sees me anyway!
Beauty is only skin deep after all…
Illustration by S. Lindau