When I asked a cosmetic surgeon (who was removing a suspicious mole from my face)
what he might do if I wanted say... a refresher, he said, “Take you glasses off. Okay, turn left. Now, right.” He paused for about fifteen seconds until he uttered his prognosis, “Here’s what to do. Put your glasses on.” The point I am trying to make is that I have never seen myself as beautiful. I have had moments, brief, passing glimpses, when a camera has caught me and I can see something the that doesn’t exist in the version I carry of myself. My version of me is best compared to an old wallet snapshot that has faded to yellow, been sat upon and is both wrinkled and distressed.
For reasons that I can not guess, I have had the most unusual thing happen recently. Numerous, unrelated, people have been telling me that I am a beautiful woman. I am not wholly sure what that means. I think they are entirely sincere, however. I suspect that they mean both my visage and my spirit. This single thought, “I might be beautiful!” is liberating, surprising, uplifting and, if I’m honest, ridiculous! If I am so bold as to change up the statement to “I AM BEAUTIFUL,” an entirely new universe opens to me. I feel like I am carrying the best secret in the whole world. One I never knew existed. l found myself looking into the mirror this morning with more curiosity than I have shown since I was sixteen. What do people see exactly?
I know my smile is in good shape. My lips are my mother’s: the top one is thin, the lower is slightly more full. My teeth are straight after the kind intervention of my friend, Bruce. His orthodontic skills, braces and time, left my teeth aligned and even. Gone is the one eye tooth that, at one time, overlapped on its neighbor just ever so slightly. I am true to my retainers and my smile stays fixed and wide.
My nose was a source of some concern for my son when he was younger. He asked me if, when he grew up, would his nose be as big as mine? I allayed his fears while secretly wondering if I might, indeed, end up looking like I might be related to Jimmy Durante. It a a long, straight proboscis, with flared oval nostrils. I imagine it as the Rockies that divides the left side of my face from the right. Resting on either side of my nose, that Great Divide, are two, high cheekbones. I have had people guess my nationality based on those cheekbones. I think they are a bit obvious because I am a thin woman, and there is not a lot of padding there.
I worked at a cosmetic chain called Merle Norman back in the eighties, The skill I brought to that job was that I could actually imagine the women, many who had never worn makeup, in Before and After shots. In a matter of weeks, I discovered that the feature that most dramatically changed a woman’s appearance were her eyes. I had a sketch pad that was printed with the outline of a face on every page. I would use the eyeliners and eye shadow to sketch out my ideas for each woman. Eight out of ten times, the women would give me the green light. I would pull out all the magic pens, paints, powders, salves and lotions. My very own eyes are directly from my father’s family. The shape and rich brown color are uniquely Evans. Nothing to say about that except genetics. Deep set, slightly too close - creating a very narrow bridge upon which to set those glasses the cosmetic surgeon recommended. I watched as my mother aged, the slight folds of skin above her eyes began to droop. I wanted to show her how to use eye shadow to counter that effect. She did not want to hear a word about makeup, so I kept my counsel to myself. Now I can benefit from it as I see the same effect of gravity at work upon my brown eyes. I remember my grandmother painting on her eyebrows. She made me promise to, “Make sure my eyebrows are on before they bury me.” She was only half-joking. I had no idea that the scarcity of eyebrow hairs was a side-effect of menopause. My own brows are thinner than they once were. I avoid tweezing and plucking with a deliberate appreciation for preservation of my brows. My eyelashes are not the sweeping, long variety. However, they serve their purpose and I am grateful they are plentiful enough that, when the spirit moves me, I may apply black-brown mascara.
These features are set in an rather long, oval face. My skin shows the effects of sun, the day-to-day grind of living and lots and lots of laughter. It retains elasticity that is unusual at my age. One of the positive claims that I can make as a result of a flaw in my collagen production is that my skin, purportedly, is more youthful than average for someone my age. Whether that is part of the mystery of my recent “Beautiful” accolades, I cannot surmise. I have tried looking in the mirror to find the answer. I stood and look for a long time. I haven’t looked in the mirror like this since I was sixteen, wondering what my boyfriend saw.
My supposition is that beauty truly resides within us. My growing belief is that whatever it is that people have been seeing in me lately is a reflection of the beauty I find around me. Perhaps I do nothing more than reflect the infinite beauty that surrounds me. It is possible to find beauty in most anything. And if I can’t? I try again. That kind of astonishing beauty? That kind? I look for it as I try to find my footing on a new path. I bring with me memories, sorrow, pain and a sense of a bigger picture. I am rediscovering the power of friendship and of family. That kind of beauty has taken hold of me and won’t let go. Perhaps, maybe, I am nothing more than a mirror of the beauty that I see and experience all around me. That thought gives me pause to consider....
“Mirror, mirror on the Wall, am I really fair, at all?”
With surprise and reluctant acceptance, the answer I hear is that I am, well....I am - beautiful.
|Dawn with glasses.|