Do you ever long for the days when you were completely at ease in your skin? I mean so long ago that you weren’t even aware of your physical self beyond maybe when you needed to use the bathroom or felt tired or hungry. Way back when as a person you hadn’t yet learned to critically dissect your body and find multiple and various parts lacking in beauty or acceptability.
I don’t know when it began. Was it in elementary school when we children were made to step on a scale to be weighed and measured in gym class? In retrospect, that practice seems so problematic that it’s difficult to imagine it was acceptable, but I have to believe it was done innocently and without intent to cause anxiety. Not for nothing, but kids in the 70s rarely had anxiety, at least not diagnosed.
Things became more complicated in middle school. There were body comparisons in the locker room as we changed into our zip front, one piece gym uniforms, uniforms we had received after publicly requesting our specific size. Speaking of size, as females, the size chart was suddenly different. No longer were we even sizes, now we had to figure out how to clad our bodies using a new system. Odd numbers like the coveted size 5 replaced girls sizing such as 10, 12 or 14 which had more directly related to our age. It was all confusing.
For the next three decades, I mentally picked my body apart into separate pieces – legs (good), waist (bad), breasts (too big), ass (too small), until I exhaustedly let that shit go finally understanding that I needed to honor and respect this remarkable vessel which had brought me three children and allowed me to travel for miles and miles. Enough.
This detente with my body allowed my attention to become more focused on a part of myself I had never given much time before – my face. After years of full and dimpled cheeks, I suddenly had cheek bones and I really liked them. Which was good, because my forehead, nose and teeth each provided more than enough material for self-criticism. I referred to my forehead as “four finger,” perceiving it to be billboard sized enormous. Bangs helped with that, hiding the size of my forehead and the new lines which had recently appeared. Cover that thing up!
Months essentially spent at home during this pandemic have altered my usual grooming practices. I think I’ve worn mascara less than a handful of times and lip color even less frequently than that. What’s the point when you’re putting a mask on anyway? My hair has been trimmed once since January and I have given up my own attempts at Covid cutting my own bangs, opting for a barrette to pull them out of my eyes as necessary.
Clipping my overgrown fringe off my face has revealed my forehead, wrinkles and all. But now, instead of finding it to be hideously oversized, it just looks like an inoffensive space between my eyes and my hair. Somehow it seems to fit in a way I never before perceived. It isn’t really humongous at all. As for the horizontal lines etched across my forehead, I’m getting used to those, too. After all, they’re evidence of a certain length of life and there’s no denying, it’s been a good one.
At last, I’ve grown accustomed to my face, forehead and all.