Mere, or?

Daily Prompt The Mirror Crack’d You wake up one morning to a world without mirrors. How does your life — from your everyday routines to your perception of yourself — change? (Thanks for suggesting this thought-provoking prompt, Chocolate Eyes!)

My life would not change at all if there were no mirrors. I might have the only female bedroom in America NOT belonging to a Quaker, Amish, Mennonite or Hutterite woman that does not have a mirror. I look in my bathroom mirror a couple times a day to see if I will scare small children if I venture out. That’s it.

It isn’t a new development. Years and years and years ago when I was a little kid in school I read a story about Quaker pilgrims and how little girls were raised without mirrors so they would grow up without vanity over something absolutely vain, external beauty. It was a story in our school reader in second grade, I think. clearly, it left an impression on me. My mom — having been raised by that backslid Mennonite, my grandmother — had to fight for her freedom to wear makeup.

As a young woman — girl, teenager — I was very interested in the way I looked and my bedroom mirror got a lot of attention. I think it’s normal. We — at that point in our lives — are driven by the biological imperative to mate, and it’s very important to us to be sure that we have what it takes to attract a mate. We worry about how we’re going to stack up against the competition. The thing is, we can never really know that. The members of the opposite sex (to whom we’re driven) are not all attracted to the same thing. Every pot has a lid, they say.

Back in the day (late 70s) I also had a good friend who was a fashion model. She was 5’9′ and very slender and pretty (of course). Not a famous fashion model, but, you know, one of those local fashion models. On weekends she often did runway work or modeled in a department store like the Denver Dry. One day we were walking out of our office to get on the elevator and I was bewailing the fact that no matter what, I am a short, stocky person, even when I’m thin. I have short legs and a large chest and so on and so forth. Of course, Kim Kardasshian has redeemed my body type, but that is a bit late for me. I never knew anyone ever thought a big butt was hot.  AnyWHO, Jan and I were walking through the bank, having deposited our paychecks, and I said, “I don’t know. I just wish I had long legs and all that, like you. I feel so ugly.”

“Martha,” she said. “Stop it. You’re far from ugly. Just look at it this way. People don’t get sick when they see you.”

I laughed so hard, and that’s been my test ever since. If it ever happens that people get sick at the sight of me,  or kids start screaming instead of reaching for me, I’ll worry. That’s my mirror.

20 thoughts on “Mere, or?

  1. This is a beautiful story. And your friend was not only beautiful outside, but wise and beautiful inside, which is more important. Thank you.

  2. It is entirely ridiculous the way we moan and bleat about ourselves – if only to ourselves, most of the time. When I saw my hair in the bathroom mirror while sitting on the loo, this-morning, I said aloud “OK, that’s it: we’re off to find a barber today ,,,”
    I do have to use the mirror to get earrings in and out. As to why I wear earrings, it’s because Stringer gave me lots – he knew I loved them. And he didn’t care that I was so VERY seldom anywhere near the perception of beautiful; my avoirdupois was a nought to him.
    Never needed a mirror when he was here; don’t need one now.

    • I think one of the greatest mirrors we ever have is the eyes of our beloved. Sounds like you were very lucky to have had a mirror like Stringer. I have had some men love me over the years, and my reflection in their eyes was wonderful, but just as special was the way Brownie the pinto quarterhorse saw me or the way some of my dogs have seen me and kids and friends. Those are mirrors that reflect not just what we look like (backwards) but who we are.

  3. I have just begun to read your work and I find your posts captivating. Reading this post it felt like I was visiting with a good friend.

  4. One of my daughters was a model. Men either stayed away in droves, too terrified to approach, or treated her as a bimbo and a handbag. None of them wanted to know that she’s also intelligent, funny, perceptive, caring, and completerly lacking in vanity. You can’t win, really.

    • I learned YEARS later (like 30?) that I was a beautiful young girl. I learned through all those years of teaching that all the young girls think there’s something wrong with them. And I learned that pretty and smart = terrifying for young guys. Treating your daughter as a bimbo and a handbag was a way to “defang” her. It’s awful and you can’t win. I don’t think even the guys win.

    • Yeah — I was afraid the person about whom it was written would read it… I just didn’t feel like getting into that.

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