I would like to announce that at this stage of life, in the waning-est of my forties, I no longer give a shit about my appearance. But it would be a falsity. A “fake announcement.” A fantasy. I spend too much time and money seeking hair colors and styles that are as flattering as they are low-maintenance (still searching); I worry about the creases on my forehead –which surely only deepens the crevices– as I compare my forehead to all other foreheads; and I very rarely leave home without makeup. Being concerned about my appearance is so boring. It’s the most boring thing about me. And it’s the most boring thing about Journal Books Two and Three. I cannot believe how much time I spent worrying about my appearance as a twenty-three-year-old when I had ALL THAT COLLAGEN!, and WORSE how much paper I used up describing my worries. Examples:
“I look awful… I don’t know what I’m stressing about, but it’s showing up on my face.”
“I have to go work out, but I literally don’t want to show my face to anyone.”
“I hate the way I look without make-up, but I hate to put makeup on to work out. I’m being dumb.”
Seeing these old insecurities on the page is so annoying. This is how it goes: Younger Me is so annoying! Am I that annoying? OMG, I’m so annoying! There is so much more to life!
Reading so much self-deprecation is a colossal waste of time and I can’t help thinking that writing so much self-deprecation was too.
On the other hand, Younger Me was dumping her thoughts in those pages. An exorcism. So she could walk through her days without them.
And where else could she put those demons?
She certainly wouldn’t tell you.
She wanted you to believe she was fearless.
And you did.
I know you did because I was there when you told her.
That she was brave
She was confident
She always lands on her feet
You told her she had high self-esteem!
That her confidence was sexy!
Before my journaling years, when I was a pre-teen, my sister used to piss me off by saying, “You’re vain,” (and to everyone else) “Ginna’s vain; all she does is look in mirrors.” She was partially right. I was always looking in mirrors. But not because I was admiring my own appearance. I looked into mirrors because I knew there were endless imperfections that I should fix. The shape of my hair, or the way my shirt fit, or –fucking fuck- all those zits!
I catch myself doing this even now. In a city of reflections, I am always aware of what I look like and it’s never good enough. I am equally aware of how beautiful the twenty-three-year-olds look . . . no matter their shapes or sizes; no matter if they are coated in make-up, tattoos, or flashy apparel. They are all types; all they have in common is that they are young. And the hardest part about passing them on the street or subway is that –much like 23-Me– I fear they don’t know their beauty! I worry what they are saying to their reflections. So I say to them (silently of course; you don’t want to startle young women) “You’re beautiful. Oh my god, you’re so beautiful!” and I hope that my silent compliments somehow get through.
So there's that
And also . . .
You wouldn’t believe the mean things I say silently about my own middle-aged reflection. I mean, I am right here! I can hear you, SELF! One of the most common phrases that I think when I see my reflection is “Potato Face.”
Yes. “Potato Face.” And sometimes:
“My face looks like dog food.”
Creative insults, at least.
I don’t know where I come up with them.
I would never say these things about anyone else.
My friend Jen (Ohio Jen, I should specify because I was born in 1974 and so there are many Jens) suggested once, “What if time isn’t linear?” And (I am paraphrasing here) “if that’s the case, then wouldn’t it be nice that when we think of our younger (troubled) selves, instead of berating them or feeling shame, we just close our eyes and try to reach through time to wherever they are and send them some love?”
Isn’t that lovely? Thank you, Ohio Jen.
So now, when I come upon my 25-year-old written self-deprecation I’m going to do that. When I read her very boring statements about her appearance, I will acknowledge that the words are annoying, but then I’m going to send her some love. Encourage her to fill her pages with something creative instead.
the experience I’m having
of writing this today
is the effect
reaching out to me
here in 2023
"You don’t have to do this anymore. The mirrors, the insults. You’re 49 and you’re cool. We’re cool. There is more to us than skin and size and hairdos.
You’re beautiful. Oh my god, you’re so beautiful.
Now go write something of substance."
Other Content of Note:
The small early acting successes I had came when, as I put it “my instincts were on track.”
I had a serious boyfriend and during this time in 1997, we were discussing our engagement. I began to suspect he had purchased an engagement ring for me. I’ll probably downplay how much I wrote about Mike because, to me, the relationship remains complicated and unresolved. Alisa Ledyard suggested the following about this blogging endeavor: “I hope you give us the *gOoD* entries. The Real Good entries. Past drama about people we’ll never meet and the like, haha.” (How’m I doing so far, Alisa?)
Our family cat kept me company when I journaled. “A fine companion,” I wrote of her, “my little buddy.” I miss Kitty so much.
I wrote out dreams that I was having about my deceased sister. She’d been dead only a little more than a year. I miss Katie so much.