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Mirror, Mirror. Sunday May 28, 2017

Years ago,when I was a mere slip of a girl (around 50 say) I vowed that if I reached a certain age, I would Let Myself Go. I would stop having my roots done, go out without a face full of slap, stop squirting on a bit of perfume to go shopping.

Most of my planned surrender was based around food. Having once been very fat, I have maintained a slim, some say skinny, body by exercising iron self-control, and walking a lot. I've served my time for many years.

I decided I would continue with the walking, as I enjoy it. But the new diet-oh boy! Instead of spending many of my waking hours thinking about food, I would be stuffing my face with forbidden treats. This would be potent self-medication for anxiety and depression. Instead of gloomy ruminations, I would be busy planning the next feast.

The Gods have dealt me a cruel hand, very greedy, but self-conscious about my looks. Rich puddings, toast dripping with butter, and chocolate would join the daily Prozac. Instead of waking each morning with that vague sense of dread, dragging downstairs to breakfast on fresh fruit, I would spring out of bed, celebrate my Celtic roots, and get the pan out. After all, who cares if an old lady is rather portly. I could save a fortune on fillers and Botox, my own lardy padding would fill out the wrinkles very nicely, nature's own dermafiller.

When I ceased to care about appearances, became invisible, stopped getting the occasional glad eye from the opposite sex, I would feel liberated. My partner once failed to notice when I had a foot of hair cut off, so no problems there. He might moan that there was less room on the sofa, and wonder who this big grey-haired woman was who had moved in, and why his stash of biscuits had vanished, but he would soon adjust.

Then I reached the deadline, and found that even if nobody else cared, I did. Give it a few more years, perhaps I could stretch it out a bit longer. I blame mirrors, you can't get away from them. I blame Helen Mirren too, but mostly I blame mirrors. Years passed.
I gave myself an extension, no need to be too hasty. Just another year, then Wahay!!

So,forward to the present day. Off to get the highlights done, cursing the huge mirror at the hairdressers, composing my face before I look up. My neighbour is gardening in shorts, absorbed in the pleasure of her plants, varicose veins galore, bingo wings flapping. I am avidly reading the beauty blogs, counting calories, combing my hair and putting on blusher before signing for a parcel. I just can't let this wretched woman go.

A Moodscope user.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Molly Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 3:59am

Oh Valerie, I hate mirrors and I hate hairdressers. I think we need to just accept ourselves for who we are. I stopped getting my hair coloured a few years back. I want to say more but I am so tired. Blusher for the delivery? He really does not care, and neither should you. Love Molly xx p.s. stop reading those magazines, they are full of rubbish and selling techniques !!

Leah Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 5:35am

Dear Valerie,
I don't know whether to laugh or cry as I can relate to some of your thoughts.
I hope that with older age comes wisdom acceptance and accept I will never look like Helen Mirren. I have battled with my weight a lot of my life and even more so since taking medication.

To me life is too short to constantly worry about food.
It is not an all or nothing work out what you want, not actresses who have been photoshopped, not delivery men, not your partner, but work out what you Valerie want , who you want to be and enjoy.
Thanks for such an honest and touching blog. All the best.

Liz Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 7:36am

This is the first time in 4 years I've ever commented I think. I found this funny, eloquent, relatable (I'm 28...), heartening. You're a great writer!

Valerie Tue, May 30th 2017 @ 11:32am

Thanks Liz-hope this has broken the ice for you.It's good to know some things can unite women of all ages xx

Eva Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 8:17am

Just accept yourself, if only it were that easy! I too have these thoughts and ideas, and I sometimes get fed up with the constant maintenance. But sometimes it's just part of my routine.

For me I think it comes down to two things, adult acne, roseacea and self worth. The acne and roseacea I don't like, I don't want to look as though I've always just run for the bus...

The self worth? I got teased at school by some unkind girls who called me pizza face, a boy wrote that I was ugly as my primary characteristic, my dad used to comment on my acne, is that a nose on your spot? I grew up with a very self critical eye, and I can't let it go.

I've been trying to have make up free days during my fatigue time, but I don't usually manage.

However, I'm accepting where I am now, I need it to feel good, I've managed to cut it down a lot, to base, eyeliner, eyebrows and mascara, so I only do the full work up when I'm off socialising.

I'm going to keep my crazy hair cuts and colours as well, I'll be a crazy old lady with style!

Valerie Tue, May 30th 2017 @ 11:35am

Maybe I'm just very shallow,but my mental state is greatly affected by how I look.I don't think it will ever change.Have you had pink hair? Trying to pluck up the courage!

Orangeblossom Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 8:30am

Ahi Valerie, we all need the feel good factor, & if colouring your hair & applying make-up does this for you, perhaps you should go with the flow? My Mum used to colour her hair until five years ago. When she stopped, it was a dreadful shock to my system. She stopped due to illness. Now she just remains grey. It is a steely grey, fully reflecting her character & attitudes.

Orangeblossom Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 8:38am

Hi Valerie, I too identified with some of your blog. Self-acceptance is really difficult especially if you don't think others accept you or feel judged by your appearance. Learning to take a day at a time has been really helpful. Hope that you have a refreshing & 'Chilled out" week whatever form it takes.

Marmaladegirl Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 9:43am

Hi Valerie - Thank you for your blog! It made me laugh and it made me think. I remember turning thirty and people saying "Uh oh, the big three oh!" But now, marching through my fifties, I remember how youthful we all were when we were just in our thirties. Your opening line reminded me that when I am in, say, my seventies or eighties, I will look back at my fifties and remember how youthful I was! It's good to be reminded to appreciate NOW!

It is a beautifully written blog. You are obviously someone who is very lovely on the outside but also very talented and lovely on the inside too. The exterior may get a little worn, but your inner beauty will shine on forever Valerie!

All the best, MG

Valerie Tue, May 30th 2017 @ 11:37am

I promise you this,you will look back wistfully to your fifties.I now call people of your age "that girl/young chap" Enjoy!

Oli Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 9:52am

I enjoyed reading this Valerie. Well written. I like your insights.

The Gardener Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 10:10am

Dear Valerie - I wrote a blog on this theme in late April 'Targets and how to achieve them'. Being 'happy in yourself' seems unachievable - French say 'Good in your skin'. I hate shop windows more that mirrors. My creed? Self-esteem, not liking being beaten (have put on 7 kgs since Mr G started serious health problems - mostly drinking more - loads of calories without providing the necessary energy). Like clothes, too mean (and poor at the moment) to buy a new wardrobe in a size up. Not getting like my mother (dire warnings from our family doctor decades ago) - a very dodgy back (compared to a ruined Greek temple) which DOES not need more loading. I'm out of proportion, long legs, short waist - weight on bust and I'm top heavy - wearing anything belted is just a badly wrapped parcel. Marmalade girl, I wear the same clothes at 80+ that I wore at 50 - the only time I've got down to a size 12 was after some frightful bug acquired in Far East or India - that's cheating, and the weight goes on quickly once OK again.

The Gardener Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 10:14am

Eva, do you know the poem 'When I am old I shall wear purple' etc. Orangeblossom, I think your Mum's wise. Every so often I colour my hair - but it only seems to draw attention to the very stressed face underneath it - keep to white, do it well - always up, use my hair ornaments - find some time, and relax! Not much to ask for, is it?

Angela Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 10:28am

You ALL inspire me to cope! Thank you Valerie for your insightful blog :) On a bad/down day I think & feel 58 going on 90 :/

Lexi Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 1:48pm

Loved your blog Valerie! You are a gifted writer. I won't do plastic surgery or anything drastic but as long as I can still pay someone to pluck my hairs and dye my roots I'm doing it :) I have lost the self consciousness about going to the store with no makeup on, but I won't be going there in sweatpants either. So perhaps a gradual letting go for me. :)

LH Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 6:23pm

This blog left me feeling sad and weary on so many levels
Wishing you peace Valerie

Valerie Tue, May 30th 2017 @ 11:41am

Sorry LH.Hope you feel better today x

Sheena Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 9:16pm

Oh Valerie! So many truths beautifully expressed. I can only add that a non makeup friend recalled suggesting to a made up friend of hers that the made up friend was vain to wear makeup every day. The reply was "Surely you must be the vain one to think that you are fine without it!" It's good to try and keep well and to respect that others do have to see us but there again: do others look any better than they generally listen, even when they hear? At last I realise we must look after ourselves for ourselves. Best wishes Sheena

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Mon, May 29th 2017 @ 12:15am

Exactly! Carolinex

Molly Mon, May 29th 2017 @ 6:18am

I would love to wear make up, but it just does not suit me, I hope that does not make me vain. I don't particularly like my face in the mirror but make up does not work for me plus I have a skin problem but sorry if I am missing the point.

the room above the garage Sun, May 28th 2017 @ 11:57pm

I can recognise both the women in your writing Valerie! She is not a wretched woman, she's just trying to find balance. I think she has! I really like how you wrote it, thank you! Love ratg x.'

Nicco Mon, May 29th 2017 @ 11:15pm

Thank you for your blog, Valerie. It reminded me of that poem, 'When I am old I shall wear purple...' I was blissfully embracing my figure, not minding about the few pounds I'd gained & still feeling fairly good about myself, until tragedy struck... I found out my husband had been having an affair since January, and I found out who with. We have worked things out as best we can. Thing is, I can't help but feel inferior to her but at the same time I'm not in the least motivated to do anything about how I look, instead I sit around all day, having given up even the small amount of exercise I did, not bothering to wash or dress as I have no energy to do so, instead focusing more and more on food & watching my waistband getting bigger, not wanting to go anywhere, do anything, see anyone, or have anyone see me. I know I have to break this cycle soon and, to do so, I need to find some enthusiasm for life again but, just at the moment, I'm grieving. I'm wondering, however, how much is grief and how much is wallowing in pain. It's hard, when down in the pit, to pull oneself up again. I know 'this, too, will pass' and I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later. I think my next trip to the hairdressers will be a more adventurous one as 'a change is as good as a rest', as they say.

Valerie Tue, May 30th 2017 @ 11:50am

Oh Nico,what a rotten time you have had.I can't imagine anyone feeling motivated after having such a blow.I am wondering if your husband is beating himself up for the damage he has done to the marriage and your self-respect.I don't care how many pounds you had gained,it would not justify cheating on you.Does he still keep himself in great shape,and if not, would he blame himself and be forgiving if you had an affair? It's not just up to you to mend things, if they ever can be mended. x

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