Every now and then, when occasion arises, you sort of have to face the fact that on occasion you have to look…at your face. Not just glance at it in the mirror and casually observe that, yes, you have been wandering around with jam on your cheek, not just check to see if your specs are on your conk because you can’t find them anywhere else, but really take stock of what you’ve got going on in the General Visage Area.
There are times when you want to poke your tongue out at yourself in disgust. When you feel glum and dissatisfied with what you’ve got. And there are times when you don’t mind it. Your face. Like when you pop to the loo after kissing someone you like and you catch the flush of colour in your cheeks. That’s pretty nice. Because it’s evidence of happiness, exhilaration. Sometimes it’s nice to catch yourself smiling; to take stock and realise: “I am…happy.”
It’s not generally the done thing to stare at your own face for too long as it usually means you’re a narcissistic vain twit who needs a ruddy good punch. But it does seem apt that when we find ourselves in front of a mirror it’s usually when we’re alone in the bathroom, during our most private moments. It’s the best time to look at our reflection, reflect, and while performing the perfunctory checks that we dress up lightly as cosmetic ablutions, actually candidly consider not ‘how do I look?’, but ‘how do I feel?’
I had a horrid moment in the mirror the other day when I thought my hairline might be receding. Then I realised my ponytail was just wonky. Phew. But in the moments between intense follicular panic and huge sighing relief I did it; I performed the almost surgical inventory of my outer being. MAKE A LIST, SADIE; WHAT ELSE DO YOU HATE ABOUT THE MASS OF CONTOURED CELLS WHACKED ON THE FRONT OF YOUR CRANIUM?
There were the eyebrows that are scarily like my father’s if not kept in check. There was my John Travolta chin. STUPID CHIN. There were the concentration burrows in my forehead that make me wonder if Boots do own-brand Botox. There’s the tooth I don’t remember chipping. The mole that’s a bit bigger than it was. The pale blue eyes that always seem like dull puddles without mascara. The ski-slope nose that still pangs with junior school jeers. The little lines gathering in my corners like the pages of a book read more than once. The beginnings of changes that will ring in older ages, the warning bells of a greater dissatisfaction with this silly old face.
But there also were the eyebrows that are like my Dad’s. Hello Dad. The nose like my Mum’s. Hello Mum. There were the genetic gifts, the remembrances of people I’ll never meet. There were the imprints of kisses. There were the bits that the people who love me look at while they’re loving me. That’s pretty nice.
We sort of have to make friends with our faces, don’t we? No matter which one we’ve got. Take our quiet moments and use them to be kind to ourselves; make peace with the future of our faces, of our bodies in general, before it happens and hope to squish our self-consciousness before it assaults us with manifold discontent. Our faces are the foyers, the welcome mats, the armchairs, the open hearths for all the company we keep, for all the love we’re lucky to have. And you should sort of make the effort to respect that a bit.
Even if yours is covered in jam and showing you up in public.