This Is My Face and I'll Pull One if I Want to

Caroline de Braganza

(Image by FOTOKALDE from Pixabay)

It’s hard to accept the inevitable approach of advancing years, but pulling faces at the mirror is my saving grace.

Looking younger than my age was a blessing, so my 40s and 50s presented no dilemma in confronting my visage. (Though in my teens it was difficult convincing adults I was sweet sixteen, not twelve!)

“Childhood is the time in your life when you make faces in a mirror. Middle age is when the mirror gets even.”—Mickey Mansfield.

Getting even only began when I turned 60.

I avoided peering too closely. Sidelong glances were the best I could manage because I felt 25 inside—I still do—and that’s what I wanted to see when I looked at me.

Being short-sighted helped. I mean, who wears their glasses in the bathroom or bedroom? Fuzzy images blurred the lines.

I was in a state of denial.

Letting the truth gain traction

I knew I would have to take action.

I couldn’t continue yearning for the impossible—a younger body and face.

My first step was to become a proud, mature woman with grey hair. Seeing the likes of Helen Mirren, Dame Judi Dench, Diane Keaton and Jamie-Lee Curtis, with their gorgeous natural tresses, gave me courage.

So, at 65, I took the plunge and let my grey hair grow out. It took a good nine months, but a new me emerged—no more blondie!

Arriving home at the complex where we lived after the final chop, I bumped into our neighbour Mihlali, a young African woman. Glamorous, tall, slender - who ran a fashion boutique.

The first thing she said to unsophisticated me was, “That look’s so cool—so sexy! Your hair is stunning.”

Spontaneous praise from someone decades younger was my first step in accepting my biological age.

I could look in the mirror and admire my grey hair!

As we age, we become children again

I loved pulling faces when I was a kid.

Especially at my reflection. Giggles galore as I pulled and twisted eyes, lips, cheeks, tongue. To this day, I can still wiggle my right ear and lift my right eyebrow!

And I never bought into the grown-ups’ admonition, “If the wind changes your face will stay like that!”

A couple of years ago I began doing mirror work as I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life after forcible retirement. I created my formula of the best of Louise Hay and Marisa Peer that worked for me.

Instead of focussing on those lines, the sagging cheeks and bonus chin, I’d look into my eyes and say, “I love you, you matter, you are significant, you are capable, you are enough, you are loveable,” in no particular order and repeat those words often.

I guess they’re partly to blame for my becoming a writer!

Finding the funny

Having got used to admiring my grey locks and convincing myself I’m okay, life’s incomplete without laughter.

I’ve become a child again, pulling faces in the mirror. I’m not pulling your leg.

Though in deference to the loss of skin elasticity, I no longer stretch my cheeks with my fingers—just in case the wind changes.

Honestly, I see nothing wrong with exercising my facial muscles and cracking up with laughter.

What an entertaining method to reduce stress and build up my immune system when the current global situation demands it.

I’ve learned to love my life lines

“I love you just the way you are” is a line that comes to mind from Billy Joel.

Rummaging through old photos of a younger me or seeing my Self reflected as I am today, I don’t hanker for the past or make comparisons.

This is me. I’m still here.

My soul winks at me from behind my eyes and my heart dances.

“When I look back on my life, I see pain, mistakes and heart ache. When I look in the mirror, I see strength, learned lessons, and pride in myself.”- Ritu Ghatourey.

I couldn’t have said it better.

Final thoughts

As for rating myself on a scale of 1-10, maybe I’ll tell you when I’m eighty. That gives me a decade to decide! I’m in no hurry.

In the meantime,

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you.” - Walt Whitman.

But don't forget the sunscreen!

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.


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