As I was pouring through the old photos of my lovely Mum at various ages and stages, I started to think, Wouldn’t it be great to get up every morning and, while brushing our teeth, look in the mirror and love what we see. I know we have touched on this subject before, but doing The Cousins Project has made me see the progression of this. As I have looked at pictures of my youngest, younger, young self and that of my loved ones, the same thing struck me over and over. I had an epiphany.
It is this: We are not young and then old. We are simply young. Always young. Because when we see ourselves in the mirror, we are always younger than we are about to be. Does this make sense?
What I guess I mean is that we are always younger, yet we categorize ourselves from infant to senior. And yet, even as a senior we are younger. Hope I haven’t lost you yet. Barb’s quantum physics has finally kicked in I guess!
So what I am saying, is that we should love the way our young self looks, even if that young self is fifty-seven years old. After all, as soon as we walk away from the mirror we are older by seconds, then minutes, days, months, years. God willing, we will look back at our 80th birthday photos when we are 90 and say, “Wow, I had it going on!” I mean, even at 90 we are younger right? We are younger than we are about to be. So maybe we should love up the young us at all ages!
Doing The Cousins Project, three pictures stuck me. Two of them were of Granny, the first at her 80th birthday and the second at her 87th. The difference in Granny in those two pictures absolutely blew my mind. The change in her in those 7 years astounded me. And it dawned on me that, unlike my Mum and myself, my Granny never disparaged her looks. When she was dressed up for a party or event, I think she was happy with the way she looked. I don’t think she would have had to glance back from the future to be happy with her present self. I think she looked in the mirror and liked what she saw. What a gift, I thought, and I envied her for it.
The third picture was of me in my 20’s. It’s a candid picture my Dad took and I only saw it for the first time when I started the project. Me in a cowboy hat and 80’s shorts jumpsuit, and I was struck by how lovely I thought it was. Then I harkened back to that time. I had just dyed my hair black as I was not happy with the brown or blonde me, and didn’t think I was pretty or cute or interesting looking and needed a change. It seemed to me then that I had a million different reasons to criticize myself. Then I saw that photo and ... what the hell was I thinking!?! It is so sad that I was not loving that Deb. What is so bad about liking and loving ourselves? When did we decide that was a bad thing? We are all perfect in our way and we sorely need to start seeing it in ourselves before we piss it away. I look at little kid Deb and think, “When? When did the first doubt creep in? What picture was it? What black and white image contained the moment I first thought I was less than I could be?”
And I pondered it and figured, What’s done is done. But in honour of all my past Deb’s that I dissed, I am looking in the mirror and loving what I see. All fifty-almost-eight! years of me. I will not wait ‘till eighty to look at Today Deb and say, “What a babe!”
Barbara: Yup. I get it. Maybe we all do. Well, maybe with the exception of your darling Granny. I haven’t gone through and organized old photos like you have, Deb—and I would like to one day!—but I absolutely remember seeing pics of myself over the years and cringing. And those are the pics that come to mind whenever anyone holds a camera to my face: “Oh, not that angle, that makes my chin look double”, “Nope, not that one, that emphasizes the bags under my eyes”, “God forbid I look serious in a photo—I look like a furious manic-depressive”. And I also know I’ve looked back at older photos and I haven’t seen double chins or eye-bags or frowns, but have only seen the sweetness of that day—whatever that moment was that was special enough to prompt someone to pull out the camera and decide to commemorate.
As you said, Deb, we’ve talked about this before, but dammit, we gotta keep reminding ourselves to get over ourselves and embrace the beautiful us of us!