When you look at yourself in the mirror, your brain smooths out the reflection for you. It automatically smears Vaseline over the lens of your mind and what you see is familiar, workable, fine.

Every woman carries a gauzy camera lens and soft lighting in the toolbox of her mind.

But then those surprises. Tagged in Facebook against your will, or reviewing digital photos that somehow made it past the delete button. You are not prepared for those. They can be real shockers. 

This morning I tossed another pair of jeans up into the back top of the closest. Not comfortable. Pinching my waist and  doughing up a muffin top that pushed out my shirt. Ah, I think. So what. These never were too comfortable anyway. Who cares? 

But fat and fate compound. There was the little kindergarten newsletter I’d not looked at for all of spring break. I should have, because I knew Gus and I were in it. It was our attempt to make up for not having volunteered all year at the charter school. We went to LE’s class to do balloon rockets and hoop gliders with them. I remember dressing that day, comfortable, flowing, stylish. 

I felt good enough that I said to LE’s teacher, as she scrambled over desks to get good shots with her camera, “Hey! If any of those pictures make me look cute put them on Facebook!”

None of them ever made it to Facebook, just to the newsletter. In that picture, I am standing sideways, shapeless, and I am an impossible girth. I don’t want to look like that because it doesn’t match my head. It’s incongruent. It’s not correct. Does that make sense?

In my head…..
In the newsletter 

And I’m tired. And sweating. And loathe to bend over.

I never move, you see. I have no need to. I can go a week only moving around my tiny house, with most of each day spent sitting right here. I don’t even daily walk to my car. 

I don’t have a strong string to cinch closed this post with. “And now I will CHANGE! Abracadabra I have UNDONE an entire life’s habits and comforts and am BRAND NEW.” No. I don’t believe in that. 

All I believe in today is purposefully playing catch with my daughter, even though it’s tedious and physically uncomfortable. And purposefully giving my husband the big piece of chocolate even though it would give me 12 seconds of utter euphoria. Because that’s who I am in my head. That’s who I feel comfortable being.

Although part of me really, really wants to be her.

2 thoughts on “FORGOT THE VASELINE

  1. Ah, yes – the gauzy camera lens, and the soft lighting. They exist in my mind as well. I seriously can not remember the last time I willingly posed for a picture. And when one is inadvertently snapped and finds its way onto facebook, I am immediately filled with shame and disbelief. “That isn’t me!”

    I’ve lost about 60 pounds in the past year-and-a-half, but I have a long way to go (and I still hate looking in mirrors). I’m not sure my hatred of mirrors will dissolve even if I lose 60 more pounds, because the “I hate mirrors” story has become a fundamental part of what defines me – like a tic, or an invisible friend.

    Maybe I’ll make one of those “I’m fat. Fuck off shirts” and wear it in your honor.

    Thanks for this. It made me think.


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