A few weeks ago, in the midst of the holiday shopping rush, as my husband and I hurried through the mall to get to another engagement, I was stopped by a pleasant young woman working at one of those little middle of the walkway kiosks.
Too polite to decline, I took the moisturizer sample she offered and then listened patiently as she jumped into her sales spiel. She reeled me in by commenting on how nice my skin is—a compliment I nearly choked on as my complexion has been as unruly as a stressed out adolescent’s since I was ten years old—but then she immediately snatched away any good rapport she’d built by asking me a simple question: “Don’t you care about your eyes?”
Now, more than a little annoyed, I told her we needed to go, but she kept talking, scolding me for the lines and dark circles that were the result of my apparent devil-may-care attitude, while dabbing on some magical cream that was supposed to erase the existence of both.
The situation brought forth a swift and total recall of a similar event from several years back, complete with shame and humiliation. In that instance, a gentleman who was selling some supposedly pain-free hair removal product from a booth at the state fair grabbed my hand as I walked by, raised my arm, and announced loudly to anyone within earshot that he’d just found a baby gorilla.
As it turned out, his product was in fact pain-free—as I was again too polite (or dumbstruck) to decline his request to test it on my gorilla-like arm—but his decision to compare me to a hairy primate was not. He, like the woman at the mall, like society in general sometimes, was banking on this being enough of an insecurity for me that I would throw money at him as if to say, “Yes! This part of me is not perfect, please fix it!”
Neither of them were wrong. Like anyone, there are plenty of features about myself that I do indeed loathe and that do, at times, rattle my confidence. And there are more, it seems, with each passing birthday—a new line here, a broken capillary there—and when they pop up, I am tempted by those types of sales pitches. Those claims of instantaneous improvement and remarkable reversals and astonishing alterations.
But as the days fly by, I get used to seeing that new blemish in the mirror, and I realize that just like those that came before, it has become a part of me. Not a flaw to be fixed but a badge to behold, and given the opportunity, I would go back and say that to the woman at the mall. In response to her question, I would tell her that yes, I do care about my eyes. I do care about each of those itty bitty lines that surrounds them because I earned every single one.
I earned them with every squinty-eyed smile and with every squinched up look into the beautiful bright sunshine. They are permanent proof of laughter and everlasting evidence of life. And I can’t imagine why I would ever want to erase that.