mirrors

Posted on October 24, 2011

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Any reflective surface from shop windows to fridge doors provides crucial feedback to a teenage girl on how she looks and who she is becoming. For a mother in mid-life every mirror offers the same terrifying perspective and needs to be turned to the wall. Sags, bulges and wrinkles become enlarged to horror show proportions.

 I definitely have the reverse affliction to your average semi-anorexic girl who looks into a mirror and thinks she is fat (even though she could probably squeeze herself under the crack in the front door like the mice who will be invading any day now as temperatures drop). I look into the mirror and convince myself that I am at least three dress sizes smaller than I really am. I can never believe that I am actually THAT fat until I see myself in a photograph. So then I think I should slap photographs of myself on the fridge door but that is an even more horrifying thought. Denial works in mysterious ways.

 What we forget is that teenage girls feel just as insecure when they look into the mirror. Which is why they do it all of the time. They don’t just do it to annoy us. They want to make sure they still exist. They want to check whether that spot it still there or that skirt could get any shorter. They want to try out clothes and images like small kids riffling through the dressing up box. It is fun but it is also crucial to establishing who they are as their bodies change with the speed of light, and whether or not boys are going to like them.

 Middle aged mothers do the same – with hold it all in knickers, push up bras and well cut clothes as they shift up a gear and begin to become invisible in the crowd. The big question though is are we grown up enough not to mind? So it was with great relish that I went with a bunch of other mothers my age to see JUMPY – April de Angelis’s new play at The Royal Court last week. AT LAST there is writing out there which speaks to women in mid life with teenage daughters. We laughed like drains. I just have one major quibble. This play spoke to women my age but not to our daughters, for once again we had a teenager depicted as a stereotype and not as a real person struggling with so many of the issues we face as women throughout our lives. For we are mirror images of each other. It is only once we can get beyond those stereotypes that we can begin to help them, as women. And boy do they need us.

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