Reflections on my reflection
Mirror mirror on the wall… For the first time today I decided to count the mirrors in my home. There are six hanging on walls, one in my handbag inside a compact case, one freestanding on my dressing table. There May be others that have escaped my census. Why are there so many ‘looking glasses’ in my home? Is this a normal mirror quota I wonder? I also have my phone, often used as a lens to check my hair is in place and my mascara where it should be. It does seem awfully vain to have so many items in my home that have the main purpose of reflecting back my image.
Having what would be described by most as a largish new facial scar you would imagine I would be all up for ignoring the mirrors. This hasn’t been the case this week. My relationship with my skin has been tumultuous over the years. During my teenage years bad acne sketched a map of red bumps and blisters across my cheeks and chins. I managed a couple of blissful skin problem free years before rosacea came to stay as my new unwelcome guest. Most recently, this week, I have had surgery on a Basal Cell Carcinoma that has kept re-emerging in the middle of my forehead. With my acne and rosacea I found avoiding mirrors the best way forward . With this new scar – I seem to have more easily accepted the new version of my face.
What I do find irritating is the suggestion that I will wear this scar as a ‘badge of honour’ for ‘fighting cancer.’ I am a big champion for being sun-safe and a willing advocate for skin checks and informing others about skin cancer. However, I have not been in any kind of battle with my cancer. Cancer came, surgery got it cut out. This scar will tell a story and will certainly be a talking point, but I will not wear it is a badge.
Equally irritating is the idea that I should try and quickly find ways to hide this scar. It can be a difficult world to live in, where we are seemingly constantly under the microscope for one thing or another. Having something that makes us physically stand out from others, this feeling can be exacerbated. There is such a massive emphasis in our society on being ‘normal.’ And normal tends to mean a (literally) filtered version of ourselves – smooth skin, no blemishes or bumps. But even without my scar I am unique and different. We all are. There is so much strength and empowerment that can be drawn from our differences.
The thing is we are all mirrors too. What we share online tells a story too. When we try and filter out the perceived flaws we amplify the message that the only acceptable version of ourselves is the one that is a carbon copy of everyone else. We help add to the narrative that only looking a certain way is okay. And that is not okay at all.