How vain are you? I only ask because lately I have been spending an enormous amount of time staring at myself in the mirror. My face is suddenly beginning to look a little bit, how to put it, unexpected. A bit unfamiliar. And I find myself thinking, “Hold on a second, have I always looked like this?”
There’s the strange nodule on my nose – how long has that been there? The way several of my teeth seem to be folding in – were they always so crooked? And the soft down that has appeared all over my cheeks – was there always so much of it? Why is it only now that I can see it? Maybe it’s because of the new lighting in the bathroom. Maybe.
And I go on. Has my skin always been this uneven? Have my pores always been so large? And then I panic, because I genuinely can’t remember if these tiny, little flaws are new or not. Worse still, I keep staring at the mirror, like Snow White’s wicked stepmother, hoping that the mirror will answer my questions. (Am I talking to it yet? Won’t be long…)
I haven’t always been this obsessed with my looks. For years I didn’t even have a full-length mirror, and, in fact, I only had a mirror in my flat because it made the living room look bigger. This new “vanity” is a departure. It’s a new bit of my story, this brutal narrative I am reading on my face. And just when I get vaguely used to each new plot twist – inverted tooth, smattering of hair, dark patch – I catch sight of something else entirely. My mother. SURPRISE!