Miranda Sawyer
 
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Miranda Sawyer
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What I See When I Look In The Mirror

What I See When I Look In The Mirror
A 44 year old woman, is what I see. Red magazine wanted me to expand

It’s rare, these days, that I parade semi-naked anywhere other than my bedroom. I don’t like to scare the postman. But if I were to get out my so-called bikini body (hem hem) on a beach overlooked by The Female Figure Nazis of The Daily Mail, there is no doubt that it would be judged as severely lacking. My defects include: fallen knees, droopy tits, bumpy thighs, cracked heels, badly applied fake tan and a sticky-outy belly button. And that’s before we get to my face. There are lines on it! Not just the deep ones around my mouth, but strange ones that crinkle upwards from my nose, spider-web from my eyebrows. Plus my eyes appear to be receding, my cheeks are becoming pillowy, and lone hairs spring up like happy weeds, waving at me from under my chin.
How much does this worry me? Not much. For a start, I live in Great Britain. It’s rare that I need to display anything more than my calves, my arms and my head. And as long as my haircut is sharp, then – I feel – the head bit is fairly sorted. Slap on some tinted moisturiser, eye-liner and mascara, a spot of bronzer, and away we go. Sure, my skin was better in my early 20s. But back then, noone was admiring my skin: they couldn’t get past the bright red lipstick, the bleached blonde bob, and the primary-coloured outfits. Ah yes, the Andy Pandy-meets-Andy Warhol years. I blame rave.
If I was being self-critical, I’d say I look better now, but not as good as I did in my early 30s. But over time, I’ve realised that obsessing about your appearance is a thorough-going, spirit-crushing waste of time. Noone can change their body, not fundamentally. I could diet and exercise every moment of the day: my legs wouldn’t lengthen, I wouldn’t stop getting older. Also, picking yourself apart – judging yourself on small, broken-up bits of who you are, rather than the whole, complicated being – is the way to madness. You don’t look at other people like that, so why do it to you?
There are other factors: I have small children (5 and 9 months), so I don’t have much time. As a rule, if I’m going out, there will be 15 minutes to get ready: so that’s ten minutes to get dressed and sort out a smaller handbag, and then five on make-up. This isn’t necessarily an age thing, it’s just the way I am: I’ve never been that bothered about getting glammed up. The look I want is more casual, less ‘done’. Sharp lines, simple shapes, a bit sportif, a bit 60s, nothing too girly. And because that’s my taste, then the lifted, botoxed, blow-dried, stick-insect-in-Chanel style has never appealed. I want to look cooler than that, if I’m honest. Smarter. Tougher.
And as I get older, the main thing that matters to me about my body is that it works. So, I don’t smoke or take drugs any more. I don’t drink that much. I try to walk to where I want to go, or cycle. I consider myself extremely lucky that I haven’t had a serious illness, that I’ve been able to have kids and that they have been born healthy, that if I ask my body to do something, generally, it will do it. So, yes, there are occasions when I look in our full-length mirror and I sigh. I grab bits of my thighs and I pull them back, I hoik my tits up and suck in my stomach. But then I put on my bra and knickers, my jeans and my top, and I get on with the day ahead.