She had a love- hate relationship with her reflection in the mirror. Today she stood there all 58 years and naked as the day she was born. She couldn’t believe the extra fullness of her hips, the bigger curve of her breasts and the smooth thickness of her thighs. Her body had changed so much over the years and not for the better in her opinion. Over the years she had a child. The scare below her belly button proved that. Her pants size was all she needed as a reminder that she had eaten too many plates of pasta. Her wrinkles and laugh lines in her face were evidence of pain and joy.
What had happened to that young woman she used to be? This can’t be her standing here right now looking at pockets of fat, wrinkles, lines and scars that had taken over her body. The weight of a stranger was looking back at her. The weight of the pandemic taunted her but not the pandemic of the world, the pandemic within her heart and soul. The pandemic she had been fighting within herself for years. She loved herself for many more years than she disliked herself.
The years she was growing up and her figure was developing as a young girl. She loved herself then. She loved the fullness of her hips and the developing breasts and wondered if she was going to have a figure like her mom. She loved the tallness of her mom and her mom’s wirily legs and arms. Especially the arms which used to hold her tight at night when she had a nightmare and hugged her long and hard on her first day of school. Her mom’s incredibly blue eyes which always told her everything she wanted to know. One look told her she was going to be okay or she was in big trouble. She loved the glow of her mom’s brown skin when she got out of the pool on hot summer days. She loved her mom’s neck and they way the pearls hung just barely touching her cleavage when she dressed up.
Casey wanted a body like her mom when she grew up and she wanted it to stay the same all the time. That was the dream of a 13 year old who was more than a little naïve. That little girl didn’t know that life would happen and neither her life nor her body would stay the same. Her long thin legs would develop muscles from her joy of biking in her teen years and those same legs would get fuller and non muscular in her twenties when she gave up bike riding and started bus riding every day to work. Her smooth thin arms would forever be scared when she would burn herself making pizza for her friends. She contemplated getting a tattoo to cover her scar but decided that scar was a badge of honor. It showed the world that she had cooked and wasn’t a perfect cook. That scar was a story she would tell her future kids and grandkids one day.
Casey's reflection changed over the years. When she was in her 20’s and 30’s walking by a store window and seeing the reflection of herself on the glass was such a marvelous sight in her eyes. She would often stand there and straighten her skirt or brush off her pants. She would check herself out like she was going on a date with herself. She would fix her lipstick. She would smile. She knew she was beautiful.
Looking at herself now she wondered where all that beauty had gone. Did someone take it like a thief and she hadn’t even noticed? How can that be? She had looked in the mirror every day and she saw her beauty. She saw her outer beauty and felt her inner beauty. But, today was different. Her reflection was different. In the blink of an eye she had turned into this old fat lady. The old lady stared at her and she didn’t recognize her. The face was the same yet different. This woman had wrinkles and frown lines. Casey didn’t have those. Casey had smooth soft skin, free of lines and wrinkles. This woman's hair was sprinkled with grey at the edges. Casey’s hair was a golden brown and never had grey around the edges that she had to pluck out and color. This old woman staring back at Casey was her but different.
Casey looked at the fullness of her stomach and grabbed the love handles and the surrounding thickness and looked hard at her c-section scar. She laughed remembering the day she had her son and her doctor said that the scar would be on the bikini line but no worries she would still be able to wear a bikini on the beach. He didn’t know but at the very moment Casey felt like a beached whale on the operating table. She never wore a bikini in her life except once at a 6th grade swimming party. She knew that she would never wear a bikini no matter where the scar was going to be. She laughed again loudly in the mirror.
Her arms flapped as she waved hello and good-bye. She didn’t care much about that. Sooner or later everyone in her family got the “Jiggle arms” except for her cousin, Kerry, who lifted weights and looked like she could compete in the next weight lifting contest for women. Kerry was strong on the outside and the inside. She admired her for that.
“I need to call Kerry to whip my arms into shape.” She told her mirror.
Casey picked up her cell phone and dialed Kerry’s number and left a message.
“Ker, this is Casey. I need you to call me back cause my arms need you.” Casey laughed as she ended the call. She knew that Kerry would laugh too once she heard the message.
Casey grabbed her robe and tied it on her body. She turned around to see her back in the mirror and noticed that the robe rose a little higher on her backside than it did previously. Casey thought that she also needed Kerry to help with her backside too.
Casey moved slowly across the room to her bed and held up a hand mirror and the reflection close up of her face made her grimace. There was something to be said for youth but also something to be said for age. Casey patted her frown lines and her joy lines. She looked closely at her big brown eyes and the puffiness beneath them. She had always had that puffiness since she was a child and had the pictures to prove it. Her 4th grade picture was the one picture where it was most prominent. Casey still loved that picture of herself though, puffy eyes and all.
She looked at all of her array of face creams which proclaimed to remove wrinkles, temporary face lifts, lifts for this area and that area, serums that supposedly worked day and night and were going to make her look younger. Casey added up all the money she spent over the years on all these promises of looking younger products and looked at her face again. The products which she had been using for years hadn’t done a thing. Her lines were still there. Her wrinkles were still there and more would form over the years. Was that a bad thing? Casey stood up again and looked into the full length mirror. She didn’t like all the ways her body had changed over the years. She knew that she could change it if she wanted it. Then she heard a voice.
The voice seemed to come from behind her. She didn’t see anyone but she recognized the voice of her mom. Her mom’s voice came from heaven and it said that she was beautiful no matter what size or shape she was. Her body's wrinkles, lines, scars, rolls, fat, muscles, were all there for a reason. The reason was that she had lived. She had lived her life. She had lived a good life and her life was not over yet. The voice said enjoy her life and enjoy her body and if she didn’t like something about her life or her body change it. She was fierce and fearless and had the scars to prove it. And who said that was a bad thing? Love yourself and keep being the beautiful woman that you were born to be. Casey was fine with that and she got dressed in front of the mirror.