Monday, February 9, 2009

Blue Monday

It's a doozy, a four champagne'glass night, a long stare at a picture of myself in sodden self absorption and pity to wonder what the hell is happening to my face? My lip is apparently lopsided? When did this happen? My chin is softening. If I begin to get jowls for the love of God, I will use every instrument of torture Sir Doctor has at his/her dispense, and lay before their steely paws my full frontal plea: make this a face I recognize.

A strange thing is happening: I don't recognize myself lately. I stopped dying my hair after being blonde, BLONDE Blonde since 20yrs., after running like watercolor from Tow Headed as a child, to a blonde adolescent, to dirty blonde, to my pregnancy mud. The dying began along with a few years of hellish self absporption where I can only claimed to have piled the pain and suffering of my youth into a fernetic grip onto my looks: here was something I could depend on to my make me feel good. I went through a determination to buy breast implants, which thank god I was too poor for because Mr. Curry adores my breasts, and I love them quite fine, and would be miserable now if I had implants. I had fake nails for years- going for the whole Baywatch Slut look, achieved through careful observation of Playboy magazine and my imagination. I had a pre-packaged look that worked quite fine for garnerning attention from men: the Nails, the Hair, the Boobs, the Butt, the Tight Clothing, the Makeup, the Tan. No, Daddy wasn't there. If it wasn't obvious enough already.

I had spent my childhood not only miserable, but also firmly convinced I was totally and completely ugly. I had a round face, fat cheeks with dark splatterings of freckles, a small mouth and nose and eyes (which I found sadly lacking, compared to my sister and cousin's larger features) hair as limp as wet cotton candy, and absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever. Unfortunately my mother had none either, and so I was the product of many a bad idea, for hair and for fashion. The hair cut my mother gave me as a pre-teen still haunts me.

My best friend Julie was so beautiful, so widely acknowledged as beautiful, and to make matters worse, we were of a same egg: freckles, blue eyes, blonde hair, thin, same body type- only she was like the animae uber-version, while I was the farm girl version: hard working, durable, maybe cute, to some adults and dogs. This is honestly how I saw myself, and is very sad, while also being funny, in a kind of manic i'm-on-the-brink-of-losing-it-way. Julie's eyes were bigger, her face slimmer, her hair obedient, her freckles quieter, and she had fashion sense, (as did her mother) money, and a very keen eye for what was acceptable or desirable. You'd think I would have learned a thing or two from Julie, but somehow her magical knowledge of how to be beautiful slipped through my fingers, and I could only watch in admiration as she made her hair perfect, applied makeup, and sauntered into a room with the complete knowledge that every man and boy thought she was a knockout.

Boys teased me, called me ugly, I could barely shop for clothes without breaking into a hot, unnatractive sweat of anxiety, convinced I was fat, ugly, and doomed to never know the power of a beautiful girl- like my cousin, my sister, my best friend, my mother! for Christsakes! My Grandmother was beautiful! What had happened to me? Unfair. I was being abused, emotionally and physically, and my focus remained like a bulldog on my looks, and the despair I felt over their failure.

Then fifteen. My breasts bloomed, my legs lengthened, my waist curved into a tiny, hour glass nook, my freckles quieted, my hair grew out, my face lost it's baby fat, and there was a miracle: boys. wanted. me. The same boys who had ignored me completely before now could not take their eyes of me in my tight Levi jeans, my tee shirts, my blue eyeliner. I was hot. I was in heaven. I used all my considerable imagination and industry and formulated both a personality (highly sexualized but innocent, intelligent but niave, loving and overly trusting, forgiving, sweet and rock n roll) and a look (tight Levi's,white tight tee, boots, makeup, body oil, smile and eyes) that became garanteed to catch the eye of any guy and keep his interest. I flirted, I attracted, I kissed, and finally and inevitably, I had sex at fifteen. At least he was kind, and a friend. That's the best that can be said about that.

We are all adults here. Of course we know now- grown, many of us with children of our own, sexual partners in our past, our relationship failures and success clear- we know now that no matter our age, we carry our past inside. What we do with that past, bury it, roll in it, fear it, learn from it, it up to us, but it remains. Those years of ugly, ugly, ugly are firmly rooted in my mind, my cellular makeup, the electronic code my brain lights when my eye falls on my thigh, or catches my reflection in the mirror.

So the hair has gone from blonde to whatever it is now- a light brown with blonde- and I've had children, and a hard life, and a serious tendency toward binging on sugars and carbs. ( sorry body, so sorry. ) And now suddenly this last year, when I look in the mirror, or see pictures of myself, I am transported back to that young girl who did not like what she saw in the mirror.

I have never felt particularly afraid of aging, but now I realize it was aging as I saw it: wrinkles, fine. Undereye sag? OK. But I never considered my chin going soggy on me. My jawline melting. Jowls? JOWLS, for the love of God!! Who can handle that? And the lines from my nose to my mouth are becoming very uncool. Very UNCOOL, you hear that, face!? I'm terribly ashamed to admit I've become one of those women who pull the skin up on their face in the mirror.

All my suffering as a child, the depth of intellectual thought I have enganged in my twenties and thirties, the countless novels and books I have read, the college, the motherhood, marriage, deaths, disease, surgeries! And still, this face is taking center stage. My ego is seriously concerned. Do I want to look 20? No. Do I want to avoid all signs of aging? No. Can I handle not recognizing my face in the mirror. Well, yes, I can handle it, but not so well so far.

I think about Stephanie Nielson. Do you know the amazing Stephanie? Nie Nie, of the NieNie Dialogues? Well six months ago she, along with her husband Christian, was in a plane crash, where she was burnt over 80% of her body. They both survived, and she is now recovering from home- a new home, where they had to move to be closer to family. Their four children are being cared for by Nie's sisters. Stephanie's face was badly burnt. What she will look like? I have no idea. I've met a burn victim before, here in San Diego, who was burnt in one of our infamous and terrible fires. Her face was very distorted and shiny with scar, and she was very young. Nie is very young, younger than I am, and she is? was? the type of girl who loved pretty. And you know, there was nothing shallow about Nie, Mormon, mother of four, devoted mommy, but she loved interior design, makeup, clothing, hair- she was always in full face makeup, hair done, earrings on, looking so beautiful. How will she reconcile the face she sees in the mirror with the face she remembers?

Mr. Curry is the most loving husband you could imagine. He is always telling me I'm beautiful, and I know he means it, but this isn't about him, or my marriage. It's about fearing the loss of something that has been a crutch, a solace, and truthfully, a thing of joy, after a childhood where any of those things were rare or impossible. But how could I ever find the heart to really complain when my love looks at me like this?

I rarely post 'questions' toward you all, but this time, I'd really like to hear what your own experiences with your face are, as you age.

Love, Maggie
Anonymous said...

you are SO BEAUTIFUL!!!!
believe me, maggie, it´s the stress.but your face is so inspiring. and BELLE BELLA GUAPISIMA. thanks for this post about you.
love you

Anonymous said...

my face is uneven, white, old, greying hair, ughhhhh

much love
more love to youuuuuu

Maggie May said...

yolanda you are so awesome, the way you write and talk is so unique it's like i can hear your voice!

Maggie May said...

sometimes i think i'm still just a kid, avoiding the truly terrifying with this kind of thing.

sometimes i think i'm just human.

sometimes i think i'm a super robot, built by aliens and left here to drive myself crazy in an experiment of psychology and zworksbein.

Tiff said...

I want to be one of those women that age gracefully, jowls or no jowls, double chin or no double chin (of which I am getting both). I want to love what I see in the mirror and remember that each scar and age spot is part of a difficult past that I carry with me, things that make up part of who I am now.
But that's not how I feel when I look in the mirror or see a picture of myself. I am not aging gracefully... I look tired and beat down and old beyond my years, and I hate it...

Ms. Moon said...

Here's one thing I wrote about aging.

rachael said...

You are beautiful, but I totally get you, we are our own worst critics.

I had the same friends you did, they all were more 'everything' than I was. Even in my young adulthood, I felt the same way, just a little under everyone else in the beauty department.

Its only been in the last few years that I have come into my own, and started to feel comfortable (like you did at 15), I am a really late bloomer.

The catch is that the moment I started to feel comfortable in my skin, it started to sag.

I am just hitting 40 this year.

I am choosing to enjoy my aging and self confidence, but you are right, hard to ignore when you see evidence of it in the mirror.

I have tried some laser procedures for the age spots which help, some of the other procedures that are non invasive can really help too, so along with aging gracefully, I tried a bit of help to preserve things.

At the end of the day though, I have my health, and really that is all that matters.

I am sorry to hear about your friend. To hear her story makes me feel very small for worrying about even one wrinkle.

Here is a funny video I made of the Laser technique I had done last year...... :)

Anonymous said...

Australians would say... no worries mate. Some are just born with the right bone structure etc. and will always stay lovely. As you will I am sure. Mr. Curry is a very good advisor on this point.

Remember that as you get older, the chemical soup inside of you also changes and certain values etc. that exist now are simply not there. one simply does not look at oneself the same way. I cannot explain this but I am a man and we are all different. Ask Mr. Curry about this. No better not. We husbands get tongue tied on certain subjects even remotely dealing with Mien Dear Spouse and how she looks after champagne which I assure is always wonderful... it has always been and will always be wonderful!.. (I still get punched out when I answer the question. Any answer results in a beating...) Be nice. Dont ask.

Barbara Campbell Thomas said...

I've been thinking a lot about Nie too--wondering many of the same things you are asking.

I saw a photograph of my grandmother the other day--she must have been about my age at the time of the photo. And she was stunningly beautiful to me--strong hands, strong body, NOT little and petite, but solid, and holding her child. She was stunning--in this deep, deep way. Sometimes I wish I could really see myself--because maybe THAT is how I look too and I just don't see it--mired as I am in all my stuff. Because that is how you look to me really--in the pictures I've seen coupled with the words I've read--a woman who has/is MUCH and is FULL. Oh that somehow we just all might really see ourselves...

P said...

Dude, what are you talking about? You're a stone-cold fox. Thank goodness we are older now and don't have to flit around like fifteen-year-olds. It's wayyyyy too demanding.

Still recovering from being completely IGNORED by boys until I was nineteen. I was a late bloomer. Very late.

erin@designcrisis said...

Thanks so much for adding us to your blogroll; such a treat to find you!

I enjoyed reading about your self doubts, but as everyone else has already done, let me assure you that you're gorgeous. Lucky girl!

Maggie May said...


i think i'm changing the name of my blog to Stone Cold Fox


Annie King said...

When I was about twelve, a boy at school used to call me ugly, every time he saw me in the cafeteria. Mind you, he really was ugly, with a great big nose that took over the middle of his face, but that didn't make his taunts any less disturbing. I believed him. For years I believed him. I had lots of boy friends when I was in high school, but I never had a boyfriend. I looked like I was twelve throughout my teenage years, so I attributed it to that more than being ugly, even then. I had four friends who were boys who regularly boosted my self esteem, one with his compliments, two with their affectionate teasing, and another with his devotion; but it wasn't the same as having a boyfriend. Meeting my husband at the age of twenty-one, and being loved by him, is what finally made me feel beautiful. I was always a tiny person, graceful, slim, with a pixieish round face and light blonde hair, and when I was a teenager and young adult, deeply tanned. Now that I'm aging, and the pounds are put on, it's difficult. I still try to do stretches now and then, but I feel the ache, and my roundish pixie face with the sun bronzed cheeks has gone to fleshy, with a slight droop around the lips, slight crease between the brows, the beginnings of jowls and a weakening chin. Yikes! But I value more who I am, than what I look like. As long as I stay healthy, I'll be okay. I'm accepting my age. I like to think it's the "me" that looks out of my eyes that people see.

And Maggie, you're beautiful! Enjoy the age you are. You are in great shape!

Anonymous said...

Me, I can't wait to get old. Maya Angelou did an interview where she talked about age, I can still hear her yelling 'What do you say Jay!' And she talks about being comfortable and knowing who you are... I can't wait for that! Bring on a full head of Grey and SaddleBags to boot... I'm all about growing old.

Bee said...

There are many things I dislike about my face, but I save my true self-loathing for my hair and thighs. Kidding! (But kind of not . . . I'm sure you know what I mean.)

I always admire people who let themselves age naturally -- and then you really do "get" how character/wit/kindness/smiling makes us beautiful. When I see women who have had too much plastic surgery, it truly makes me cringe. Having said that, it is easier to let someone else age, than to let ourselves age . . . and change.

I think it's important to keep working on our other stuff.

(And btw, I do not see a softening jawline on you!)

Maggie May said...

well hell why are you guys all so coool with it all and i'm so...not!?

i need Snoopy's Free Advice stand.

Lola said...

First off, you are beautiful in every way. As for me, I don't know how I can just deal with it the way I do. Red wine is a big help. Keeps the wrinkles at bay!

You know I just turned 43, and I see things in the mirror I really don't like, but then I just laugh. What else am I going to do?

I don't like pain, and paying for pain is not going to happen in my life, so I just try to keep up as best I can.

Like my mother, I'm pretty sure I can survive on my personality and my iron will! Guys just love us ;)

The old gal is 72 and has a 60 year old widower that follows her from church to church asking her out to dinner. Too funny!!!

Krystal said...

thats a gorgeous shot! and thank you so very much xo

Anonymous said...

i have painted your face, blue and fuchsia colors. hair blue...
the funny thing is that it ressembles a little... a much to me.
well, let´s call it a self-portrait. not you.
but me.
or you in me.
or me in you.

you looked just tired but fantastic. i love your pics.
and the story you wrote about yourself is AWESOME.
submit it to a magazine, rewrite it to a novel, oh maggie...
love as usual
yolanda lola

Holly said...

um, jowls? NO WAY!!!

my complaint, but not really, cuz i can always dye my hair, but im only 25 and have GRIPS of gray hair. my mom grayed early too :(

nkp said...

I'm on the cusp of my 36th birthday, and hell, that number alone shocks me. When did I grow closer to 40 than not? But all of the sudden I've noticed wrinkles and lines and that damned be it sagging that never seemed to be there. Seriously, I don't think it was there just last week! Humpf, my eye sight is probably going as well. BUT, I'd rather age than face the alternative and frankly, I think I will treat it just as I do the marks on my body from
pregnancy and such, proud signs of what I've accomplished and how far I've come.

The Nielsen story has become an incredible source of inspiration for me as well. I think she will rise above it all and continue to do amazing things! I'm so glad I found your blog, you have an uncommon gift as a storyteller and a fierce sense of self. Thanks for sharing!

anymommy said...

Whenever I look at a picture from the past, even a year or two ago, I always think, wow, why didn't I realize that I was pretty, in my way. But in the now, I always have trouble seeing it.

I see the new lines, the problems of the moment, the pregnancy acne...

But when someone looks like you as he does in that picture, that's the good stuff, right?

molly said...

ohhhh, man....this post is one that's been brewing inside of me for the last year. but i'm working on it, i'm working on it...everyday (not the post, mm, the issue of age!). i hated my looks as a kid, determined i was fat and ugly. i had freckles and stringy hair and was barked at by two boys in class. i didn't have a boyfriend until the one that came along in high school and that, well,i ended it quickly cuz he couldn't kiss! i didn't know i wouldn't actually do much kissing agin until college and even then, it was sparse!
anyhoo, i've gone thru stages where i've recognized my beauty and then other days when i can't believe how much i've fucking aged. my sister just told me this past xmas that we're not "pretty" girls, we're "handsome".
speak for yourself, i thought!
i am pretty. sometimes. and sometimes downright awful looking: baggy eyes, splotchy skin, and too many crows feet. but, hell, it's the skin i was given and i'm damn lucky!
when i read about nie nie in the news, i thought 'what an inspiration' and 'what do i have to complain about?!' both.

everything we have could end in an instant.
that other stuff, it's all in our heads.

thanks for the great post.

Maggie May said...

it's so awesome to get these amazing replies and glimpses into the way another person thinks about something that is really on my mind.
you guys have given me good cud to chew.

Anonymous said...

You look so much like the lovely Chan Marshall/Cat Power. She's a beaut.

previous next