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Mirror, Mirror

March 1, 2009

My family has a magical mirror. It is a huge ornate gold mirror that once hung in the White House, and when you stand in front of it, it magically transforms you to be inches taller and pounds lighter. For generations women have come from far and wide to our home to get ready for a big night out, and a number of women have modeled their wedding gowns before it. It is one of the few items that heirs in my family will claw each others’ eyes out to inherit. (My sisters should consider themselves forewarned – the mirror is mine bitches!)

The world, it seems, is full of magical mirrors. It’s just that not all of them use their powers for good. I always find it so interesting how much my reflection can change in the course of a day. In my full length mirror at home, I am not half bad. Liz Hurley I am not, but I don’t quite hear hordes of snickering children making piggy noises either. However, by the time I get to the gym, my body has changed dramatically. Standing in the aerobics classroom, I am reflected, in triplicate, with flabby arms, jowls, wide hips, and an ass you could park a TV tray on. My workout pants should say Swanson on the rear. That I can transform so quickly, the gym is only 5 minutes from my home, is staggering. I am not sure if this is a super-power I alone posses, but if it is, I’m not clear how I’m supposed to save humanity with it.

The other day, in a “Power Pump” class (whatever that is), I am in the back row (always) and am armed with hand weights and my super-power working full force in the mirror, when I look in front of me and I see a woman who looks like she could be Little Ms 2%‘s mother, or is the ghost of Little Ms 2% future. She is mid-fifties, pushing 98lbs, retaining none of the water she is drinking from her sports bottle – all sinew and bone. I look at her and I look at her reflection and I wonder does she see what I see? Do she and those of her ilk not realize that once you hit 40 starving yourself thin and replacing all your body fat with muscle and Botox doesn’t make you look young and healthy, it actually makes you look more skeletal and closer to death? And for those of us who are a box of donuts away from a coronary, it’s not really very encouraging to workout with the Grim Reaperettes.

I don’t know if it is the same in gyms around the world, or if it is an Angeleno experience, but the gyms are increasingly full of very sad and scary women. I have been, off and on, a member of the same gym chain for about 20 years. It’s a fairly expensive club, so the membership tends to be skewed towards people who can afford Pilates classes, private training sessions and plastic surgery. When I first joined, back in the day of high-impact aerobics, g-string leotards, and Reebok high-tops, the biggest annoyance was the bleach blond trophy wives with hardening breast implants prancing around fully made up and flirting with the instructors. However, as I have grown older, they too, much to their chagrin, have aged, replaced their silicone implants with saline, given up white food, and swapped their leotards for sports bras bearing rhinestones and Don Ed Hardy’s signature and leggings that say “Juicy” on the ass. Now, they aren’t annoying so much as they are creepy. Many of them have lost their natural female curves in favor of a gaunt boy like physique, and while I appreciate the hours of dedication that have gone into obtaining those rock hard abs, I don’t want to see them exposed under Shar-Pei-like wrinkled skin squashed between breasts that are abnormally high and a waistband so low it is abundantly clear that they wax their pubic hair in fancy shapes. However, it seems to be bad form to ask them to please put a shirt on, and they’ve done enough Tae-Bo to make kicking my ass in the parking lot a reality.

In the locker room, there is very little room to hide the scars of our battles with our weight and our age. It is very clear who is natural and who is not. Who has had liposuction, a tuck ‘n’ roll job, or a full body lift. From my vantage point (locker in the back corner where I can avoid scrutiny) I watch them put on their game faces to head into the real world. Many of them seem to be wearing masks. Foreheads Botoxed in place, lipsticked Juvederm Jack Nicholsonesque Joker grins, and collagen plumped up lips that only look good on Angelina Jolie (by the way, would someone please tell this to Melanie Griffith and Nadya Suleman). I wonder if their reflections show them this reality or if their super-power is the ability to look through the glass darkly.

I don’t begrudge these women their self-loathing and plastic surgery. That would be a pot and kettle situation of epic proportions. I, myself, will someday need to find a talented surgeon to lift my eyes lest I should live out my days with my lids taped open like Aristotle Onassis. I have even wished that my breasts, which I’ve had since I was about 9 and are starting to show signs of Newtonian physics, could be lifted up a few inches. However, I don’t confuse wanting to stave off the inevitable signs of aging with pretending that it is not happening or thinking that I can magically reverse it. That is not a super-power I possess and neither does anyone else.

One Comment leave one →
  1. vegasmassage permalink
    February 28, 2017 6:48 pm

    I used to have the same problem at my gym. I solved it by downgrading to a cheap place where everyone’s poor. Plus I only go in the early morning. No one even has their makeup on yet.

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