Scrutiny in front of a mirror


I was sitting in a beauty salon, in front of a full length mirror under bright lights, getting my hair trimmed and conditioned. The whole procedure takes about 45 minutes. I found atleast 45 faults with myself in that duration. My eyebrows were thinning , the left one more angular than the right one, those dark circles under my eyes were becoming quite prominent. The previously straightened hair had now begun to curl at the roots and looked unkempt. But wait, did they grow just 2 inches in 8 months? That’s sad. Is that a sign of a double chin right there above the non-muscular neck? I should do more facial yoga and get my thyroid levels checked. Oh gosh that extra belly needs to go now. It’s 14 months since Arjun was born. In general I look dull, perhaps some makeup will help. More exercise. I should stop eating sweets altogether. But I am a baker, I need to taste what I make . And the mangoes are back in the market. Oh no, I can already see putting on a kilo or two.

And just when I am deeply engrossed in self depreciation, the hair stylist tells me “madam aap ke baal bahut dry hai, they will soon start falling.” She goes on to convince me how I should use Loreal shampoo and conditioner combo. Sure I say. She then points out that my finger cuticles need softening and I shouldn’t bite on them too much. Sure I say. Madam, we have also come up with an Ayurvedic slimming pill, you will see results in a week. Sure, I wanted to say. But instead I said “please don’t try to sell me any more services to products, or I will walk away.’ The rest of the time goes in silence and I resume looking at my nose and thinking I need a nose job. How I wish I had a dimple atleast in one cheek. And a smaller forehead.

Suddenly my phone rings and my husband on the other end says, “hi beautiful”. He asks about a couple things related to work, but I don’t remember them. I was stuck at the beautiful. Wondering – since when did I start looking at myself condescendingly? What’s up with all those faults I keep finding with how I look? And I am not that kind of a person. I rarely spend more than a minute in front of the mirror each morning. The husband often calls me pretty and notices when I dress up differently and compliments. Real, look in my eyes and compliment kind of a compliment.

The hair treatment is over. I pay and leave. Looking any better than before? Probably not. Feeling much worse? Yes for sure.

When I come home, Arjun- my little baby, looks at me and squeals with delight. He will do that even if I am dressed in rags. Even if I haven’t showered in days. He will rub his nose on my cheek no matter the dirt and grime of polluted Mumbai. I realise  that this is what actually matters. It is not a new revelation, but one that needs constant affirmation.

I will still go to the salon a couple months later (my hair is very dry, you see), hopefully less stressed about sitting in front of a full length mirror now that I have already documented all my appearance-related shortcomings.


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