Each morning, my hand mirror gives me two versions of myself. On one side, I get an enlarged view. On the other, I see myself as others do. At my age, neither offers a flattering option. Frankly, there are days when I welcome the Covid-19 edict to wear a protective mask. Not only is compliance good public policy, but it’s also good for the ego. No one should apologize for being old, of course. Even so, I’d rather my crow’s feet and sagging jawline didn’t shout so much.
As usual, men have an advantage. They can mask defects with facial hair, a beard with sideburns, perhaps. A woman’s line of defense is cosmetic. A lifted brow line? Or a sweep of color along the cheekbones, emulating the Nike swoop? Oscar Wilde, the author of the classic novel, Dorian Gray got it right when he noted, “A man’s face is his autobiography. A woman’s face is her work of fiction.”
M preferred option to defeat the sands of time is the same as Count Dracula’s. I avoid mirrors. Nonetheless, the lens of a camera is everywhere in the modern world, perched above a bank entrance or on a street lamp along a busy thoroughfare. They promote public safety, I’m told. I’m not convinced. The camera that snapped my driver’s license photo exhibited pure malice. That I must live with it provides endless embarrassment. Each time I’m obliged to prove my identity, I offer an excuse. “I had my hysterectomy that day.”
Zoom offers the latest opportunity for people to humiliate themselves when they agree to become disembodied faces scattered across a screen. Marisa Meltzer, writing for Vanity Fair, (“About FACE”, July August 2020, pg. 34-35) recognizes the problem. In her words, the technology amplifies every imperfection, the close-ups betraying “our every emotion, our exhaustion, our inescapable aging.” (Ibid pg. 35.)
Disheartened by her observation, I’m forced to question how many hysterectomies a woman can lay claim to in one life. Happily, Meltzer offers useful advice. She tells her readers to brighten their Zoom faces with something called “a ring of light.” The device sounds Tolkien to me, but when I consulted one guru, he insisted no magic was involved, and that I could probably purchase the item at a large grocery store.
Meltzer’s second suggestion is to fiddle with the “Touch Up My Appearance” option on Zoom. I had no idea it existed.
Though the first Zoom taping for “Just Read It,”–my book discussion with local authors about national bestsellers—looms in the near future, I’ve yet to try either of the writer’s suggestions. Technology averse as I am, I’ll probably go for the Nike swoosh in a distracting crimson color, instead. Or, I might try rice flour. It worked for aging geishas.