Mirror, Mirror on the Dressing Room Wall

by Nicole Borke
Nicole Borke

I’m going for skinny cut this time – venturing away from boot cut! Yes, I’m doing it!

I’ve hated all skinny jeans I’ve ever tried on. But today will be different—the extra hot sauce I ordered on my burrito has left me feeling brazen.

I pulled a pair off the rack. After the assistant handed me a plastic circle with a ‘1’ on it, I ventured into the dressing room with a brave face.

Quietly I chanted, “I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough!” But it didn’t have the effect that the woman in the magazine said it would.

I hung my purse and skinny jeans on a hook. My old jeans were soon on the floor and with a hop, pull, hop, pull, the new jeans were on. I looked at myself and marveled at how amazing the jeans looked on my hot body. A perfect fit!

I smiled at my reflection.

Reflection, is that you?

Reflection appeared shocked, her eyes widening while reviewing my body top to bottom. She squinted, examining me so closely I began to get uncomfortable. How rude! For the most part, Reflection had been kind to me throughout my life, but lately she was getting quite judgemental.

She made me feel self conscious, so I spoke up. “Why are you looking at me like that?… Of course, I’ve aged since you saw me last. We’re all aging, you fool, just look at yourself!”

I began to inspect Reflection  indignantly; we drew our faces very close to each other’s bodies, both of us scowling.

“Take your clothes off, let’s just do a little comparison,” I said to her. Oddly enough, she said the same thing back to me.

The competition was on. The next thing I knew, we were standing in front of the mirror with our clothes, including bra and underwear, at our feet (and socks too—being naked with only socks on is just plain wrong—did all the men out there hear that?)

I looked down at the model on the tag on the jeans that lay on the floor. Self-consciously, I covered myself and snapped at her, “I know I don’t look like you in those jeans, okay?”

After stripping off my second sock, I stood up and looked squarely — or rectangularly, to be exact — at Reflection and gasped.

A woman’s voice from a dressing room across the hall floated over the partitions, consoling me, “I know! I’m always shocked when I see myself in these mirrors. Is everything okay in there?”

I told her that I had spilled some coffee on myself. No, I was not gasping at my reflection in the mirror, thank you very much, nosy lady! In fact, I could jump up and down naked while looking at my reflection, up and down, up and down, and not gasp at myself. Yes, I could. But I won’t.

I refocused on Reflection. She put her hands on the outside of each thigh that had grown larger since the birth of her children, pushing them inward to give the illusion that they were smaller, much like I sometimes pull the skin on my face upward to give the illusion of tightness.

“Who are you kidding?” I said to her. “You can’t fool me with that pulling-back-the-fat-and-skin trick!”

Sadness shadowed over her face and shame jolted through me. “I’m sorry. We’re in this together.”

“We’re in this together!” I shouted at the woman across the hall while craning my head upward and standing on my tiptoes. “Isn’t it awesome that we get to grow older and have our metabolism slow down?”

My eyes then drew up to Reflection’s breasts—mine were on the small side too. Like plums on branches, they defied gravity a bit more effectively than, say, an apple—they would eventually drop, but later than the larger fruit—and they were just as sweet.

Holding my breath, I turned my body to show Reflection my butt and I then cranked my head back to look at hers. The lighting shone down from the ceiling, emphasizing her dimples like an awning casting shade on a sidewalk. Had they multiplied since I saw her last? Can dimples have babies? “Holy shit,” I cried. Another gasp escaped me.

“You got fully naked in there, didn’t you?” came the voice from across the hall. “Very brave.”

I consoled myself by recalling my daughter telling me that big butts are “in” and that women are even padding their asses.

“No padding needed for your ass!” I said to Reflection.

You gotta love it when a part of your body is “in.”

Turning around once more, I focused on my once-toned, flat-as-a-board tummy—my pride and joy for years. My belly button ring sat like a dusty, long-forgotten trophy on a shelf.

I noticed Reflection was now looking back at me, smiling. She looked pretty with that smile. I had forgotten the positive energy she carried that filled me with a zest for life.

Wait, was that me?

The door of my dressing room opened and I turned just in time to see Shame, Judgement and Fear scampering away down the hall.

“Good riddance!” I shouted at them, shaking my fist. “For now, anyway!”

I turned back to my reflection. “You’re awesome,” I said to myself. “You really are. Imperfections and all.”

And then a screech came from the woman across the hall.

 “No judgement inward leaves for no judgement outward,” I said, trying to sound wise.

“I like that!” she responded.

I smiled to myself while faltering on my tightrope just a little before making my way out into the world again, skinny jeans in hand.

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