FaceOnFire: A Girl's Guide to Perimenopause

There was a time (to be specific, junior high school) when I felt about as beautiful as a Grimm’s fairy tale troll. As the class straight-A student, my 4.0 brain made me a complete zero when it came to male attention. Add to this a humiliating incident at the JC Penney beauty salon where a well-intentioned but hopelessly incompetent stylist gave me a near buzz-cut, when all I wanted was a Dorothy Hamill. Finish it off with a pair of oversized, prescription eyeglasses, circa 1979, and the result is  a nearsighted, androgynous beanpole.

Although by eighth grade my hair had grown out, I never recovered from the trauma of looking like an effeminate boy for a year and a half.

Junior high was the farthest thing from my mind on Monday when I got a Facebook message from a girl in my eighth-grade graduating class. The very next day, I found myself planning a 30-year reunion, and what a fitting distraction from the joys of counting down to my looming hysteroscopy.

Today I started rummaging through storage boxes searching for grade school photos to post on our Facebook alumni page. I unearthed the group graduation portrait, and three rows back on the left, I see myself: a radiant 14 year-old girl with long brown hair.

So we’re not going to get maudlin here. We may in fact get kind of catty. But before we go there, girlfriends, there’s a lesson to be learned.

And it goes like this: Close your eyes and think of the last time someone whipped out a camera, and you said, “No, my hair’s a mess.” “No! I look like a beached whale.” Or, “No, I hate having my picture taken!” Got that moment fresh in your mind? OK. Now hop into your mental time machine and do the same exercise, but now you’re looking for a similar instance from 10, 20, 30 years ago. Someone pointed a Polaroid, Rolliflex or instamatic camera your way, and  you reacted with a litany of reasons why you should not be photographed at that moment. Only this time, the person actually took your photo.

Still with me?  Now think back to what that photo from 10, 20 or 30 years ago looks like today. Not half bad, huh? You might even say you looked pretty darned cute. And what you thought was a bad hair day (or whatever the equivalent expression was back then) actually looks like you having a great time living life.

So the lesson, my lovelies, is that 30 or 40 years from now, if we’re lucky enough to become cute little apple doll-faced octogenarians, we will look at photos of ourselves from today (yes, today!) and think, “I looked pretty darned hot in my day.”

Which leads me to your mission, if you choose to accept it: The next time you find yourself nose-to-lens with a camera, smile broadly and revel in your beauty. Especially if you happen to be at your 30-year junior high school reunion.


et cetera