Guess What, I Own A Mirror
For some of us, it is hard enough to put ourselves together every day and to take a deep breath and walk out the door with our heads held high, without having to listen to others emphasize our physical flaws.
Even the people who are envied and considered the most beautiful among us are not exempt from being stricken with occasional skin problems or worse. While nobody is perfect, the risk of hearing questions disguised as concern about a skin blemish or other physical defect is often enough for some folks to just stay home.
When one expresses hesitation about going to a party or anywhere in public sporting a cold sore and their friends say “Don’t worry, no one will say anything,” they are often mistaken. Yes, actually, there are people who will in fact say something and I can testify to that from personal experience.
I recall one incident that occurred a while back at the office where I was working at the time. It was winter time and the weather was particularly harsh on my sensitive skin. There was one woman in the office that made it her daily mission to ask me why my face was “so dry”. I let it go the first few times, but one day when she asked me yet again, I had had enough. I responded with “Guess what? I look just as good if not better than you, even on my worst day!” and watched with satisfaction as she stared back at me with her mouth hanging open.
Sometimes a person need not even step outside in order to be subjected to a comment about his or her appearance. On one occasion when I was at home recuperating from surgery, a male friend came to visit me and asked “Do you always have those bags under your eyes?” Needless to say, if I did not feel bad enough already, I certainly did after that.
I find it mind-boggling when someone does not grasp the idea that others are usually aware if they have a space between their teeth, unwanted facial hair, or if they are overweight or are looking exceptionally tired. Most people don’t need to be reminded of those things, nor do they need to hear unsolicited comments or recommendations about them.
One might think that it should be obvious if a person is wearing dark glasses, a hat and a scarf around their face, that they may already feel embarrassed about something without being asked about it.
When I developed a strange rash on my arm during an unusually hot summer and could not comfortably wear long sleeves, I tried to cover the mark up as well as I could with the help of make-up. I could have sworn I had noticed eyes moving to the rash in the middle of a conversation and I felt extremely self-conscious; that was awkward enough but not quite as bad as a well-meaning neighbour who not only made a horrified face when he saw it, but also went on to ask me in detail what the problem was.
The man was sincerely concerned but when I saw him the next day I cut my conversation with him short just the same, for fear that he was about to bring it up again.
Once when I was at a get-together at a friend’s house, I overheard another woman there actually have the audacity to ask another lady in attendance at the party if she was wearing a wig, and if so, why. I secretly applauded the poor woman when she let her have it for being so nosey and inappropriate.
The fact is people, including me, actually do notice things about other people’s physical features and imperfections. The difference lies with the people who are smart enough to keep their observations about such matters to themselves.
I myself, as I suspect most people do, actually look in the mirror every day and I do notice how I look on any given day. I am also well aware if I have bags under my eyes or a blemish on my skin.
Women are not the only ones concerned with how they present themselves. Men also feel self-conscious and take pride in their appearance, often just as much if not more so than some women do and, although they may try to hide it, they often feel equally badly when they hear an unwelcome remark about something they already feel sensitive about, such as, for example, if they are experiencing thinning hair.
One gentleman I know who was upset because of some deep wrinkles he had developed was not too happy when asked by someone “What happened to your face?”
Interestingly enough, one discovery I have made is that it is the people who would point out another’s flaws who are most self-conscious about their own. A couple of weeks after I had last seen the neighbour who commented in such detail about my skin disorder, I ran into him again and was secretly grateful that my rash had cleared up.
One of the first things the man did when he saw me was to ask if the pimple on his nose was noticeable. I could not bring myself to tell him how glaringly obvious the blemish was, and instead assured him that if he had not pointed it out to me, I might not have noticed it at all.
Whether it is as a result of an illness, age, stress, an allergic reaction or some other reason, we all feel self-conscious enough about our shortcomings without having them rubbed in our not-so-perfect faces by others. We’ve all got mirrors to do that for us.♦
Copyright © 2013 by Andrea Freedman
Posted on April 9, 2013, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged When we notice physical flaws on others the most tactful thing to say is nothing at all.. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.