I suddenly have much more interest in my appearance. Before, make up never held my attention for long. I was ambivalent in my resignation that my hair would never be coiffed in anything resembling the latest fashions. I silently judged women who obsessed over their looks; surely they were superficial or insecure. Surely I was above all that.
And then I had my neck sliced open twice in ten days. Surgery left its mark.
I'm superficial enough to be bothered by the red raised scar at the base of my throat, insecure enough to want to compensate for its rawness in other ways. Concealer masking. Eye liner drawing attention up, away. Bronzer highlighting. Shimmers reflecting, lip gloss wet and inviting. I braid, twist, coil and curl my hair, accessorizing with flowers and ribbons and scarves.
Maybe I can recreate my own self portrait. Perhaps I can twist and coil and curl the struggles with my health into something worthwhile. "Cancer survivor" sounds heroic and so much braver than I feel, but I can apply it to my list of attributes like a coat of mascara. "Survivor" is a liner I can draw all over myself, really -- depression survivor, sexual abuse survivor, drug abuse survivor. Natural, unassisted childbirth survivor. Fingernail biter survivor. Multiple body piercings survivor. Counting experiences I have come through or encountered that haven't killed me yet is almost exhilarating. Difficult situations somehow sparkle under the word "survivor."
My fragments of broken mirror can be pieced together in a Picasso-like mosaic, a girl before a looking-glass. A girl looking at all the different pieces: lines, marks, colors. I'm reading my reflection to understand who I am now.
Like make up, Picasso never held my attention before. Yet now, like bottles of powder and color and shimmer, he is relevant to my life changes. My changes in self perception.